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Jun 1, 2010 09:37 AM

I Cannot Seem to Make a Decent Margarita

Help! My barbeque yesterday was great except for my lousy margaritas! I've tried numerous recipes and they are never very good. Yesterday's was fresh lime juice, cointreau, and Cuervo Gold. Too strong and missing something...I don't know what. I poured it into a pitcher and added salt to the rim, a lime to the glass--but still not very good. Please point me in the drection of a foolproof margarita!

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  1. unless your ratios were way off the only thing you missed was using Cuervo Gold instead of a decent 100% agave silver tequila.

    start with equal parts of lime, Cointreau, and tequila, and adjust based on your taste.

    as far as the drink being too strong, it's a cocktail, and one which generally contains 80% spirits. what how would it be anything other than strong?

    7 Replies
    1. re: tommy

      I super agree with tommy. Ditch that Cuervo swill. You need 100% agave.

      If the drink is too strong for you, you can cut it with oj. This is not traditional at all, but not everyone can hang with really strong drinks.

      1. re: tommy

        I like the 3-2-1 ratio:

        3 parts silver tequila (100% agave, always!)
        2 parts Cointreau
        1 part lime juice

        Shake, strain, enjoy.

        1. re: davis_sq_pro

          I like the 2-1-1 ratio better. not as sweet and not as orangey

          1. re: JMF

            I concur with the 2-1-1 (or even the 1-1-1). Although many people do not want it that dry. Dale Degroff modifies it to 2-1-3/4 (less lime) with the option of a 1/4 of agave nectar.

            Measuring is key regardless of what recipe you use. Otherwise, it will not be reproducible.

            And for good but affordable 100% agave tequilas, I recommend Lunazul. Their reposado sells for $18-20.


            1. re: JMF

              I'll give it a try. I consider the 3-2-1 to be relatively tart as-is; comes down to personal taste I guess. And probably the brand of liqueur you're using, since some will obviously create a sweeter drink in the same proportions.

          2. re: tommy

            Tommy has the best advice start with 1:1:1 and go from there. BUT, I highly recommend you try it with lemon juice instead of lime juice. Everyone has their opinion, try it and see what you think. If you're trying to save a couple bucks, I've noticed that using triple sec in a margarita doesn't completely ruin it. I prefer it with Cointreau, but if I'm making them by the pitcher for a party, triple sec is just fine!

            1. re: Rick

              Yeah, I use standard triple sec for parties for several reasons:
              1) it's cheaper
              2) it's sweeter, which satisfies a larger portion of the population
              3) it's less alcohol, and I don't want people getting loaded on cocktails

              But if I'm making margaritas for just a few people, I can tell the difference between Cointreau and standard triple secs, and I go with Cointreau.

          3. I use Sauza silver, Patron orange liquer (instead of cointreau or grand marnier), fresh lime juice, and a little agave nector. I make a quart sized pitcher, and taste it as I make it, adding whatever is needed, as some limes are tarter than others. Without the agave nector, it's a bit too harsh for most folks who are used to the margs made with sour mix in commercial bars.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Niki in Dayton

              Strongly agree with this advice.As with many drinks, the ingredients might be the same but the proportions vary according to personal taste.I add agave nectar to offset some of the bite from the lime and tequila.If you don't have it you can make some simple syrup instead.I like tart drinks,but find adding some sweetener to the margarita makes it smoother and more sippable.

              1. re: Niki in Dayton

                If I want to make a larger drink for summer, I use a 2:1:1 ratio [2 parts 100% Agave Tequila, 1 part Cointreau, 1 part fresh lime juice] in a highball glass filled with ice and add a few ounces of Simply Limeade (made with cane sugar in your grocer's refrigerated juice section). I'm a purist about a lot of things, but I see nothing wrong with having a drinking session in the summer by adding a little liquid to a traditional margarita.

                1. re: Niki in Dayton

                  Wow this is exactly what I use.

                  And add agave nectar JUST until the saliva-producing sourness is gone.

                2. One thing to keep in mind is that if you're making it in pitchers, the dilution may be slightly different vs. shaking it. Assuming you're serving them on the rocks, that will be mitigated somewhat once the ice melts, but one technique I've seen suggested is to make the pitcher ahead of time, dilute the mixture with water as appropriate (but not adding ice), and then chill for a couple hours in the fridge. Then serve as you would normally (either up or over fresh ice).

                  1. The limes stink this year. Be sure your limes are at room temp before juicing; you get more/better juice that way. You might want to take a zester and make some long peels to drop into the juice to marinate and add flavor.

                    It's essential to use good silver tequila (I use 1800 for everyday). My big secret is to use Mandarine Napoleon liqueur, instead of Cointreau. 3 Tequila 2 lime 2 liqueur. Shake it like mad and serve it "up" in a salt-rimmed glass.

                    In the bartending business, some customers don't appreciate an authentic margarita. They want something made with cloyingly sweet "lemon juice" mix, like Rose's. Or even worse, they ask for some sour mix (Lemon-X) to be added.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: shaogo

                      The increase in juice volume is for the hand squeezer which are incomplete regardless of temperature. Reamers and other juicers that go to completion work the same regardless of temperature (save for frozen).

                      1. re: shaogo

                        I have noticed a HUGE variation in quality of limes. The ones from whole foods are large, thin skinned, fairly expensive (usually about $0.50 each), but yield about 1.5 oz each. The smaller, harder, dryer ones from Trader Joe's or my corner market are cheaper per unit, but yield about 3/4 (if that) per lime. This is with a good pliers-style hand squeezer.

                        For some reason, lemons don't seem to have as much variation.

                        Imagine trying to replicate a recipe that calls for "juice of 1/2 lime" ....

                        As for Margaritas, I heartily recommend that you serve them progressive more and more sour. I have even made them 3:2:1 with 2 parts lime and 1 Cointreau (although 2:1:1 is my norm). It slows down the rate of consumption and makes it more of a drink to be savored, rather than gulped. If made too sweet, you drink it like it's funny limeade and end up drunk before you know it.

                        To my mind, a Margarita is about the peppery tequila flavor, bracing acid, and subtle orange undertones. If it tastes orangy, I think that unbalanced (to my taste). I've been drinking up my Cointreau, anxiously awaiting the Luxardo Triplum that StriperGuy recommended so highly.

                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                          I'm glad others have noticed how bad the limes have been, because I thought it was just my inability to judge a lime (I am not discounting that as a contributing factor). Many of the ones I've been buying (mostly at the supermarket, I admit) have been dry and stringy. Very little juice. I've been using the concentrate lime in the little green botttles to make up for the lack of fresh juice. It's really not a terrible fall back option.

                          As for reciple, I'm a 3-2-1 man myself.

                          1. re: tomjb27

                            Yes, limes have been very bitter lately.

                            1. re: tomjb27

                              If you find that your batch of limes is particularly dry, you can try microwaving them. 20 seconds on full power for 3 limes seems to work on my microzapper. It dramatically increases the juice yield.

                              1. re: tzurriz

                                Is this for limes that you've kept in the fridge? Or do you do this with room temp ones as well? (I keep mine out on the counter.) If it does work for room temp limes, any idea why it seems to do the trick?

                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                  I've done it with both warm and cold limes. I'm no scientist, but I bet that it weakens or even breaks some of the membranes inside the lime which lets more juice out. All I know is that it works.

                                2. re: tzurriz

                                  Just tried your microwave trick with one lime and it seemed to produce more juice ...

                          2. I haven't made one this year, and I've thought of revisiting my last recipe, but when I wrote it down I said 1.5-1-1, which is the same as 3-2-2, as in 3 parts tequila, 2 parts Cointreau (for me thus far it has had to be Cointreau) and 2 parts juice. And I had taken to using part lemon juice as well as lime, roughly half and half lemon and lime juice, or maybe two limes to one lemon. That's not parts in that last case but in fact two physical limes and one lemon, then measure an equal amount of Cointreau, then 1.5x as much 100% agave tequila, either silver or reposado depending upon my mood and what is in the cabinet. I divide this resulting mixture (after shaking, etc) in half for two pretty good sized drinks. ;-)

                            Last summer got hooked on palomas instead, though, and cut way back on margaritas because I don't have to shake the palomas. ;-) I need a shaker that seems like less of a pain. I've been looking at those threads, perhaps that will help.