Ultimate Margarita Guide (History, Tips and More!)


This ultimate margarita guide will become your go-to resource for everything margarita! Whether you’re a hardcore margarita lover or just someone who enjoys a casual sip now and then, knowing about the humble history and the essentials of a margarita will surely give you a deeper appreciation for this iconic tequila cocktail. 

Two margarita glasses alongside jalapeno peppers, salt, lime, lemon, and bottles of El Tesoro Blanco Tequila and Cointreau.
Read our ultimate margarita guide and learn more about this well-loved drink.

A Brief History of Margaritas

Two margarita glasses on a table with ingredients to make the drink including a bottle of tequila, triple sec and a lime with other decorative touches around it.

The exact details of margarita history remain subject to debate among cocktail enthusiasts. 

One theory traces its roots to the 1940s in Mexico. The creation of this drink is attributed to a wealthy socialite named Margarita Sames, who allegedly concocted it for her guests at a house party in Acapulco in 1948.

The combination of tequila, triple sec, and lime juice proved to be an instant hit, especially among her influential friends. The name “Margarita” itself was said to have been coined by Sames’ husband. 

Another famous tale from the ‘40s involves Carlos “Danny” Herrera from Tijuana, Mexico. He is said to have created the Margarita at his Rancho La Gloria for Marjorie King, a customer allergic to many spirits except tequila. Herrera mixed the tequila with lime and triple sec, creating a refreshing solution for his patron. 

That story sounds very similar to the 1948 theory of the margarita. A bartender named Willie from Galveston, Texas supposedly mixed the first margarita for a customer named Margarita, who was a showgirl and was allergic to all hard liquors except tequila.

Even the iconic Jose Cuervo has its tale about the margarita cocktail. According to them, a bartender improvised a cocktail with Cuervo and Mexican lemon to honor a beautiful Mexican showgirl named Rita de la Rosa in 1938.

Regardless of which one is true about the margarita’s origin, the drink quickly gained popularity through word of mouth and being featured in Hollywood films.

Eventually, it became a beloved staple in Mexican and American cocktail culture. It currently holds the honor of being America’s most popular cocktail. And we couldn’t agree more!

What Makes A Good Margarita

A margarita glass alongside lime, lemon, and bottles of El Tesoro Blanco Tequila and Cointreau.

The first cocktail Suzy drank when she turned 21 was a margarita – and after that, she became obsessed. It’s become her go-to cocktail order at every restaurant. Initially, she thought that margaritas were hard to make at home. But curiosity got the better of her, and she started making them for friends and family.

Making the perfect, classic margarita recipe is super easy since you only need three basic ingredients Tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice, and orange liqueur. Together, these capture what makes a margarita so beloved – a mix of tart, sweet, and boozy goodness that makes this cocktail so refreshing!

Related: Easy 3 Ingredient Margarita Recipe (A Classic Margarita)

And once you get this base recipe down, you can get creative and make all kinds of flavor variations! If you aren’t sure what tequila to use, start with whatever you have at home and try new bottles when you run out. You can check out our Mayenda Tequila review, it’s one of our favorites!

Tools and Equipment You’ll Need

Having the right ingredients for making the perfect margarita isn’t enough. You also need some essential tools and equipment.

To make a great margarita, you will need:

We’ve made margaritas without these items before and it totally works (have you seen my snow margarita?) but for the best classic margarita, these are a must!

Different Types of Margaritas 

Over the years, mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts have experimented with the classic Margarita recipe, leading to many variations.

The margarita has proven an adaptable and versatile cocktail, from fruity twists like strawberry and mango to spicy renditions featuring jalapeños or chili-infused syrups. They are easy for beginner cocktail makers to shake up at home but can be made with gourmet ingredients.

Related: 19 Flavored Margarita Recipes for Cinco de Mayo

Aside from different types, there are also different ways to serve a margarita: frozen, on the rocks (or ice cubes), or straight up. And let me tell you, few can beat sipping a deliciously cold margarita on particularly a hot day! 

Suzy’s favorite margarita flavor is Mango, and Chili’s Bar & Grill makes the best Mango Frozen Margarita. You have to try it! I fell in love with tequila a few years ago, so I prefer to stick to a classic or skinny margarita and try different tequilas to see how they change the flavor.

Margarita Mocktail Ideas for Non-Alcoholic Options

Not a fan of alcohol? Not a problem! This ultimate margarita guide covers non-alcoholic versions as well.

Even if you’re not a fan of alcohol or just taking a break from it, you can still enjoy a sip of this classic cocktail any day by drinking a mocktail or a virgin margarita. We LOVE the Mingle Margarita Mocktail. It’s ready-made and so yummy!

A non-alcoholic margarita can be made by mixing basic ingredients such as orange juice, limeade, and a sweetener like agave nectar in a large pitcher, and then serving them in margarita glasses with a lime wedge. 

You can also use club soda or sparkling water with fresh lime juice plus a splash of orange juice for a lighter version. There are also zero-proof tequila substitutes that you can use in place of tequila in a classic recipe. (We love Seedlip Notas de Agave!)

If you want to take your mocktail a step further, you can incorporate frozen fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and mango into the mix. You’ll end up with a refreshing sweet and sour drink that’s (almost!) as good as the real thing. 

The most important thing to remember when making a mocktail margarita is that you need to keep the tart citrus (with a slight hint of orange) and the sweetness as balanced as possible.

The Salted Rim

Two salt rimmed margarita glasses with a slice of dried lime as garnish on a table next to a bowl of jalapenos.

Perhaps as iconic as the drink itself is, a salted rim is classic and delicious. 

While many cocktails are served with a garnish, margaritas are often served with a salted rim. This enhances the drink’s flavors by balancing the sweetness and acidity of the margarita with the savory touch of salt (we like using the Jose Cuervo margarita salt).

While I prefer only one small section of my margarita glass to have salt, salt on the rim is a hallmark of a classic margarita cocktail. 

Related: How to Salt a Margarita Glass Rim Properly

But just because plain salt is classic doesn’t mean you can’t put a twist on the rim! We love to use Tajin (a mix of red chilies, salt and lime, to rim a glass. it pairs really well with cucumber margaritas!

You can also use sugar (plain or flavored) on our drinks since it ramps up the flavors of specialty margaritas even more! Whether you go for a salt, sugar, or a Tajim rim, using a salt rimming plate will always come in handy.

Related: Margarita Sugar Rim with Basil Recipe

Margarita Glasses

A margarita glass is easily recognizable. It looks like a small curved bowl with a wide rim balanced on top of a thin stem and a small base. This design ensures that sippers enjoy the enticing aroma of the drink while also savoring its coated rim.

Lore has it that margarita glasses originated at a bar in LA when an order of coupe glasses showed up with a little extra shape at the stem. They decided to use them for margaritas and the rest is history.

We love to serve our margaritas out of a traditional margarita glass. But there are so many varieties to choose from now, you really can find a margarita glass to suit any personal style. And of course, you can drink a margarita out of a regular glass too.

Our top margarita glass picks:

How to Hold a Margarita Glass

To get the best drinking experience from drinking a margarita, hold the stem of the glass using your thumb and index finger. 

By keeping your hands off the bowl, you won’t end up warming your drink too quickly. This is particularly true when you’re enjoying a frozen margarita or margarita on the rocks; you won’t want to drink something diluted with melted ice. And you also won’t freeze your hand.

This isn’t always possible as the glasses tend to be made of thick glass and are too heavy to hold with just two fingers. In our opinion, there is no wrong way to hold a margarita glass.


  • If making fruity margaritas, using fresh or frozen fruits as an ingredient can give you the best result.
  • To make a frozen margarita, use a blender. This will ensure that your drink turns out delightfully slushy. 
  • If you’re not a fan of overly sweet margaritas, make a skinny margarita instead! It has fewer calories than the regular kind but is still super refreshing. 
  • Feel free to adjust the amount of alcohol you put in your homemade margaritas. While we use 2 ounces of tequila, you can use less! Typically a margarita has between 1-2 ounces of tequila. But you can do half an ounce if that sounds good to you.
  • To make your drink spicy, muddle one or two slices of jalapeño or serrano peppers before adding the rest of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. You’ll end up with a margarita that has a nice kick to it.
  • Want a smoky margarita? Use mezcal instead of tequila.

Pairing Margaritas with Food

Margaritas can go well with basically anything. But we particularly enjoy pairing this tequila cocktail with the following:

  • Mexican food: you can’t go wrong with a margarita paired with tacos, enchiladas, etc.
  • Bar food: Margaritas are delicious with chips and salsa (and guacamole too, duh), nachos, chicken wings, etc. The acidic lime juice helps to cut through anything a little fatty and with spice. Plus we know a margarita is great with salt so salty snacks make so much sense.
  • Salads: A watermelon salad is super refreshing and would pair delightfully with a margarita. Essentially any flavor you can make into a margarita can be a salad ingredient as well.
  • Seafood: The lime flavor is a great partner to fresh seafood especially if they are cooked in a citrus marinade or finished with a squeeze of lemon.
  • Grilled foods: The refreshing citrus flavor of a margarita is also a wonderful treat with smokey grilled meats and vegetables.

Hosting a Margarita Party

So you’ve perfected the art of making delicious margaritas, and now, you’re excited to enjoy your creations with family and friends. I don’t know about you, but that’s a great excuse to throw a margarita party!

As with any gathering, you have to decide on the essentials for a margarita party: who to invite, what to serve in terms of food and drinks (just classic or a variety of flavored margaritas), and how to set the mood and decorate your place to make the celebration more fun and memorable.    

For example, if you’re hosting a Cinco de Mayo party, then you will need to put up Cinco de Mayo decorations (we have free printable Cinco de Mayo decorations!), serve delicious Mexican food, and offer delicious margaritas (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to guests.  

The same idea applies to other parties you may want to throw. Holidays, birthday bashes, and bridal showers are all great opportunities to sip margaritas with friends and family!

We’re always building out the site so be sure to head back here for more margarita party ideas.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is margarita in English?

The Spanish word ‘margarita’ means ‘daisy’ in English.

What do you say when ordering a Margarita? 

If you’re unsure of how to order margaritas at bars and restaurants, here are some good things to mention to your server: 

– If you want the rim salted or not.
– If you want it blended with ice or served on the rocks (which means over ice).
– Specify the tequila you want, like blanco tequila or reposado and if there is a specific brand you like.
– If you want a “float” of Grand Marnier.
– Let them know if you want it skinny.

Can a margarita get you drunk?

It depends. If you’re a casual sipper, one margarita may be enough to get you drunk. However, if you’re a seasoned drinker, it might take you more than that to get tipsy. Generally, it will depend on the alcohol content of your margarita and your alcohol tolerance. As always, please drink responsibly.

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