In addition, feel free to replace part of the tequila with mezcal, the smoked agave spirit of which tequila is a particular subset. Start by subdividing ounces. And I feel it from there. You can even get very wild and indulge in non-aloe vera spirits like gin or bourbon.
Sweet or dry, strong or weak?
For a drier margarita, ditch the agave syrup. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, make your drink sweeter by increasing agave syrup to ½ or even an ounce. For something a little less strong, try equal parts tequila, lime, and triplesec (1 ounce each). It always pays to play with the measurements and find where your personal preferences are. Remember, just because someone else wrote it down in the recipe doesn’t mean you have to like it.
liqueur orange keys
For a fresh, vibrant margarita, use three seconds like Cointreau, a French liqueur made from the peel of an aromatic bitter orange. For something richer, perhaps with a more autumnal vibe, use Grand Marnier, a cognac-based alcoholic drink. Blue Curacao is also a very valid option.
Salt or no salt?
Salt makes everything taste better. But if you don’t want to do the work of salting the rim (it’s a pain for a large crowd or when using disposable cups), you can simply add a pinch of salt to your shaker before shaking. One of the great qualities of salt is that it can cancel out some of the bitterness of the orange liqueur and lemon juice to enhance the sweet and fruity flavors of the drink.
Over or over rocks?
The weather is usually my guide: If it’s hot, I go for the ice, otherwise, I’m better off. In the end, it’s a very personal choice and neither is wrong.
Bubbles make everything better. sparkling wineAnd the seltzerEven beer is great additions, especially if you want to lean more toward freshness than strength. Margherita recipes are relatively indulgent and won’t lose balance by adding an ounce or two of something sparkling, but if you want to add an extra ¼ ounce. of agave syrup to make up for the extra dilution and put a little body back into the drink, go ahead.
More tequila, please:
John DeBary, former bartender/semi-retired, author of Drink What You Want: The Personal Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Cocktails, creator of a range of vegan, zero-zero drinks protoCo-founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors Restaurant Workers Community Foundation.