Ultimate Margarita

This ultimate margarita is made with tequila, agave, and lime juice. Nothing else. It isn’t the classic margarita. It’s unspeakably better. So much so that we think it’s the best. So does everyone else who’s tasted it and gone back for seconds.

Three glasses of ultimate margarita with lime wedges.

This ultimate margarita requires just three easy-to-memorize ingredients—tequila, lime, and agave nectar. You read that correctly. It exchanges cloying Cointreau for a splash of sweet agave nectar. What results is exceptionally smooooooooth and dangerously sippable. Just ask anyone who’s tried it…and then inevitably gone back for more. Renee Schettler Rossi

What About Cointreau? Note

Nothing against Cointreau, but some of us simply don’t care for it in our margarita. We don’t want that sweetly tart citrus zing cloying things up and obscuring the taste of a proper silver tequila. If you like Cointreau, that’s fine, we’re not knocking your taste and we’re not saying one way or the other is right or wrong. Just kindly don’t tell us how to make our margs.

Ultimate Margarita

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes 8
3.7/5 - 3 reviews
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Combine the tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar or Simple Syrup in a pitcher. Refrigerate until chilled through, about 4 hours.

If using salt to coat the rims of the glasses, pour some into a small dish. Rub 1 lime slice or wedge over half the rim of a coupe glass (if you prefer your margarita straight up) or an old-fashioned glass (if you prefer it on the rocks) or a margarita glass or even a plain old pint glass. Dip the rim of the glass into the salt. Repeat with the remaining glasses.

Fill the pitcher with ice and stir well. Pour the margarita into the prepared glasses, straining out the ice if desired, and garnish each with a lime wedge. (Hosts and hostesses, be certain to toss that lime wedge that you used to rim the glasses in your own cocktail.) Originally published July 26, 2013.

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    Margarita Variations

    • Fruity Margaritas
    • Muddle 24 blackberries with the agave nectar in a pitcher until the berries are lightly crushed and the juices are released. Continue with the recipe.

    • Spicy Margaritas
    • Muddle 16 thin jalapeno slices with the agave nectar in a pitcher until the peppers begin to fall apart. (For a less spicy version, remove the seeds first.) Continue with the recipe.

    • Bright Margaritas
    • Steep 2 hibiscus tea bags or 1 teaspoon dried hibiscus flowers with 8 ounces (1 cup) hot water for 10 minutes. Discard the tea bags or strain the flowers and let the tea cool. Gently spoon some of the tea over the margarita, creating a brilliant red hue on top.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Not sure what to do when a sweltering heatwave hits early summer in the Northeast? Make this ultimate margarita, that’s what! I prefer a simple recipe for my marg, with 3 or 4 ingredients max, a blanco tequila, but no triple sec. The three simple ingredients in this recipe make for a well-balanced—and easily memorized—cocktail. This is not the crazy, sugary mess you might get at your neighborhood family dining establishment. This is a classic and delicious cocktail. I chose to omit the salt simply because it’s not to my taste, but I’m sure it would add a nice layer of flavor to the beverage. I think the agave is key to the balance of flavors here as well, considering both the spirit and sweetener come from the same plant. What I like about this recipe is that you have the proportions (2 tequila: 1 lime: 1 agave), so you can easily downsize the recipe or make an even larger batch. This will be my only recipe for a classic margarita in the future, and I recommend others to convert as well. Cheers!

    This is truly the perfect margarita. It’s pretty much the way I’ve been making mine for years, I just never had an actual recipe. I don’t care for triple sec or Cointreau in my margaritas. This recipe makes a simple, clean-tasting drink with easily adjustable proportions. For two drinks, I used 1/2 cup Espolon Tequila Blanco (very smooth and sporting a nicely designed label to boot), 1/4 cup lime juice, and 1/4 cup agave nectar. You should plan on about 1 lime per drink, but keep in mind that limes vary pretty widely in size and juiciness. Can I just say, however, that I do not plan 4 HOURS in advance for my evening cocktail, so the idea of making the mixture then chilling it and waiting…and waiting…did not appeal to me so much. Luckily, the tequila was already in the freezer, and the limes and agave nectar in the fridge, so the ingredients were pre-chilled. Do chill the mixture on ice right before serving, even if you are serving the drinks on the rocks, as I did. It’s so much nicer in these hot and humid times. I’m glad I sprung for the 750-ml bottle of tequila, because now I can have my chilled Ultimate Margarita whenever I wish. No waiting!


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    1. One thing to note for anyone trying this in the UK is that agave nectar sold in the UK is usually thicker and more viscous than in the US. Using the quantities here would result in something far too sweet. You’re aiming for the consistency of simple sugar syrup so make sure you dilute if it’s too thick!

    2. So we all know there’s as many margarita recipes as there are bartenders. However, for those of you with a dislike for Cointreau, Triple Sec, Grand Mariner etc. (hence the “coin style”), I encourage you to seek out a liqueur by Pierre Ferrand distillery in France, called “Dry Curaçao”. It’s a blend of brandy, Ferrand Cognac and bitter orange peels. It is truly a remarkable add-in for your margarita, without adding any cloying sweetness, and is wonderful on its own ( just taking a big ‘ol slug out the bottle). Oops.

      1. I’m definitely in the group that likes the hint of orange but I too find Cointreau a little too sweet. A great alternative that I was recommended recently at a speciality store is Combier Original, a triple sec that is much dryer and somehow more ‘orangey’ than Cointreau, if a little more expensive. Definitely worth a try if you want something a bit more sophisticated.

    3. Okay, I’m pretty much booze challenged. I bought some Citronge thinking it was an infused vodka or something. Heh. (I didn’t notice the Patron brand until I got it home.) So, could I just use that here in place of the tequila? I know it will give it an orange flavor, but can I? Can I, please?

      I’ve had this for a year and haven’t known what to do with it. 😉

      1. Well, ruthie, I just don’t know what you’ll end up with. I hate to say no, but just know that it won’t be quite the same as the margarita that makes our knees go wobbly. If you decide to try it, kindly let us know how it worked! And if you decide not to try it, perhaps you have a booze-loving friend you could gift that to?

    4. Well, mine has many fans. I’m just saying…
      Frances’ Margaritas
      8 large limes, juiced
      4 large lemons, juiced
      6 key limes, juiced, keep the juiced fruit
      Simple syrup = ½ cup sugar + ½ cup water, heat to dissolve, cool to room temp
      3 jiggers (1 ½ oz each) Silver Patron tequila
      3 jiggers (1 ½ oz each) Grand Marnier
      1 cup fresh orange juice

      Combine all and serve over ice. Too sweet add more lime. Too sour add more simple syrup. And salted glass a must. Makes about 6 servings.

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