Here’s the perfect margarita recipe! This Cointreau margarita has pristine flavor from the classic balance of tequila and lime.

Margarita

What’s the in perfect margarita? We’re glad you asked. After making 200+ homemade cocktail recipes, the margarita still wins. The balance of tequila, orange liqueur and lime is so pristine that we can’t get enough of it. This classic 1930’s cocktail has stood the test of time: because it’s just that, well…perfect. Here we’ll show you how to make the perfect margarita using the classic ratio and Cointreau, the best orange liqueur for the job.

Ingredients for the perfect margarita recipe

The margarita is one of the most popular classic cocktails in history. It was invented in Mexico in the 1930’s, and there are lots of competing origin stories. It’s most likely a variant on the the Brandy Daisy (margarita means “daisy” in Spanish). The Daisy is a family of drinks with base liquor, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and soda water.

The margarita became popular during Prohibition, when Americans would travel to Mexico to get alcohol. It went on to become a classic and has stood the test of time. But it’s also spawned many, many variations that have diluted the classic way to make it. For perfect margarita recipe, we recommend the definition by the International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. The ingredients in the perfect margarita are:

  • 1 ½ oz tequila
  • 1 oz Triple Sec or Cointreau (we prefer Cointreau)
  • ¾ oz lime juice
Perfect margarita recipe

Why Cointreau makes the best margarita

Why use Cointreau in a margarita? Cointreau is a type of orange liqueur that’s a cut above Triple Sec, which is often used in this drink. What’s the difference between Cointreau vs Triple Sec? Here’s what to know:

  • Cointreau makes the perfect margarita. It’s balanced between bitter and sweet, with warm spices that add complexity and nuance. It has a fragrant aroma and a smooth, clean finish.
  • Triple Sec has a more straightforward orange flavor with less depth. It’s also cheaper, but we highly recommend the few extra dollars for grabbing a bottle of Cointreau.

What else can you make with a bottle of Cointreau? So many things! Try our Cointreau Drinks like the Sidecar, Cosmo, and more.

Cointreau margarita

Best tequila for a margarita

What tequila makes the perfect margarita? Well, you can use any brand: but we have a preference on the type! Here’s what we’ve found is the best tequila for margaritas:

  • Tequila reposado makes the best margarita. Tequila marked “reposado” is aged from 2 to 12 months. It has a complex flavor, with notes of oak and vanilla.
  • Tequila blanco also works, but it has a more straightforward flavor with that signature tequila burn. Resposado makes a better drink every time!

How to make a perfect margarita: single drink

Once you’ve got your tequila reposado and Cointreau: you’re ready to make the perfect margarita! For a single drink, you’ll need a cocktail shaker. Here’s what to do:

  • Make the salt rim. The best salt to use is kosher salt or flaky sea salt: it has the best texture. (Of course, don’t use table salt!) Place it in a single layer on a plate. Cut a notch in a lime wedge, then run it around the glass. Dip the outside rim of the glass in the salt.
  • Shake up the ingredients. Place the tequila, Cointreau and lime in a shaker with 2 handfuls of ice and shake!
  • Strain and garnish. The perfect margarita is served on the rocks with ice. Try clear ice if you can: it’s crystal clear artisan style ice that looks just like a fancy bar. It’s easy to make: just think 24 hours in advance.
Perfect margarita with Cointreau

Or, make a Cointreau margarita pitcher!

Want to make 8 servings of this perfect Cointreau margarita? You can make a margarita pitcher instead. The important thing about a pitcher: you’ll need to add a specific amount of ice to help dilute the drink like a shaker would. Here’s how to make a Cointreau margarita pitcher that makes 8 servings:

  • 1 ½ cups tequila
  • 1 cup Cointreau
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 3 handfuls ice

Add the ice and stir until cold. That’s it!

More margarita recipes & variations

There are lots more margarita recipes that are riffs on the classic! We’ve got spicy, skinny, fruity, and more. Here are a few more resources:

This perfect margarita recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Margarita

Perfect Margarita (with Cointreau)


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

Description

Here’s the perfect margarita recipe! This Cointreau margarita has pristine flavor from the classic balance of tequila and lime. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) tequila reposado (or substitute tequila blanco)*
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Cointreau
  • ¾ ounce (1 ½ tablespoons) fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt or flaky sea salt, for the rim
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)
  • For the garnish: Lime wedge

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 salt (or for a festive look, use our Margarita 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.

Notes

*To make a pitcher of 8 servings, mix together in a pitcher: 1 ½ cups tequila, 1 cup Cointreau, and ¾ cup lime juice. Add three handfuls of ice and stir until cold. Pour into individual glasses. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Perfect margarita, Perfect margarita recipe, Cointreau margarita, Cointreau margarita recipe

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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