A Cadillac Margarita takes the classic tequila cocktail to the next level! The recipe is easy, and you’ll save a small fortune making this drink at home rather than paying top dollar at restaurants.
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Over the years, my husband Jason and I were able to test many of Southern California’s so-called best margarita to come up with this recipe. Once you try this grand Cadillac version, there’s no looking back. Now we can shake up a glass right at home and make multiple servings without the restaurant price.
The base of the recipe remains the same – lime juice, a high-quality tequila, and Cointreau. To balance the tanginess, I add a mixture of sweeteners. And just like at popular Mexican restaurants, I serve the margarita with a float of Grand Marnier in a shot glass on the side. Pour it on top, take a sip, and enjoy.
The choice of tequila comes down to personal preference and budget. Still, the most common options are silver or reposado for their versatility that lends well to mixing with other premium ingredients. I prefer reposado for its flavor that infuses into the tequila during the aging process. I find it delivers more exciting notes and adds a caramel-like color to the cocktail.
Each top-shelf tequila brand differs in taste, so the fun part is trying different types to discover your preference. Jason and I often use Frida Kahlo tequila reposado. It has a smooth finish with aromatics of warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and white pepper. Alternatively, Casamigos makes a smooth tequila as well.
Always use fresh lime juice
It’s easy to grab a big bottle of premade sour mix. But, the overly tangy and gritty liquid does not match up to the superior taste of freshly squeezed lime juice. All you need is one big juicy lime for a single 6-ounce cocktail serving. Fresh limes also add a pleasant aroma from the zest. If desired, you can finely grate the peel and toss it in the rimming salt to infuse some essential oils from the citrus.
Citrus liqueurs add complexity
There are two types of citrus liqueurs in the Cadillac margarita to add a fruity dimension and a hint of sweetness. Cointreau is a triple-sec style of orange liqueur made from sugar beet alcohol infused with bitter and sweet orange peels for a crisp and smooth flavor. It’s clear in color, 40% ABV, but it adds a refined taste to the margarita.
As a fancy float to top each glass, I pour a small amount of Grand Marnier on top right before serving. Its deep caramel color comes from distilling the Cognac with bitter orange essence and sugar. Restaurant waiters typically pour the Grand Marnier tableside to build anticipation before sipping. If making a large batch, feel free to mix all of the ingredients at the same time.
Use two types of sweeteners
To balance the acidity of the lime juice, add a small amount of sweetener. I use a blend of simple syrup for a straightforward sugar flavor and agave syrup. The agave is golden in color with caramel notes and complements the tequila since they derive from the same plant origin. Adjust the sweetener level to your liking.
Essential bar tools
You need a few essential tools to make the margarita. I use a steel cocktail shaker for quickly mixing the ingredients. Mine has a jigger cap for measuring, and it has a built-in strainer on top for easy pouring. You can also purchase a jigger separately that provides additional measurement options.
This recipe makes a 6-ounce serving, so use a 10-ounce glass or 24-ounce size if making a double. A round glass with straight sides or classic margarita glasses is ideal. A glass rimmer works well for salting, and it includes a sponge to apply the rim liquid.
Wet the rim of the glass
Use a lime wedge to rub the juice on the rim of the glass. This process helps the salt adhere to the moistened surface. You can also use orange, pineapple, or water. If possible, it’s nice to have the flavor of the rim complement the taste of the cocktail.
You can also place some liquid in a shallow bowl, invert the glass and dip it about ¼-inch. If making many drinks, restaurants use a glass rimmer with a compartment for a sponge to apply the liquid.
There are two ways to salt the rim of a glass; #1) roll the edges, or #2) dip straight in. To avoid getting salt in the drink, use the rolling method. Place the salt on a plate, about ¼-inch deep. Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle and roll it until some is sticking around the entire rim. You won’t have a perfect line, but it prevents a salty drink.
Alternatively, dip the rim straight down into the salt. You’ll have a thin, evenly coated edge for those who don’t mind a little going into the glass. I like to rim the glasses first thing so that the salt dries and adheres better. You can chill or freeze the glass to keep the drink nice and cold.
Rim salt and flavors
Some tequila companies make their own glass rimmers using margarita salt, and they come in a variety of flavors. Alternatively, you can use kosher salt like Diamond Crystal or sea salt. To customize the flavor at home, mix the salt with lemon, lime, or orange zest. Even Tajin works well for a spicy and tangy taste. Some even use sugar, but that’s not as common for margaritas.
Mixing the cocktail
First, fill the shaker about half full with ice. This step keeps the ingredients cold, helps mix and dissolve the sweeteners, and adds a slight frothiness if shaken vigorously. Then add the tequila, lime juice, agave syrup, simple syrup, and Cointreau. Shake it for 15 seconds.
Fill your serving glass with a few ice cubes, then pour the shaker liquid in. Add the Grand Marnier on top last for a pleasant orange aroma that gradually infuses down into the drink.
Serve this with
There are different types of tequila
Silver or Blanco is unaged and clean in taste. Look for 100% agave for the highest quality in flavor. Joven is a blend primarily of Silver with a small amount of aged tequila for a deeper flavor but still light in taste. Reposado is aged for at least 2 to 12 months in oak barrels for more flavor dimension. For a heartier, smokey note, try mezcal. Anejo is aged over 12 months or longer, or extra Anejo at least three years, but their robust taste is better for sipping on its own.
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- lime wedges, for the rim and garnish
- ¼ cup margarita salt, or kosher salt, for the rim
- ice cubes, for shaker and serving glass
- 1 ½ ounces reposado tequila, or Silver
- 1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- ½ ounce agave syrup
- ¼ ounce simple syrup
- ½ ounce Cointreau
- ½ ounce Grand Marnier
Rim the Glass
- Place a lime wedge on the rim of the glass. Move it around the entire edge, lightly squeezing to create a thin film of liquid. Alternatively, dip the edge of the glass straight down into a shallow bowl with lime juice or water, about ¼-inch.
- Add salt to a small plate. Place the rim of the glass at a 45-degree angle, press, and roll until there is salt adhering to the outside edge. Alternatively, dip the rim straight down into the salt, about ¼-inch.
- Allow the salted rim to dry while making the rest of the margarita so it adheres to the glass better. If desired, place it in the refrigerator or freezer to chill the glass.
Mix the Drink
- Fill the cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes, about 1 cup.
- Add tequila, lime juice, agave syrup, simple syrup, and Cointreau. Place the cover on top and vigorously shake for 15 seconds.
- Fill the serving glass halfway with ice cubes. Pour the margarita mixture over the ice. Slowly pour the Grand Marnier on top. Serve immediately.
- Recipe Yield: 6-ounce margarita (one serving)
- Glass Size: Use a 10-ounce glass for a single serving, or a 24-ounce glass for a double serving.
- Rim Options: Use water, lime, orange, lemon, or pineapple pieces or juice for the rim. Mix some lime, lemon, or orange zest into the salt. Add some Tajin for a spicy and tangy flavor. Use granulated sugar instead of salt for a sweetened rim.
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