Learning how to make a classic 3-2-1 margarita is as easy as counting to three. They’re delicious, too, which is all the more reason to celebrate with one.
Long, long, ago in college land, there lived a bunch of young kids who liked to think that frozen Margaritas were a “classic” Mexican drink.In real grown-up land, the classic Margarita is a 3-2-1 ratio of tequila, orange liqueur, Grand Marnier (or Cointreau), and lime juice. It is not frozen, but rather, served on the rocks. Some people sweeten classic margaritas with a bit of simple syrup or agave nectar. I prefer a small amount of simple syrup in mine, and I also like to add a bit of lime zest.
Here in sunny Southern California, limes are 10 for a buck, so it’s a pretty easy summer-time drink. Salting the rim of the glass is optional. As long as you adhere to the 3-2-1 ratio, you can make as many margaritas as you wish!
What’s the best tequila to use for margaritas?
Use the best quality tequila you can afford. I prefer silver or white tequila for margaritas. There’s a reason that a margarita made with Grand Marnier is called a “Cadillac”. Simple syrup is a bar staple for many mixed drinks, and it’s also perfect for sweetening iced tea. I prefer to serve them in smaller rocks glasses rather than giant fish bowls.
Use fresh lime juice!
This is not the time to use Margarita mix or frozen lime juice, you won’t get the same results. Fresh lime juice, top quality tequila, orange liqueur and simple syrup to taste are all you need for this classic Mexican drink.
What’s Triple Sec?
Triple Sec is an orange based liqueur originally from Curaçao. For a top quality margarita, make sure you don’t buy generic triple sec. Cointreau or Pierre Ferrand are excellent triple sec brands. Grand Marnier while also an orange liqueur, is brandy based. Here’s an article for more about the differences between Curaçao and triple sec.
How do you make a “Cadillac” Margarita?
A classic Margarita is made with aged tequila, triple sec (see above), and fresh lime juice. To make a Cadillac Margarita, simple substitute Grand Marnier for the triple sec.
How do you make a “Skinny Girl” Margarita?
The best part about making homemade Margaritas, and not using pre-mixed or sugar filled mixers is that you can control the amount of sweetness. Instead of making the simple syrup with sugar, substitute Swerve. or another sweetener. Traditionally agave nectar is used. When you’re using top quality tequila, Cointreau or Grand Marnier, you’ll find you don’t need much more than a teaspoon or two of simple syrup to sweeten your Margarita. If it’s too sweet, you’ll lose the other flavors.
How To Make A Classic 3-2-1 Margarita
- 6 ounces tequila 3 parts
- 4 ounces orange liqueur 2 parts (triple sec, Grand Marnier or Cointreau
- 2 ounces fresh lime juice 1 part
- 2 Tablespoons Simple syrup or agave nectar (or to taste)
- Kosher salt for rims of glasses
- Fresh lime slices for garnish
- Optional: zest of lime
- Into a cocktail shaker with ice, mix 3 parts tequila, 2 parts orange liqueur and 1 part lime juice, simple syrup, to taste and zest of one lime, if desired. Shake.
- Rub a wedge of lime around the rim of a rocks glass. Coat rim with kosher salt. Fill with ice.
- Strain our margaritas into glasses and garnish with lime slices.
How do you make simple syrup?
Simple syrup is a basic bar staple consisting of equal parts sugar and water. If you’re planning on making a few pitchers or are throwing a party, you’ll want to make a pitcher of simple syrup ahead of time.
How do you make fruit Margaritas?
Use this base recipe and add fresh fruit, herbs or spices to make custom Margaritas. A fun interactive party is the a Make Your Own Margarita Party.
- 1 part sugar
- 1 part water
- Bring water and sugar to boil, stirring, just until sugar has dissolved.
- Turn off heat and cool.
- Store syrup in a jar or bottle in refrigerator.
We’re heading down to my sister’s for a barbecue today and I’m going to bring the makings for this drink, thanks for the ratio tip – now I can make a HUGE batch 🙂
Kristi @ Inspiration Kitchen says
Nice! A simple Margarita that is easy to make and looks absolutely delicious! YUM! Perfect for summer.
A margarita is the perfect summertime drink!
Chris @ The Café Sucré Farine says
I love how simple you’ve made this Cynthia and I’m quite jealous of 10 limes for a dollar!
Chris that is the best part of living in southern california, our produce is so inexpensive!
Katalina @ Peas and Peonies says
Right in time for our opening pool party, so ready to make tis for our friends!
Katalina, it’s the perfect summertime drink!
I am deffinitely prepare some of these later today. It has been a looong week and they sound amazing.
the perfect weekend drink for sure!
Lily Lau says
The perfect post for Saturday night! Need to try it tonight, thanks for sharing 😀
Sheena @ Tea and Biscuits says
I think I’ve only had a Margarita once before, clearly I need to remedy that as your recipe is making my mouth water!!
Lol Sheena! you’re missing out!
I think there’s an error in your recipe to get 321 should be 2 oz lime if the others are 6 and 4oz . Recipe states 1 oz
thank you for pointing that out! I’ll amend!
Chef Mimi says
This is very interesting to me. I can’t wait to try out your version. I go by the 1-1-1 ratio. Just Tequila, an orange liqueur, usually Cointreau, and pure lime juice. Nothing else. They’re good! But I’ll try yours soon.
I used to work in a bar and pub…this is a pretty standard ratio for margaritas. Let me know what you think!
I love a good margarita, and this recipe really makes it simple for me to remember! I love how well balanced the flavors all are!
The ratio ensures that the balance between sour and sweet is perfect. Thanks!
Carrie Robinson says
Oh yum! I just love a good margarita on the rocks! Going to have to try this recipe soon. 🙂
It’s perfect for a crowd too! thanks!
Oh wow, this looks amazing!! If I wasn’t pregnant right now I would be making this tonight! Bookmarked for after the baby arrives, thanks so much for the recipe 🙂
Paula M. says
We’ve been using this recipe pretty consistently for a long time. I sometimes add frozen fruit if I want to make a frozen margarita, but the ratios make it a perfect margarita no matter what kind fruit we add.
Thank you for the nice comment.
Elaine R. says
Easiest and best margarita recipe! Thanks so much for this, it’s made my life so much easier (and delicious)!
Sara Welch says
Love a good cocktail with a kick and this was no exception! So quick and easy; it was exactly what I needed at the end of a long day!
Thank you! Ole!
This is perfect for the weekend and the perfect summer drink! Excited to make this soon! Saved for the weekend. My hubby and I are going to enjoy this drink! Thank you for sharing!
you’re welcome! Cheers!
The golden ratio.. forget about the oz and ml, stick to the golden ratio and you have yourself the perfect margarita for a laid back Friday evening.
exactly! perfect every time!
Chef Mimi says
I’ll have to try this! I try all of the ratios out…. My favorite is 1:1:1. I guess you like yours stronger!