A basic margarita is simple and easy to replicate, says Derrick Turner, brand advocate for 1800 Tequila. There are endless possibilities when it comes to margarita variations, but the basic recipe is simple: tequila, lime juice, something orange flavored (alcohol, juice, or bitters), and a sweetener.
No matter your taste, you can definitely find (or create) your ideal drink. When you do, make sure to follow Turner’s four tips for a delicious margarita every time:
1. Use agave syrup or fruit in place of sour mix
Typical sour mixes are laden with calories. Agave nectar is natural and causes much less of a spike in blood sugar, so it’s better for your body. To make your own agave simple syrup, boil equal portions of agave nectar and water (letting the mixture cool before use).
2. Keep it fresh
“The fresher and higher quality of your ingredients, the better your drink will taste,” says Turner.
3. Pick your favorite orange
Orange liqueurs like triple sec, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier are interchangeable, so use whichever you like best. The key differences: Triple sec is lower proof (23%) and has a milder flavor. Grand Marnier and Cointreau are 40 proof. Cointreau is more bitter, while Grand Marnier has added cognac for a slightly earthier flavor.
4. Don’t be afraid to experiment
“When I’m trying to decide what goes with what, I always look at the spirit’s color,” Turner says. “Then I match it with ingredients that vary from mild to robust. If I’m using 1800 Silver [a blanco tequila], I’ll stick with melons, herbs, and light cordials. For aged reposados, berries and heavier citrus flavors pair better. And for añejos, I’ll use coffees, figs, apples, and sweet vermouths. Of course, you’ll need to try the combinations out. But that’s the fun of it all.”