The Fastest Way To Make A Homemade Margarita Taste Expensive

It doesn't take many ingredients to make a margarita, which is why the quality of those ingredients is essential. The shorter a cocktail's ingredient list is, the less distractions are available to hide subpar products, so forget the cheap margarita mixes from the grocery store and follow an expert's recommendations for a homemade margarita that tastes expensive. 

Food Republic spoke to Jessica King, the co-owner and operator of Brother Wolf and Osteria Stella in Knoxville, Tennessee, to learn how to easily craft a version of this classic cocktail that will transport you to a sun-soaked beach vacation at happy hour. According to King, success starts with splurging on the "good stuff." King suggests using an aged tequila, like "a reposado or añejo," instead of a less expensive silver variety. Reposado tequila is barrel-aged for at least two months and up to year. Añejo tequilas must be aged for at least one year, but no more than three. Both types will pick up notes from the oak barrels they age in, such as flavors of vanilla, fruit, and spices, but an añejo will be more complex, since it has more time to develop. 

Instead of plain simple syrup in your margarita, King also suggests using "a quality orange liqueur, such as Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curaçao or the more traditional Grand Marnier." Finish the drink with fresh lime juice to keep it classic, or experiment with additional flavors to make it your own.

Take a classic margarita to new heights

At Brother Wolf, Jessica King likes to experience with untraditional additions to a margarita. She loves mixing "Corralejo Reposado with Aperol, fresh lime juice, a touch of orange, and Spicewalla Calabrian chili powder to layer sweet, bitter, sour, and heat." The restaurant also features a hybrid of an Italian negroni and a margarita called the Oaxacan Negroni, made with Sombra mezcal, Aperol, and Contratto Rosso. The latter ingredient is a red vermouth containing 31 herbal extracts, including hibiscus, ginger, and clove.

If you're just testing the margarita waters, a single ingredient can instantly create a fresh take on the drink. Try adding pickle juice to a regular or spicy margarita to amplify the salty element found in the cocktail's salted rim. Or, complement the smokiness of mezcal with grilled fruit. Stick with the standard limes, or introduce a sweeter element with grilled pineapple or grapefruit slices.

Once you have a nice reposado or añejo tequila, you may wonder about their uses beyond margaritas. If a cocktail has intense flavors and/or a spicy element, use a reposado for a brighter drink. An añejo is ideal for simple, slow-sipping beverages where you can appreciate its depth of flavor. Treat an añejo like an expensive Scotch or bourbon, and keep it simple. Tequila gets pricier the longer it ages, so you'll want to use longer-aged varieties with care, making sure not to cover them up.