Classic Margarita on the Rocks

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This classic Margarita on the rocks is a refreshing tequila cocktail served over ice. It’s beloved for it’s balance of tang and tartness from key lime juice, sweetness from triple sec and simple syrup, and the bold flavor of tequila – all complemented by the chill of the ice.

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Best classic Margarita on the rocks in a salt-rimmed glass garnished with wheels of lime.

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👩🏻‍🍳 Why This Recipe’s a Keeper

  • It’s the real deal. This recipe comes to you directly from Mexico, where I live half the year at the beach next to a line of all-inclusive resorts. Now you can enjoy the authentic flavor of this Mexican cocktail at home.
  • Balanced flavor profile. The combination of tequila, lime juice, triple sec, and simple syrup creates a perfectly-balanced, classic Margarita on the rocks with the right blend of sweetness, tartness, and citrus flavors.
  • Fabulously refreshing. This thirst-quenching cocktail is an excellent drink to enjoy on a hot day or when served with a meal. It always satisfies.
  • Super easy to make. Despite its sophisticated flavor profile, this classic Margarita is very easy to prepare with just a few simple ingredients. And it will taste just like it came from all-inclusive resort or a Mexican cantina.
An authentic Mexican Margarita on the rocks.

🛒 Ingredients

For Classic Margarita

  • Tequila: Tequila is the primary spirit in a Margarita and provides the base alcohol flavor. I highly recommend Hornitos Reposado for this classic Margarita, as it adds depth with its oak-barrel aging, lending hints of vanilla and caramel notes to the drink.
  • Triple Sec: An orange-flavored liqueur that adds sweetness and balances the tartness of the lime juice. It also contributes a subtle citrus aroma and flavor to the cocktail.
  • Key Lime Juice: The acidic component of the Margarita, providing the tart and tangy flavor profile characteristic of this cocktail. It adds brightness and freshness to the drink. Key limes are smaller, rounder and more aromatic than regular limes. They have a slightly sweeter and more intense flavor. If key limes are not in season, use “Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice” – the next best thing to freshly-squeezed lime juice. In the states, you can find this product at most large grocery stores and at Walmart.
  • Simple Syrup: A mixture of equal parts sugar and water that’s been dissolved together. It adds sweetness to the Margarita, balancing out the acidity of the lime juice and the strong flavor of the tequila. Make it at home with this easy simple syrup recipe.
  • Ice-Cold Water: We use it to slightly dilute the cocktail, helping to mellow out the flavors and ensure a smooth, refreshing drink. I use chilled bottled water, but you can use purified/filtered water from your tap – as long as it’s chilled in advance.
  • Ice: Essential for serving a classic Margarita on the rocks. It chills the drink and provides a refreshing, cooling effect. Additionally, it helps to dilute the cocktail slightly as it melts, balancing out the flavors and preventing the drink from being too strong or overpowering. I recommend cubed ice, not crushed – as crushed ice melts down more quickly.
Ingredients for crafting a classic Margarita on the rocks.

For Rimming & Garnishing

  • Key Limes: We slice a lime in half and rub it over the rim of the glass to moisten it before dipping the rim in Margarita salt. Then we slice a lime into wedges or wheels and place them on the rim of the glass and/or float them in the drink. They add visual appear to the cocktail and enhance the citrus aroma.
  • Margarita Salt: A coarse salt used to rim the edge of the Margarita glass. It adds a salty contrast to the sweet and tangy flavors of the drink. The salt also enhances the overall presentation of the cocktail, providing a decorative element to the glass. Additionally, when sipped along with the Margarita, the salt can help to accentuate the flavors of the drink and refresh the palate between sips.
A key lime Margarita on the rocks.

📖 Recipe Steps

Recipe Prep: Rim one 10-ounce cocktail glass. Cut a key lime in half. Run half of the lime around the outer rim of the glass to moisten it. Dip the wet rim into Margarita salt and set it aside. Slice the other half of the lime into wheels or wedges for garnishing.

How to rim a Margarita glass with lime juice and salt, and initial steps for making the cocktail.
  1. In a cocktail shaker or mason jar, add tequila, triple sec, key lime juice, simple syrup and ice-cold water.
  2. Add ice to the shaker. Firmly attach the lid. Shake well to combine.
  3. Pour the Margarita into the prepared glass.
  4. Garnish the rim with slices or wedges of lime. If desired, drop a few slices of lime into the Margarita glass to increase the key lime flavor.
How to make a classic Margarita on the rocks, step by step.

🍹 More Authentic Margaritas

A hand reaching for a cocktail glass filled with a classic Margarita on the rocks.

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Review from a flavor tester: “This classic Margarita on the rocks recipe is an absolute gem. With each sip, I was transported to a sunny paradise where worries melt away. Cheers to the best Margarita I’ve ever tasted!”

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The best classic Margarita on the rocks in a salt-rimmed glass garnished with wheels of lime.

Classic Margarita on the Rocks


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Description

This classic Margarita on the rocks is like sunshine in a glass. So refreshing and tasty! We blend top-quality tequila and zesty lime juice with a touch of sweetness – for the perfect balance. We serve this authentic Mexican cocktail over ice.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For Classic Margarita

  • 1 ounce Hornitos Reposado Tequila
  • 1/2 ounce triple sec
  • 1/2 ounce (freshly-squeezed) key lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 ounce ice-cold water
  • 1 cup ice

For Rimming & Garnishing

  • 1 key lime
  • Margarita salt

Instructions

Recipe Prep: Rim one 10-ounce cocktail glass. Cut a key lime in half. Run half of the lime around the outer rim of the glass to moisten it. Dip the wet rim into Margarita salt and set it aside. Slice the other half of the lime into wheels or wedges for garnishing.

  1. In a cocktail shaker or mason jar, add tequila, triple sec, key lime juice, simple syrup and ice-cold water.
  2. Add ice to the shaker. Firmly attach the lid. Shake well to combine.
  3. Pour the Margarita into the prepared glass.
  4. Garnish the rim with slices or wedges of lime. If desired, drop a few slices of lime into the Margarita glass to increase the key lime flavor. 

Notes

If key limes are not in season: Use “Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice” – the next best thing to freshly-squeezed lime juice. In the states, you can find this product at most large grocery stores and also at Walmart. Look for it in the juice section, next to the bottles of lemon juice.

  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 Minutes
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Shaking
  • Cuisine: Mexican

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