11 Margarita Variations to Take the Cocktail to the Next Level
Upgrade your classic margarita with these delicious additions, swaps and new techniques. One sip of these margarita variations and you'll never go back!
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Start with the Basics
You’ll never go wrong with the classic margarita: a combination of tequila, orange liqueur and fresh lime juice in a 3-2-1 ratio, mixed with ice and served with salt on the rim of the glass. But sometimes you want to get a little creative. Using our classic margarita recipe as a base, mix and match any of these amazing suggestions for a whole new way to make a margarita. By the way, make sure you have a few of these margarita glasses on hand!
Blended or frozen margaritas transform this cocktail into a bona fide summertime (or anytime) treat. Learn how to make a frozen margarita to upgrade the classic recipe, or combine it with another margarita variation on this list for something totally new.
Switch the Tequila Type
There are two types of tequila you’re probably already familiar with, blanco (or silver) and reposado. Blanco tequila is unaged tequila that is clear, strong and the usual choice for margaritas. Reposado tequila, on the other hand, is aged in oak barrels for up to a year, giving it a golden color and more mellow flavor.
But those aren’t the only types of tequila you can use in a margarita. While they’re typically reserved for sipping, añejo and extra añejo, which are aged for 1 to 3 years and 3-plus years respectively, will add a rich, caramelized and luxurious flavor to a marg. You could also use joven tequila: It’s a blend of blanco and aged tequila with a smooth and citrusy flavor. If can’t decide which would work best for your taste buds, check out our picks for the best tequilas for making margaritas.
Skip the Tequila
Believe it or not, a margarita doesn’t have to use tequila. Instead, turn to a bottle of mezcal. Similar to tequila in that it’s made from agave in Mexico, mezcal is fermented with roasted piña, giving the spirit a smoky, earthy taste. Like añejo and extra añejo tequila, mezcal is usually enjoyed on its own, but it can certainly be used to boost the flavor of a margarita. Here’s our full guide on what mezcal is and the best ways to drink it.
Go for a Fruit-Flavored Margarita
Whether you go with a strawberry margarita, a white peach margarita, a kumquat margarita, or even a frozen Sriracha-mango margarita, fruit and margaritas make a perfect pair. If you’re partial to margaritas on the rocks, fruit puree is your best bet for some fruity flavor. For frozen margaritas, simply toss a few pieces of fresh or frozen fruit into the blender as you’re making the margarita. Check out our favorite flavored margarita recipes for some fruity inspiration.
Change the Citrus
While limes are the typical choice for margaritas, you’re definitely not limited to them! Swap out some or all of the lime for lemon, grapefruit, blood orange or tangerine juice to change the cocktail’s flavor and color. If you pick a citrus that’s even more tart than limes, add a dash of simple syrup or agave nectar to balance the drink out. Love grapefruit and tequila? We’ll show you how to make a Paloma, your new favorite cocktail.
Taste of Home
Make It a Beer Margarita
If you can never decide between a beer or a margarita, this margarita variation is just the ticket. Mix a classic margarita in a pint glass with some ice and top with one of these Mexican-style beers for a refreshing mash-up. Or, throw together a pitcher with our cerveza margaritas.
Add Some Heat
One of the best ways to upgrade your margarita is to add a little spice to it. This can be done by adding about half an ounce of chile liquor to your margarita or infusing the tequila with your choice of hot pepper, like in our Texas Red River margarita. With either method, be sure to add just a bit of heat at a time, and adjust to taste. Peppers also make a pretty garnish for your margarita!
Try a Different Orange Liqueur
Orange liqueur is used to give a margarita some brightness (it’s one of the key ingredients), but not all orange liqueurs taste the same. Triple sec, the margarita go-to and most affordable option, runs on the sweeter side. Cointreau uses a blend of sweet and bitter oranges for a balanced, yet intense orange flavor. Grand Marnier is made from aged cognac and bitter oranges, for a richer, slightly more bitter flavor.
Infuse the Tequila
No matter which type of tequila you use, you can bump up the flavor by infusing the alcohol before adding it to your marg. To do so, place a cup and a half of tequila in a mason jar and add sliced pieces of whichever fruit, herb or vegetable you’d like to infuse the tequila with. Some of our favorites include jalapeno, pineapple and cilantro, but the sky’s the limit!
Let the tequila infuse for four to seven days, giving the jar a shake once a day. Then, strain and mix the tequila into a margarita as usual. By the way, this is how tequila is made.
Few things pair with citrus better than a bunch of fresh herbs. Mint, basil, thyme and rosemary all work well with a classic or fruit-flavored margarita. To use fresh herbs, you can either muddle the leaves in the bottom of your glass before making your margarita or simply float a few leaves in your drink for a more subtle flavor. Have a crowd coming over? Learn how to make a pitcher of margaritas in a snap.
Add a Liqueur
When it comes to margaritas, don’t be afraid to experiment with other liqueurs. The addition of amaretto, melon liqueur, raspberry liqueur or ginger liqueur will completely change the flavor profile, giving you an unusual (and delicious!) margarita variation. For more inspiration, read up on our best margarita recipes of all time.