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This Italian margarita recipe uses amaretto to give this classic cocktail a makeover! Fresh orange juice and almond liqueur bring unique twist to the flavors that’s irresistible.

Italian Margarita in glass with salt rim and Amaretto.
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Want a simple makeover for your margarita? Try this Italian margarita recipe! Just like Mexican Pizza, this drink is a fusion of the best of Italian and Mexican cuisines: this time in cocktail form!

Why we love this recipe: This Mediterranean version of the classic cocktail swaps out orange liqueur for amaretto, and the almond essence adds a distinctly Italian vibe. Alex and I are big fans of traveling in Italy (Rome, Naples, and the Amalfi Coast are faves): so of course we had to try the Italian margarita!

Ingredients in an Italian margarita

An Italian margarita is a variation on a classic margarita that uses amaretto in place of the orange liqueur (Cointreau), in combination with orange juice, lime juice, and tequila. The flavor has notes of almond and citrus on the finish, but the beginning of the sip tastes like your favorite margarita. Think of it as a sophisticated version of a margarita, kind of like the Cadillac Margarita. Here’s what’s in an Italian margarita:

  • Tequila
  • Orange or blood orange juice
  • Amaretto
  • Lime juice
Amaretto with Italian margarita.

Use blood orange juice for the brilliant color

You can use orange juice from a standard navel orange and this Italian margarita turns out with a warm orange color. But for a brilliantly colored cocktail, use blood orange juice!

Blood oranges have sweet juice and a bright pink color. We love this spin on it because it’s so eye-catching, just like our blood orange margarita. If you can find blood oranges, they’re absolutely worth buying. You can also find bottled blood orange juice at many grocery stores.

Cheater tip: If you like the look but can’t find blood oranges, a drizzle of pomegranate juice or cranberry juice would work too!

What’s the best tequila to use?

Many people suggest using tequila blanco for margaritas, but generally we prefer the robust flavor of tequila reposado. Here’s what to know about the best tequila for margaritas

  • Tequila blanco (silver or white tequila) has been aged less than 2 months and has a strong, straightforward flavor.
  • Tequila reposado (“rested” in Spanish) is aged longer, from 2 to 12 months. It has a more nuanced flavor, with notes of oak and vanilla.

Either way, try to find a mid-price range tequila when you make an Italian margarita. Look for 750 ml bottles in the range of $22 to $35.

Amaretto bottle with Italian margarita.

What is amaretto?

Amaretto is an almond liqueur that originates from Italy. Today it’s made around the world and is stocked in bars worldwide. It has a distinctive flavor that’s both sweet and bitter (amaretto means in Italian “little bitter”). You may know the flavor from the popular amaretto cookies, a popular Italian sweet.

It’s worth getting a bottle for your shelf: you can use it in cocktails and in desserts! More drinks that feature amaretto are an Amaretto Sour, Amaretto Coffee, or a French Connection.

How to make an Italian margarita: step by step

The Italian margarita follows the typical margarita pattern: salt the rim, shake in a cocktail shaker, strain, garnish, serve. Shaking the drink allows it to get thoroughly chilled while slightly diluting the alcohol. Here’s an overview of how to make an Italian margarita (or jump to the recipe below):

  1. Step 1: Rim the glass with salt. Our favorite way is to cut a notch in a lime wedge and run it around the glass. Then dip the glass into a plate of kosher salt or flaky sea salt and rotate until the rim is covered.
  2. Step 2: Shake the tequila, orange juice, lime juice, and amaretto in a cocktail shaker with 4 ice cubes until cold.
  3. Step 3: Strain into the glass and serve. Garnish with an orange and lime wedge. You’ve made your Italian margarita!

Food to serve with Italian margaritas

Quick note: what type of food would you serve with Italian margaritas? You can go either way: Mexican or Italian style!

Two ways to step it up

Last note: here are a few ways to take this Italian margarita over the top! Alex and I love to make these when we have time:

  • Clear ice is artisanal ice that is perfectly clear (not cloudy), and looks like fancy ice you’d get in a bar. It’s absolutely game changing for your homemade cocktails!
  • This margarita salt with colorful orange and green of citrus zest is eye-catching and perfect for entertaining.
Italian margarita

More margarita recipes

Alex and I are big margarita fans over here, so we’ve got lots of spins on this classic drink. Here are some of our favorite margarita recipes:

Frequently asked questions

Is it just a margarita with amaretto?

While amaretto is a key ingredient, an Italian Margarita offers a more complex flavor profile compared to a classic margarita. The amaretto adds a touch of almond sweetness that complements the tequila and lime.

What makes it “Italian”?

Amaretto, a sweet almond liqueur, is originally from Italy. This liqueur adds a distinctive Italian touch to the margarita.

Is it shaken or stirred?

An Italian Margarita is typically shaken with ice to create a frothy texture, similar to a classic margarita.

What’s the best way to rim the glass?

For an Italian touch, dip the rim of the glass in amaretto before coating it with sugar or a coarse salt like sea salt.

Do I have to use blood orange juice?

Not at all! You can use standard orange juice and the drink will be orange in color.

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Italian margarita

Italian Margarita


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x

Description

This Italian margarita recipe uses amaretto to give this classic cocktail a makeover! Fresh orange juice and almond liqueur bring unique twist to the flavors that’s irresistible.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) tequila blanco or reposado*
  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) fresh squeezed orange juice or blood orange juice
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) amaretto
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) lime juice
  • Kosher salt or flaky sea salt (or margarita salt), for the rim
  • For the garnish: Lime wedge, orange slice
  • Clear ice, if serving on the rocks

Instructions

  1. Cut a notch in a lime wedge, then run the lime around the rim of a glass. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of kosher or flaky sea salt.
  2. Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 4 ice cubes and shake until cold.
  3. Strain the margarita into the glass with the salted rim. Fill the glass with ice and serve garnished with a lime wedge and orange slice. (Consider using our clear ice for an artisan touch.)

Notes

Using blood orange juice gives the drink a bright red color; you can also use fresh squeezed orange juice for an orange color. Both drinks taste similarly citrusy. 

For fun rim ideas, try margarita salt (with orange and lime zest), or a spicy Tajin rim. You could also use superfine sugar for rimming to bring out the sweet notes in the amaretto.

  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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8 Comments

  1. MP4 JUICE says:

    Made this recipe for my book club and it was a huge hit! The combination of limoncello and tequila is absolutely genius. Will definitely be making it again soon

  2. Janet P. says:

    Hello! Wondering if I could substitute using Liber&Co’s blood orange cordial in place of the blood orange juice? If so, would you recommend altering the recipe at all?
    By the way, your whiskey sour recipe is my absolute favorite and it’s always a hit when I make it for family and friends! Thank you!!!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Thanks for the comment! The cordial should work, but you might want to decrease the amaretto or up the lime just a tad to balance out the sweetness.

  3. Emma H says:

    Could this be made in a larger quantity and served in a pitcher?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Yes! Just multiply x8

  4. Cathy Lingard says:

    I like your ideas for Italian Margaritas! Can they be made into a “frozen margarita” ?
    Thanks,
    Cathy






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I would try freezing the orange juice into cubes and then blending all together. You might need to add a bit more ice when blending but it would be good!

  5. Donna Z says:

    Great twist on the traditional marg! Loved the subtle flavor of the amaretto.