This simple 321 margarita recipe is one everyone should have in their repertoire - it's almost as easy to make as it is to memorize! You'll only need three ingredients to make this classic Mexican cocktail; together they make the perfect ratio for a drink that's strong, pleasantly tart, and extremely refreshing. Like your margaritas spicy? Add jalapeño for an extra kick!
When it comes to recipes, the word "perfect" isn't one I throw out lightly. But this, my friends, is the perfect margarita: smooth, cool and crisp; more tart than sweet; and oh-so-fresh (since it's made from scratch). It's served on the rocks with salt - as a proper margarita should be - and you can easily add jalapeño to give it a spicy twist. In short, it's a classic done right.
321: The perfect margarita recipe ratio
Now, I'll let you in on a little secret: you only need 3 ingredients to make the ultimate margarita.
- 3 ounces of tequila
- 2 ounces of lime juice
- 1 ounce of simple syrup
...Hence the name, "321 margarita". It's strong, it's refreshing, it's easy to mix up, and it's simple enough to memorize by heart.
What you'll need
We've covered the basics, but let's get into them in a little more depth:
- The liquor - Tequila: A great margarita is made with a great tequila (or at least a pretty good one), and that's especially true when it makes up 50% of your drink. I prefer blanco, since it tends to have a cleaner flavor that plays nicely with the other ingredients in this cocktail, but reposado will work too. Whichever you use, look for one made with 100% agave, or "puro agave", so you know you're getting the real deal.
- The citrus - Fresh lime juice: Don't buy it bottled, and don't even think about using a mix. Remember, there are only 3 ingredients in a 321 margarita, so you want the freshest, juiciest limes you can get. (The same goes for my coconut margaritas - and all of my cocktail recipes!)
- The sweetener - Simple syrup: You can make simple syrup or buy it, but in any case it should be made with water, cane sugar, and nothing else. You can also use light agave nectar instead; this will change the cocktail's flavor profile slightly, but it's an easy swap that works well for both margaritas and mojitos. You'll notice that I don't use Cointreau (or any other triple sec) in these margaritas. I personally feel that the orange flavor ruins the purity of the drink, so although they're commonly included, my version of a perfect marg omits them.
- The kick of heat. - Jalapeño slices: If you like your margaritas spicy, add this!
- The extras - Kosher salt (for the rim) and ice.
One of the best things about this recipe is it doesn't require any fancy bar tools. But if you consider yourself something of a home bartender, a few gadgets will always come in handy.
- Double jigger - For easy measurements
- Cocktail shaker - For mixing. You can even get a shaker with a built-in strainer and jigger.
- Citrus juicer - It may seem frivolous, but in the long run it'll save you money by making your citrus stretch further! It'll also come in handy for Moscow mules, mojitos, and so many other classic cocktails.
- Cocktail strainer - Very useful for straining out muddled jalapeño slices if you decide to make your marg a spicy one.
- Cocktail muddler - Another must-have if adding jalapeño. Muddling brings out the heat of the peppers in a way that throwing fresh slices into your drink will never do!
- Salt rimmer - This one's absolutely not necessary, but it does make exceptionally quick work of salting your glass rims.
How to mix homemade margaritas
We've got what we need; now it's time to DIY some margs! Note: Below are instructions for a basic 321 margarita, but we'll cover a spicy version shortly.
Step one - Mix. Combine the tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup in a glass or cocktail shaker. Add ice and stir - or shake - until the mixture is well-chilled.
Step two - Prep serving glass(es): Use a squeezed lime wedge to wet the rim of your glass. Tilt the glass horizontally and sprinkle salt along the outer edge while rotating, until the entire rim is sufficiently salted. (Or use the aforementioned salt rimmer).
Step three - Pour: Pour (and optionally strain) the mixture into your serving glass. (In the case of a shaken cocktail, I prefer to strain it and start with fresh ice in my glass.) Garnish it with a lime wedge if you're feeling fancy!
For spicy jalapeño margaritas
To turn this recipe into THE BEST spicy margarita, just muddle fresh jalapeño slices with your lime juice before mixing the rest of the ingredients. For more heat, aim to use about ¼ of a jalapeño per margarita. For less heat, start with about an ⅛th. Remember - when you muddle, the goal is to crush the jalapeño (and particularly the seeds) to release flavor and heat into your drink.
I usually add just a tad more simple syrup to my jalapeño margaritas to nail that spicy-sweet balance (about 1 ⅛ ounces per cocktail), and I always strain them before serving. You can even switch things up with a Tajin or chili salt rim for an extra kick.
Margarita for one
This recipe as written will make just enough for a single-serving, and it's easy to remember the amounts you'll need for each ingredient using the 3-2-1 trick. But of course, you can always double the recipe (or triple, or quadruple!) for those times when one margarita just won't cut it.
Make it a pitcher!
To make an entire pitcher of margaritas, just scale this recipe as needed. Example: For a basic 60-ounce pitcher, you'll need 30 ounces of tequila, 20 ounces of lime juice, and 10 ounces of simple syrup. For the sake of efficiency, keep things simple by mixing it straight in the pitcher.
The basic formula is equal parts sugar and water (e.g. 1 cup of sugar + 1 cup of water); that's all you need to know. Combine them in a microwave-safe measuring glass and microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. You can also do this in a saucepan on the stove, using medium-low heat.
Serve this with...
More cocktail recipes
Simple 321 Margarita (with a spicy option!)
A margarita recipe that's as easy to make (and remember) as counting to 3. This drink packs a punch and plenty of tart lime flavor. Add jalapeño to make it a spicy margarita!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 margarita 1x
- Category: beverages
- Method: stir/shake
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 3 ounces 100% agave tequila, such as blanco or reposado
- 2 ounces freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 1 - 1 ⅛ ounces simple syrup, to taste*
- jalapeno slices (optional, for spicy variation**)
- kosher salt (optional, for glass rims )
- lime wedge (optional, for garnish)
- Mix: Combine tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup in a glass or cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir or shake for about 30 seconds, or until well mixed and chilled.
- Prep glass: Use a juiced lime wedge to coat the rim of a clean serving glass with lime juice. Holding glass horizontally, sprinkle with salt while rotating to coat the outer rim. Add ice to glass.
- Pour: Pour (or preferably strain) margarita into glass and garnish with a wedge of lime if desired. Serve immediately.
*To make simple syrup: Stir together 1 cup of water with 1 cup of granulated sugar in a microwave-safe measuring glass and microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. You can also do this in a saucepan on the stove, using medium-low heat.
**To make a spicy margarita: Muddle jalapeño slices with lime juice before adding tequila and simple syrup. Use about ⅛th of a jalapeño for a mild margarita, or ¼ for a spicier margarita. Add a Tajín or chili salt rim for an extra kick of heat!
For pitcher margaritas: Scale this recipe to accommodate the size of your pitcher. A basic 60-ounce pitcher will use 30 ounces of tequila, 20 ounces of lime juice, and 10 ounces of simple syrup.
This 321 margarita recipe first appeared on Bright-Eyed Baker in 2014. Updates include new images and text, as well as some slight modifications to the original recipe, including a new spicy variation.