Mixing the perfect margarita cocktail: a bartender’s guide


As the sun sets on a warm summer evening, there’s nothing quite like the refreshing tang of a perfectly mixed margarita. But what makes this classic cocktail such a perennial favourite? And how can you ensure your margarita hits all the right notes? We dive into the art of margarita mixing with expert tips and insights from JJ Hendricks, SA winner of Patrón Perfectionists, a global bartending competition that gives mixologists a platform to showcase their skills and unleash their creativity with Patrón Tequila.


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Why is the margarita such a classic cocktail – where did it originate?

The margarita is such a simple and deliciously well-balanced cocktail. Because of this, the drink grew in popularity with many bars making use of this simple recipe and adding it to their menus. There are many stories of this cocktail’s origin. We can’t confirm any of the stories, but what we do know is that it originated in or around Mexico around the 1940s.

And what made it so popular last year?

With tequila rising to the number-one trending spirit category and the margarita being the most recognisable tequila cocktail, it’s understandable why it was such a hit last year. Its simplicity also lends itself to being easily accessible, which also contributes to its popularity.

Why is it important to use premium ingredients – how does the ingredient quality impact the final flavour?

In crafting the perfect margarita, quality ingredients are key. Tequila makes up half of this cocktail so use a good-quality tequila. Use freshly squeezed lime juice for vibrant citrus notes and never use store-bought lime juice. Quality ingredients guarantee a margarita that’s truly exceptional.

cocktail shaker

How do you get the delicate balance required for a perfect margarita, touching on the interplay of sweet, sour, and salty elements? Any pro tips on achieving this harmony?

The main tip that I would give is to make sure you always use equal amounts of fresh lime and triple sec. These two ingredients provide sweetness and acidity and using these ingredients in their correct proportions creates balance.

What’s the role of shaking versus stirring when making a margarita?

Stirring is not an effective method for making a margarita. Your margarita will not be as cold and the ingredients will not be properly blended because juice tends to separate in stirred cocktails. Shaking provides the perfect temperature as well as aeration, which brightens the flavour and gives a consistent mouthfeel.

Any tips for glassware dos and don’ts?

In terms of glassware, my big don’t is salting the rim by dipping it in salt. This gets salt on the inside of the glass where it can accidentally land in your drink. Rather roll the outside of the glass in salt. Another tip for glassware is to always chill your glasses before using them. You can easily do this by placing your glasses in the freezer for a few minutes.

What are some popular margarita variations and innovative twists?

I would say the most popular margarita variation is Tommy’s Margarita, which substitutes triple sec for agave syrup. Lately, I’ve been seeing many bartenders adding mezcal to their margaritas to add a smoky undertone.

What goes into selecting the right tequila for a margarita?

The main thing to look for when selecting tequila is to use a blanco (unaged) and to make sure it is 100% agave, like Patrón. If you tick those two boxes you should have a tequila that is perfect for a classic margarita.

Happy sipping!

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