Best Shaken Margarita Recipe

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I tasted 66 different Margarita recipes (not all at once) and most of them were not good. The slight harshness of lime juice combines with the bite of tequila in most of them, while others have too much triple sec, which makes the drink unpleasantly sweet.

The secret of the Best Shaken Margarita Recipe comes from a Houston, Texas restaurant famous for Margaritas. A mere teaspoon of lemon juice brightens up the tequila and lime, and balances the sweetness of the agave nectar. Cointreau or other triple sec is no longer necessary.

  • 1½ ounces of 100% blue agave silver or blanco tequila
  • 2/3 ounce (2 measuring teaspoons) fresh lime juice
  • ½ measuring teaspoon or ½ barspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce agave nectar (undiluted)

— 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 shallow dish with a small pile of Morton Sea Salt (the kind without iodine) or other sea salt. To give you guests a choice of salt or no salt, merely dip half of the rim of the glass into the salt.

Add the tequila, lime juice, lemon juice, and agave nectar into a mixing glass with enough ice to fill the serving glass.  Shake 36 times and dirty-pour the entire contents of the shaker into the salt-rimmed serving glass. Garnish with a lime wheel, half of a lime wheel, or a lime wedge on the rim of the glass.

Lunazul Blanco Tequila is an inexpensive tequila that is ideal for Margaritas.

Recommended tequilas are Milagro, Herradura, Avion, Siembra Azul, Dos Lunas, Tapatio, Patron, and Corazon. Your favorite silver tequila is recommended.

A few reposado (gold) tequilas mix well in margaritas, such as Dos Lunas and Izkali. Expensive tequilas like El Tesoro or Pura Vida are better left for sipping.

Pitchers of House Margaritas (makes 6)

9 ounces 100% blue agave silver or blanco tequila (Lunazul is recommended)

4 ounces freshly-squeeze lime juice

½ ounce freshly-squeezed lemon juice

2 ounces agave nectar (undiluted)

— Fill a pitcher with the tequila, lime juice, lemon juice, and agave nectar. Add ice, thin lime or lemon wheels, and thin orange wheels if you wish.

Frozen Margaritas

Premium shaken margaritas are great for small gatherings, but if you have lots of guests, the drinks take too much time to prepare. With different proportions, and a little triple sec or orange liqueur, you can make these terrific Cheap Margaritas. If you want Strawberry Frozen Margaritas, just add two fresh or frozen strawberries per drink before blending it.

Best Cheap Frozen Margaritas for a Party

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This Margarita was improved on December 12, 2020

It was never easy to make good cheap Margaritas, because the ingredients weren’t very good–cheap tequila was harsh, lime juice remains harsh, and orange triple sec isn’t something to drink on its own.

Nowadays there is excellent and cheap 100% blue agave blanco tequila available, and we have a secret ingredient to brighten the taste of lime juice.  A touch of lemon juice makes all the difference.

No need to use expensive tequila.  Cointreau is the best triple sec for this drink, but other orange liqueurs may be used.  You can make these Margaritas a little better with your favorite premium tequila, but that’s up to you.

Frozen Margarita (makes 4 servings)

  • 6 ounces Lunazul 100% Agave Blanco Tequila or other 100% agave blanco tequila
  • 1 ounce Cointreau, DeKuyper O3 Orange Liqueur, or other triple sec
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 2/3 ounce (4 measuring teaspoons) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 ounces agave nectar (do not dilute with water)
  • 2 cups of ice

— Blend the ice before adding the ingredients. Add the tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, lemon juice, and agave nectar to the blender  Shake until chilled, and serve in a glass with ½ of the rim salted. Garnish with a lime wheel, half of a lime wheel, or a lime wedge on the rim of the glass.

For easier preparation, premix several jars, glasses, or other containers with this recipe, so that you just have to add ice and the contents of the premix containers to the blender.

Lunazul Silver is one of the lowest-priced 100% blue agave tequilas, and deserves all of its prestigious awards.  Olmeca Altos is also a good bargain. DeKuyper O3 Orange is half the price of Cointreau and as well as Cointreau 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.

If you want a Premium Margarita, use a more expensive blanco tequila such as Milagro.

For Strawberry Margaritas, add 8 fresh or frozen strawberries to the blender before mixing.

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

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.