I never in a million years would have thought I’d need a homemade margarita mix recipe. But, like so many things these days, a glance at the ingredients on the label made me decide to try making my own.
Water, high fructose corn syrup, wine, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate (to preserve flavor), cellulose gum, natural flavors, Polysorbate 60, and FD&C yellow 5.
Notice what’s not in there? Actual juice. So, I set out to make homemade margarita mix from scratch.
This Margarita Mix is Entirely from Scratch
In my quest for the perfect recipe, I started just as you’re doing: looking up margarita mixes in the hope of finding one I had all the ingredients for. (Spoiler alert: unless you live in a citrus orchard, there’s a shopping trip in your near future.)
Most of the ones I found started with a commercial mix then tweaked them by adding extra citrus. No thanks. Other recipes used key limes, which are beautifully tart but not available year-round. Plus, they’re pricier. So, I tinkered until I came up with my own.
Carlos “Danny” Herrera claimed to have invented the original margarita mix in 1938 for Marjorie King, a Ziegfeld showgirl. He even insisted that his obituary had to include this story. But there’s no proof to back him up.
Yes, You Need Fresh Citrus
Bottled juices are not a good substitute in my homemade margarita mix recipe. They don’t have the brightness and depth of flavor that freshly-squeezed juice does. So, break out the electric juicer or use a potato ricer, or just give it some good ol’ elbow grease. If you go with the bottled juice, don’t blame me if the result doesn’t knock your socks off.
- Juicer or citrus squeezer
- Mixing spoon
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 cups lime juice freshly-squeezed
- 1 cup lemon juice freshly-squeezed
- 1 cup orange juice freshly-squeezed (optional but adds great flavor)
Make simple syrup
- In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Make the mix
- Combine the simple syrup with the remaining ingredients. Shake or stir well. Store in a non-reactive container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or the freezer for up to 2 months.
The most likely origin of the margarita ironically has roots in Prohibition when thirsty Americans would travel to Tijuana to imbibe. A racetrack bar named Agua Caliente (translation: hot water) served a drink called the Tequila Daisy which featured tequila, citrus juice, and orange liqueur. And guess what the Spanish word for “daisy” is? Margarita.
Pair it With
What’s a cocktail without some nibbles? Here are some of my other recipes that I love making for guests when we’re sitting down to enjoy homemade margaritas.
My Margarita Recipe
Now, I know what you’re thinking: how do I turn this homemade margarita mix into an actual cocktail? Relax.
- Prep the glasses: Dip the rim of two margarita glasses in water then dip the wet rims into a bowl of margarita salt. Turn the glasses upright and hang a slice off the rim. Fill with your preferred style of margarita:
- Frozen Margarita Recipe: In a blender, combine 6 ounces of homemade margarita mix, 1 ounce of tequila, 1 tablespoon of Cointreau and 2 cups of ice.
- Margarita on the Rocks Recipe: Fill a margarita glass with ice. To a cocktail shaker, add 6 ounces of homemade margarita mix, 1 ounce of tequila, 1 tablespoon of Cointreau and 1 cup of ice. Shake vigorously for 60 seconds and strain into the glass.
So, the question is really whether you prefer your margarita frozen or on the rocks? Let me know in the comments how you like my homemade mix!