Add A Splash Of Orange Juice To Margaritas For A Refreshing Upgrade

Gone are the days when we relied on store-bought mixes and sweetened liqueurs to craft homemade cocktails. Classic drinks have received a much-needed makeover, turning favorites like margaritas into brighter, more sophisticated versions. For your next margarita, try adding a splash of orange juice for a refreshing upgrade on the OG.

Although there are many variations, a classic margarita is made with tequila, lime juice, and an orange-flavored liqueur like Triple Sec. While there was a time when lime juice poured from a green bottle was commonplace, we now know it's well worth the effort to squeeze it fresh. The same is true for a margarita's orange flavoring — you can go au natural with it as well.

Typically, orange-flavored liqueur is made by steeping peels in a neutral spirit like vodka and then blending it with water and a sweetener like beet sugar or sugar cane. There is an expansive selection of brands on the market, ranging in sweetness and alcohol content. Although the liqueur provides a strong orange flavor, it pigeonholes you into a certain level of sweetness and prevents you from customizing the cocktail.

Instead of using a liqueur, though, you can customize the sweetness in your marg by adding a squeeze of fresh orange juice to equal parts tequila and lime juice. If you need to adjust the cocktail's sweetness further, add in agave or use a simple syrup

Additional ways to upgrade a margarita

Whether you prefer them frozen or on the rocks, margaritas are simple to upgrade since they traditionally have just three ingredients. For starters, try using a different type of orange. The citrus offerings range from sour Seville oranges and kumquats to very sweet Cara Cara oranges and tangerines, enabling you to customize your drink's sweetness. To give your margarita a beautiful blush hue, you could even juice blood oranges and garnish the glass with a wheel of the crimson-colored fruit.

Even when Ina Garten mixes a pitcher of margaritas, she upgrades the cocktail by changing two things. First she adds another layer of flavor by including the juice of one lemon, roughly 2 tablespoons. (Not surprisingly, author and leading bar professional Tony Abou-Ganim also suggests adding lemon juice to margaritas.) Garten then dresses up her fresh-tasting version by serving it in a salt-rimmed martini glass.  

For a robust, smokey element, you can also try adding charred fruit or herbs to the drink. This method works well with fibrous fruits like pineapple and citrus and woodsy herbs like rosemary. Simply hold the item over a flame with metal tongs for a few seconds until it smokes. This fragrant upgrade allows you to enjoy the cocktail before it touches your lips. But, please note that it's critical to use fresh and not dried rosemary so the leaves don't ignite.