Best Cheap Margaritas for a Party

margariter

This recipe for Margaritas was developed for a Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston, Texas, that is a well-known destination for the drink, especially during happy hour.

Don’t get me wrong, I can make a premium Margarita with expensive Don Julio, Cointreau, and freshly-squeezed lime juice, but surprisingly it’s not that much better than this crowd-pleaser and Cinco de Mayo favorite.

Margarita

  • 1½ ounces Lunazul 100% Agave Blanco Tequila or other 100% agave blanco tequila
  • ½ ounce DeKuyper O3 Orange Liqueur or other triple sec
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce Minute Maid frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
  • 1 cup of ice

— Add the tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice mix to a shaker with ice.  Shake until chilled, and serve in a glass with ½ of the rim salted.  If you want to make the preparation even easier, mix 2 parts of fresh lemon juice with 1 part Minute Maid limeade concentrate, and use 3/4 ounce of this mix with the tequila and triple sec.

Using All Fresh Juice: If you feel like squeezing fresh juice, mix 2 part of fresh lemon juice with 1 part Persian lime juice (the limes most commonly found in grocery stores) and use ¾ ounce of this mix instead of the lemon juice/limeade combo.

For pitchers of frozen margaritas, pour 12 ounces of tequila, 4 ounces of triple sec, 4 ounces of lemon juice, and 2 ounces of Minute Maid limeade concentrate into a blender with 3 or 4 handfuls of ice, and blend on high speed.

Lunazul costs about $20 and deserves all of its prestigious awards.  Olmeca Altos is also a good bargain.  Agavales mixes very well and costs under $15. DeKuyper O3 Orange is no Cointreau, but it’s half the price and works beautifully with these Margaritas.

Other tequilas in the $20 range we’ve tested are Campo Azul Reposado (the gold one).  Espolon makes a smooth, sweeter margarita with a milder taste. Other highly-rated tequilas in this price range include El Padrino and Pueblo Viejo. Sauza Hornitos Reposado (gold) is popular in Mexico, and will give you an enjoyable burn.

For Strawberry Margaritas, add 2 fresh or frozen strawberries per drink, before mixing.

 

Cheap award-winning tequila makes cheap great margaritas
Cheap, award-winning, and makes cheap great margaritas
Fancy margarita glasses or garnishes are not always necessary.
Fancy glasses or garnishes not required.

Best Margarita Recipe with Cointreau

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The most important element of a premium Margarita is the lime juice. Key limes, also known as Mexican or West Indies limes, are important. They can be found in most Latin or Asian supermarkets, and in the exotic produce section of many other markets.

This shaken margarita is a mix of accclaimed tequila, Cointreau, and Key lime juice that balances the sweet, sour, and spirits with no added sugar.

  • 1½ ounces of 100% blue agave silver tequila
  • ¾ ounce of Cointreau
  • ¾ ounce fresh-squeezed Key lime juice

— Hold a tumbler glass upside down, and rub a cut lime on one half of the rim.  Dip, but don’t twist, the outside of the wet rim into a dish of Morton Sea Salt.  Pour tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice into a mixing glass with ice.  Shake 40 times and strain onto ice cubes in the salted glass.

If you can’t find Key limes, then a mix of 2 parts lemon juice with 1 part regular Persian) lime juice is better than pure Persian lime juice.

Recommended tequilas are Milagro, Herradura, Avion, Pura Vida, Siembra Azul, Dos Lunas, Tapatio, Patron, and Corazon.  A few reposado (gold) tequilas mix well in margaritas, such as Dos Lunas and Izkali. Expensive tequilas like El Tesoro or Don Julio are better left for sipping.

The Cointreau can be replaced with Marie Brizard Triple Sec or Combier, but they’re harder to find. Grand Marnier is made with cognac, so it adds that taste, as does Ferrand Dry Curacao. Patron Citronage is not recommended.

Frozen Margaritas

Premium shaken margaritas are great for tiny gatherings, but if you have lots of people, they take too much time to prepare. Replace them with these tasty Cheap Margaritas.  Guests will be pleased, and so will you.  If you want strawberry frozen margaritas, just add two fresh or frozen strawberries per drink before blending it.

 

Best Tequila for Margaritas

2 tequilas

You can make expensive margaritas or cheap ones, and the taste shouldn’t be all that different, if you use the right ingredients.

1)  Premium Margaritas require Cointreau and medium-priced 100% blue agave blanco tequila. (click here for recipe)

2) Cheap “House” Margaritas are best made with strong-tasting low-priced 100% blue agave tequila, and triple sec. (click here for recipe)

Premium Margaritas

Highly recommended Margarita mixing tequilas are Siembra Azul (Blue Harvest) and Pura Vida, which by no coincidence are produced by the same company, Feliciano Vivianco Y Asociados.  You also can’t go wrong with Milagro, Avion, Dos Lunas, and Patrón. Other solid recommendations are Cazadores and Herradura.

Izkali makes a reposado tequila that is award-winning in margaritas.  And Sauza Hornitos Reposada gives a flavorful burn.  Sauza Hornitos is the choice of many many bartenders in Mexico.

If you have premium El Tesoro or Don Julio, by all means, sip it, but don’t expect it to make a significantly better cocktail.  Tapatio, a lower-priced blanco by the producer of El Tesoro (in a wonderfully cheap-looking bottle) is a better value.

Better yet, go to Neal McDonald’s website Proof 66 and decide for yourself.

Cheap Margaritas

I have not found anything that comes close to Lunazul or Agavales.  A lot of Texas restaurants are now using one of these in their house margaritas, for good reason, and it’s ridiculously cheap.

El Jimador is a cheap favorite in Mexico,  and Espolon has a mild taste. Milagro on sale isn’t expensive, and gets universal raves. I did not like the Sauza Blue in the picture above, but I’ll highly recommend Sauza Hornitos Reposado. Pueblo Viejo is a superb value.

I realize there are some other excellent tequilas out there, but these choices are just the bottles that are widely available in liquor stores in the U.S.A.