The Best Fresh Margaritas
Published July2000, Cooks Illustrated



The best margarita recipe would produce a drink with a balanced blend of fresh citrus flavors and tequila. We discovered the correct proportions (equal parts juice, orange liqueur, and tequila) for the best balance. The right alcohol (Triple Sec and a resposado tequila, made from 100 percent blue agave) gave our margarita recipe a mellow, delicate flavor. And the best citrus mix (lemon and lime zest steeped in their juices) gave it a deep, refreshing citrus flavor.


4 teaspoons grated lime zest

cup lime juice from 2 to 3 medium limes

4 teaspoons grated lemon zest

cup lemon juice from 2 to 3 medium lemons

cup superfine sugar

pinch table salt

2 cups crushed ice

1 cup 100 percent agave tequila, preferably Reposado

1 cup Triple Sec


The longer the zest and juice mixture is allowed to steep, the more developed the citrus flavors in the finished margaritas. We recommend steeping for the full 24 hours, although the margaritas will still be great if the mixture is steeped only for the minimum 4 hours. If you're in a rush and need to serve margaritas immediately, omit the zest and skip the steeping process altogether.

1.      Combine lime zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and salt in large liquid measuring cup; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until flavors meld, 4 to 24 hours.

2.      Divide 1 cup crushed ice between 4 or 6 margarita or double old-fashioned glasses. Strain juice mixture into 1-quart pitcher or cocktail shaker. Add tequila, Triple Sec, and remaining crushed ice; stir or shake until thoroughly combined and chilled, 20 to 60 seconds. Strain into ice-filled glasses; serve immediately



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