A Classic Margarita

While I can confidently walk into almost any kitchen, examine the contents of the fridge and pantry, and put together a delicious meal, I can’t say the same thing about bars and cocktails. When I look at a stocked bar, I’m unable to come up with a satisfying and interesting drink combination. Sure, I can make a mean martini, but in terms of home mixology, I almost always follow a recipe. However, lately I’ve been trying to step up my game in the cocktail crafting department.

It started a couple of weeks ago when my friend Emily and I experimented with cocktails at the cabin. We had fresh peaches and mint, limes and lemons, and tequila, rum, gin, or vodka. I concocted three variations of the same libation and was utterly disappointed with all of them. For about a week, I obsessed about what I was doing wrong and that’s when I realized I was thinking too big. As a novice cook, I began making easy dishes that I was familiar with — guacamole, grilled cheese, pasta carbonara, so why not apply the same philosophy to drinks? Thus, I set out to create my own recipe for one of my favorite drinks: the classic margarita.

There’s tons of margarita recipes out there and while I love me a good Tommy’s style marg (a simple variation with tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar), I feel like the orange liqueur adds a nice balance to it. Okay, fine, that’s a total lie: I’m just a booze hound and I like a full 3 ounces of alcohol in my drinks! As for the sweetener, I use simple syrup. I always have sugar and water, but I don’t always have agave nectar or honey. Also, I strongly dislike a blended margarita and prefer them on the rocks with salt.


1 lime, sliced in half
Salt, poured into a shallow plate
2 ounces of tequila
1 ounce of orange liqueur (triple sec, grand marnier, or cointreau)
1 scant* tablespoon simple syrup

  1. Rub half of the lime around the top edge of a short glass. Dip the wet rim into the salt, creating a salted rim. Set the glass aside.
  2. Juice them lime. You should have 1/2 ounce of lime juice.
  3. In a cocktail shaker combine the lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur, and simple syrup. Add ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
  4. Fill the prepared salt-rimmed glass with fresh ice and strain the margarita into the glass. Enjoy immediately.

Serves 1.

*I apologize for using the word scant. When pouring the simple syrup, don’t overflow the tablespoon, just barely fill it. Otherwise you’ll end up with a marg that’s too sweet.

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