Celebrate National Margarita Day With 12 Killer Cocktails

Wastin' away never tasted so good.
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Wastin' away never tasted so good.
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The margarita can be fresh and delicious or neon-colored and saccharine – it all depends on how you make it. From the dozen or so margaritas on the menu at Chili’s, to the refined versions found at bars and restaurants around the country, this classic Mexican cocktail can be constructed in a myriad of ways. 

“The margarita is America’s favorite cocktail, and it’s no surprise why—at its simplest, it is a three ingredient drink that is almost impossibly easy to make,” says David Alan, manager of trade education & mixology for Patron. “It is made correctly when it is balanced to your taste.”

The roots are a bit obscure, with some pointing to a Mexican bartender or Dallas society maven in the 1940s as the source. Jose Cuervo claims that the drink was invented in 1938 as a tribute to a Mexican showgirl. 

Whatever the origins, the basic ingredients are pretty simple – good tequila (100 percent agave, don’t even think about using a sugary mixto blend), triple sec (or Cointreau, Grand Marnier, dry curacao, depending on how fancy you want to get), and fresh lime juice. Combine, shake, and feel free to heavily salt your glass rim. Of course, you can veer wildly off course by using different fruit and spices, or even employing mezcal or sherry in the mix.

February 22 is National Margarita Day, so here are ten margarita recipes that deviate from the classic but are easy enough to make at home.

Ron Cooper Margarita

Available at China Poblano by Jose Andres at The Cosmopolitan In Las Vegas - Created by Ron Cooper

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  • 1.5 oz. tequila blanco
  • .75 oz. good quality triple sec
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • .5 oz. mezcal blanco

Rim glass with sal de gusano. Place tequila, triple sec and lime in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for ten seconds, then strain over fresh ice into rimmed glass. Garnish with lime wheel. Serve mezcal on the side or float on top of margarita.

Spanish Margarita

Available at Bulla Gastrobar in Coral Gables and Doral, Florida - Created by Joel Mesa, beverage manager for Centurion Restaurant Group

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  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
  • 3/4 oz. Napoleon Amontillado
  • 1.5 oz. El Jimador Reposado Tequila

In shaker over ice, pour all liquid ingredients and shake well. Strain and pour over fresh ice in glass. Garnish with skewered lime wheel.

Black Salt Margarita

Dobel Black Diamond Margarita Image
  • 2 parts Maestro Dobel Diamante 
  • ½ part agave syrup 
  • ½ part fresh lime 

Rim old fashioned glass with black salt . In cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients . Add ice and shake . Strain over fresh ice in a salt-rimmed glass.

Superita Margarita

Available at Superica in Atlanta, GA - Created by beverage director Eduardo Porto Carreiro, Ford Fry Restaurants

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  • 1 ½ oz. Herradura Double Reposado
  • 1 oz. Combier
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ½ oz. orange juice
  • Dash of olive brine

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Shake well with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with citrus-marinated olive.

Citrus-marinated olives: Drain olive brine from olive jar and reserve for drink use. Zest 2 lemons, 2 limes and 2 oranges. Marinate olives in mixture

The Cowboy 

Created by 1800 Tequila and Derrick Turner

  • 2 oz. 1800® Silver 
  • 1 oz. lime juice 
  • ½ oz. agave syrup 
  • Cholula Hot Sauce
  • Brown sugar  

Add Cholula on one plate, and brown sugar on another. Dip a rocks glass into the sauce, then dip it into the brown sugar. Combine all ingredients in a shaker, shake and strain into salted rocks glass. Garnish with lime twist.

Mezcal Margarita

Available at La Loncheria in NYC - Created by Oscar León Bernal, La Loncheria

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  • 1.5 oz. Pelotón de la Muerte mezcal
  • .75 oz. fresh lime juice
  • .5. oz. triple sec
  • .5 oz. simple syrup
  • Chili salt

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake then strain into chili salt-rimmed rocks glass.

Spicy Strawberry Margarita

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  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 2 oz. blanco tequila
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 2 strawberries
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters

Muddle the strawberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add Cointreau, tequila, fresh lime juice and bitters, and shake with ice. Strain over ice in a rocks glass with a cinnamon sugar rim and garnish with a strawberry.

Blueberry Rosa Margarita

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  • 2 oz. Código 1530 Rosa Tequila
  • 1 oz .Grenadine
  • .5 oz .Cointreau
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • Blueberries & mint

Muddle blueberries and mint in a rocks glass. In a shaker filled with ice, add tequila, Grenadine, Cointreau and lime juice. Shake and strain over ice. Garnish with mint leaf.

Aloe/Coconut Margarita

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  • 1.5 oz. Tequila Avión Silver 
  • ½ oz. aloe vera liqueur 
  • ¾ oz. coconut water 
  • ¾ oz. lime juice 
  • ¼ oz. agave nectar 

Fill shaker with ice. Measure and pour all ingredients into the shaker. Shake well, and pour entire contents of shaker into the glass.

Mediterranean Margarita

Created by Yanaida Prado, Spain

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  • 2 oz. Patrón Reposado
  • .75 oz. Patrón Citrónge Orange 
  • 1.5 oz. amontillado sherry
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • .5 oz. agave nectar 
  • 1 barspoon orange marmalade
  • Chamoy/Tajín rim (optional)
  • Lime peel for garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in cocktail shaker and shake with ice to chill. Strain into a Chamoy/Tajín-rimmed coupe glass. Garnish with a lime peel.

Chamoy/Tajin rim: If available, use the Mexican condiment Chamoy to moisten the rim of your glass, roll in Tajín to coat lightly. Alternately, use citrus juice and any chili-salt combo to create a similar effect.

Hell on Wheels 

Available at Boticarios in New York City - Created by Miguel Aranda

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  • 2 oz. Sombra Mezcal
  • .5 oz. ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto
  • .33 oz. fresh lime juice
  • .5 oz. agave syrup
  • Several dashes habanero tincture

Place all the ingredients into a shaker, add ice and shake well. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a habanero pepper.   

Smoke and Fire

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  • ¾ oz. Montelobos Mezcal 
  • ¾ oz. Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur 
  • ¾ oz. Milagro Silver Tequila 
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice 
  • ½ oz. agave nectar 

Using a lime wedge, wet the rim of an old fashioned glass, salt it, and set aside.

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake, and double strain over fresh ice into the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.