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Classic Margarita Recipe, Substitutes and History

If you’re looking for a fantastic Margarita recipe, look no further! The That’s So PaPo’s Margarita recipe will give you everything you need for a tremendous Margarita. Let’s jump straight to the recipe – and if you need some Margarita alternatives, or don’t have all the ingredients you need, have a read below!

Margarita Recipe

  • 50ml Reposado Tequila (we use El Sueno)

  • 25ml Triple Sec (we use Giffard Pacifico)

  • 25ml Lime Juice


  • Shake with ice. Then strain and pour into a Martini glass.

More info on how to adjust your Margarita Recipe depending on what you have at home is below!

Adjusting the Margarita recipe at home:

Okay, so not everybody has a fully stocked cocktail bar at home. Or, you might have the ingredients but no shaker. Well, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

No cocktail shaker?

Cocktail shakers are, to be blunt, just something you can shake some liquids in that won’t spill. So let’s get creative in finding an alternative. Do you have a thermos flask or a portable coffee mug? Make sure they’re clean, then use that. Some cups even have a small button to just let out a small amount of liquid at a time. If you’ve got that, then great – you’ve got a strainer too!

No Triple Sec?

Triple Sec is an orange flavoured liqueur and makes up a quarter of a classic margarita recipe. But what if you don’t have any? Essentially, you need to bring in something with some of those citrusy and sweet flavours. These will all make excellent Margaritas, although they might taste slightly different from what you get at your local Taco Tuesday! These can all be replaced like for like (i.e. 25ml) with Triple Sec:

  • Cointreau – okay, so Cointreau is (essentially) a triple sec, but it’s one that you might have stashed at the back of your cupboard. It’s also a bit stronger than most other Triple Secs. Still, it makes a banging Margarita!

  • Grand Marnier – similarly to Cointreau, Grand Mariner is more potent than most Triple Secs and is closer to a Curaçao in terms of its composition. However, it still brings that orange sweetness to the Margarita.

  • Curaçao – another orange liqueur, but usually has a rum base and includes Lahara, a bitter orange native to the Dutch island of Curaçao. It works great in a Margarita!

  • Maraschino Liqueur – okay, we’re straying away from the orange flavour here with a cherry liqueur that works to give your Margarita that fragrant cherry lift and soft depth to its flavour.

  • Agave syrup/honey/sugar syrup – not alcohol this time, but a little sweetness. Using agave syrup instead of Triple Sec essentially gives you a Tommy’s Margarita – one of our favourite twists on a Margarita. If you’re really stuck, you could try some honey or some simple sugar syrup (see how to make your own here: link). You might want to adjust the sweetness depending on your taste.

No lime?

You need some tart citrus flavour to give the Margarita its edge. But if you’ve run out of limes, what can you use?

  • Lemon – of course! Swap the lemon 1:1 and what you’ve just made is a Tequila Daisy. Great taste, different name. We still prefer a Margarita. And did you know Margarita is Spanish for daisy? The more you know…

  • Grapefruit juice – okay, you’re moving towards a Paloma here, but that’s no bad thing! We’d recommend dialling back the Triple Sec to around 15ml because Grapefruit is a little sweeter than lime juice.

No tequila?

Okay, this is a tricky one. You can always switch up the Reposado that we’ve recommended for a Blanco or Añejo, and you’re still going to end up with a Margarita. Some people prefer their Margaritas with a Blanco or an Añejo, so this is just a matter of taste. If you’re completely out of tequila, though, what can you do..?

First off, you won’t be making a Margarita Recipe, but something different. But that’s okay!

  • Rum – switch the tequila out for rum, and you’ve more or less switched from a Margarita Recipe to a Daiquiri Recipe.

  • Gin – yep, you heard it here first; a gin margarita is a delicious thing.

  • Vodka – not a million miles away from a crisp Blanco margarita, a good quality vodka margarita can still hit the spot.

  • Bourbon – yep, this is the wildcard entry! If you swap out your tequila for a decent bourbon, we’d recommend ditching the Triple Sec for some agave syrup or honey. Okay, you’re a pretty long way from a Margarita, but you’re still knocking yourself up a delicious drink!

And there you go, lots of ways to make your Margarita Recipe work, regardless of what ingredients you have to hand. Get creative! And let us know how your results turned out by tagging us on Instagram with our handle @thatssopapos or using the hashtag #thatssopapos

So, where does it originate?

Margarita is Spanish for daisy, and the Daisy is a family of cocktails dating back to the Victorian era made with a base spirit, citrus juice and sweetened with syrup. The Daisy became popular in the 20th century, with a Tequila daisy featuring in writing in 1936 in a description of a visit to Tijuana, Mexico, where it was attributed to a drink made originally by mistake that then hit it off.

A Picador predates the margarita by 16 years, published in the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book. The proportions are identical to a modern Margarita, ¼ lime, ¼ Cointreau, ½ Tequila, shaken.

A Tequila Sour is first mentioned in 1939s in The World Famous Cotton Club:1939 Book of Mixed Drinks, in the ratios of 3/2 Tequila, ½ Cointreau, ½ lime, shaken and garnished with lime and a salted rim.

It was not until 1953 that the Margarita name appeared in a Californian newspaper as Tequila, Triple Sec and lime, and again in 1955, where it is attributed to being invested by Johnny Dresser in 1937.

So who really invented it? Well, we don’t really know, but plenty of people claim to between 1930 and 1970. Bertha’s Bar in Mexico, the LA distributor of Jose Cuervo in 1937 (to which there is some supporting evidence), the famous Tommy’s Place in Mexico, where it was a remix of a Magnolia, a cocktail named after the actress Marjorie King at Rancho La Gloria in 1948 and many others!


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