Who Ruined the True Margarita Recipe?

Who Ruined the True Margarita Recipe?

The margarita is by far the most famous tequila cocktail, and sadly the odds are that many tequila fans have never experienced a True Margarita.

The margarita is a fairly recent invention among well-known cocktails. It exploded on the scene in the mid-20th century. There are many tales about its creation, original recipe, and the origin of its’ name, but it’s absolutely no mystery what happened to the quality over the last 50 years – it was decimated. Sadly, the once proud mouth watering tequila cocktail is in most bars now reduced to an over poured, triple sec, sugar laden mess.

The original margarita recipe resembles a much older American cocktail known as The Daisy, which by the way “margarita” is the Spanish word for “daisy” – raising doubt on whether an actual person named, “Margarita” ever really existed. The Margaritas popularity exploded in the 70′s with the rise in interest of all things exotic, including of course tequila. Somewhere between then and now the chain restaurants with thier Tchotchke covered, mixto tequilas and corporate massive producer deals reduced the Margarita to a math formula – “How Cheap Can We Make This Drink to Sell it for the Maximum Profit?”

Tired bars, lazy bartenders, campy chain pubs and tacky tourist destinations assured Margaritas of two major flaws in the past 30 years.

Margarita Flaw #1 – Lousy Tequila

Sub-par tequila ruins a Margarita.  The best Chefs in the World agree, “Choose the best ingredients, and then let the ingredients shine.”  Sadly, this has not found it’s way into the rulebook of every friendly neighborhood bartender.  Spirit selection is absolutely key – incredibly key, one could argue singularly key – to producing high quality cocktails.  In addition to quality, choosing specific spirit manufacturer to match a cocktail is additionally important.  Choose a sweet agave fragrant reposado tequila for a fresh lemon and strawberry muddled Berry-Rita-Ade, and you have an award winning summer sip.  Choose a high quality, but smokey reposado tequila and you ruin a perfectly good drink.


  • 1) Choose 100% Ultr-Premium Tequila
  • 2) Match the Tequila Brand and Flavor Profile to the Cocktail.

Margarita Flaw #2 – Over Sweetening Due to Excessive Triple Sec, Grand Marnier or Cointreau

Do yourself a favor, skip the triple sec altogether.  Instead, use a fresh agave nectar.  The light variety works best in Margaritas.  You’ll get the sweetness that you’re looking for to offset the tang of the fresh  lime juice without stepping on the important and delicate profile of the best tequilas.  Additionally, the orange flavor found in many of the common Margarita additives is very powerful, and can easily overpower the subtle flavors in the best ultra premium tequila.  For example, char, smoke and heavy woods are easy flavors to achieve in tequila production.  Conversely, other flavors are difficult and expensive to produce.  Flavors such as true agave, natural sweetness, citrus, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, spice vanilla, butterscotch or caramel are complex, subtle and easily mistakenly over-powered.


  • 1) If you have a great tequila, with subtle flavor complexities, be very careful not to mask those valuable and delicious flavors.
  • 2) Using fresh lime juice will give you all the citrus profile you need.  Skip citrus sweeteners such as triple sec altogether, and instead utilize fresh lime juice and agave nectar.

Margarita Flaw #Honorable Mention – Blending

Ice melts quickly in the heat, and the smaller the ice the faster the melt-age.  The rate of melt-age of various sizes of ice cube ie the reason why the best bars in the world often have a selection of ice styles available at the Mixologists disposal.   Melted ice, or blending dilutes the margarita, ruining it with over-watering.  Blending is an especially watering process, and is best avoided if you’re trying to capture the true “Full” flavor of the Margarita.

- 2 oz Voodoo Tiki 100% Blue Agave Single Barrel Reposado Tequila
- 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 oz Fresh Agave Nectar

Notice the full ingredients total only 3.5 ounces.  This is because we’ve accounted for approximately 2 ounces of water from melt-age during the ice shaking process.  Straining into a martini glass ends both the cooling and ice melting (watering) processes.

The Voodoo Tiki Margarita recipe is a “Tequila Focus” Margarita recipe which allows the rare flavor complexities of single barrel Voodoo Tiki 100% Blue Agave Reposado Tequila to shine.

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