How Much Alcohol in a Margarita?

A classic margarita is a cocktail made from tequila, an orange liqueur such as Cointreau, and freshly squeezed lime juice. The quantities and quality of tequila and orange liqueur vary depending on the recipe.

Tequila and triple sec contain alcohol; the ABV % of these products and the ratio used will determine how much alcohol in a margarita.

Origin of The Margarita

origin of margarita
Image: Elias rovielo

Although many conflicting stories exist regarding where and by who the first margarita was made, it is generally accepted that it became popular during the prohibition when Americans traveled to Mexico to drink and developed a taste for tequila.

Today the margarita rates as one of the most popular cocktails worldwide.

A wide variety of Margarita recipes available can increase or reduce the alcohol content and alter the sweetness or bitterness depending on personal tastes.

To determine how much alcohol is in a margarita, we will look at the Classic margarita.

The Classic Margarita

Three ingredients are needed to make a margarita: tequila, an orange liqueur, and freshly squeezed lime juice. The quality and type of ingredients used will determine the strength and flavor of the margarita.

Tequila

margarita taquila

Tequila is produced from the fermented juices of the blue agave plant and is available in colors ranging from clear to dark amber and in various flavors. Two main types of tequila are sold, namely 100%  agave or tequila Mixtos.

Mixtos are required to be made from 51% Blue agave sugars. The other 49%  can be made from sugar, such as sugar cane or high-fructose corn syrup. A 100% Blue Weber Agave Tequila is ideal for a margarita.

Types of Tequilla

1. Silver tequila (Blanco) is produced with a short aging process making it the purest form of tequila. Silver tequila must be bottled at an alcohol content of 38-55% ABV (alcohol by volume) and is considered the best tequila for margaritas.

2. Gold tequila is a white tequila with the addition of grain alcohols and caramel flavors and colorings. Higher quality brands may offer tequila gold as a blend of silver and Resposado tequila.

3. Reposado tequila ages in oak barrels for two to twelve months, creating a darker color.

4. Anejo tequila must be aged in oak casks for between one and three years in oak barrels, while Extra Anejo is aged for three years or more.

Orange Liqueur

Orange Liqueur

Orange liqueur is a sweetened alcoholic drink with an orange flavor. The alcohol can be a column-distilled neutral spirit like vodka, or it may be pot stilled such as grape or brandy.

Types of Orange Liqueur

1. Curacao is made from pot-stilled brandy infused for flavor with the dried peel of the Curacao orange. A brand called Curacao of Curacao still traditionally produces its Curacao.

2. Triple sec originates from a French product made with less sugar than used in curacao, leading to the name sec, which means dry.

Grand Marnier and Cointreau are the two most well-known orange liqueurs. Grand Marnier, although it is a blend of cognac and triple sec and not a traditional curacao, is a similar product to the curacao.

Cointreau is a triple sec that was initially labeled as Cointreau Triple sec. The word triple sec was removed from its label to reposition itself as a brand apart from other triple sec brands, many of which are of inferior quality. Cointreau is the recommended orange liqueur for a margarita.

Classic Margarita Recipe

  • 2 ounces 100% Blue Agave Tequila. 40% ABV
  • 1-ounce orange liqueur ( Preferably Cointreau) 40% ABV
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Kosher or flake salt for the glass ( do not use iodized salt)
  • Ice cubes
  • Lime wedges for garnish

Method

  1. Salt the glass (optional) – Pour salt into a bowl. Use a wedge of lime to coat the edge of the glass and then dip the rim into the salt.
  2. Fill the glass with a few blocks of ice
  3. Place the tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake for at least 10 seconds or till chilled, and strain the contents into the prepared cocktail glass
  4. Garnish with a lime wedge

Calculating Alcohol Content of Classical Margarita

  • Two ounces of tequila at 40% ABV = 0,8 ounces of alcohol
  • One ounce of Cointreau at 40% ABV = 0.4 ounces of alcohol
  • ¾ ounces lime juice = 0.75 ounces

How much alcohol is in a Margarita?

There is, therefore, 1.2 ounces of alcohol in a classic margarita with a total volume of 3.75 ounces, equating to an alcohol content of 32% ABV. The ice’s dilution rate in the drink will reduce the alcohol’s strength to approximately 27% ABV.

When comparing this with beer and wine, we will see that margaritas are far more potent.

  • Beer – 5  12-ounce bottles at 5% ABV = 3 ounces of alcohol consumed.
  • Wine – A bottle (25.36 ounces) at 14%ABV = 3.55 ounces of alcohol
  • Margarita – 5 glasses with each glass containing 1.2 ounces = 6 ounces of alcohol

How Much Alcohol in a Margarita – FAQ’s

How much alcohol is in a Frozen Margarita?

The more alcohol you put into a frozen drink, the quicker it will melt, so bartenders recommend keeping the alcohol content of frozen drinks between 10 and 15 percent.

Can a margarita get you drunk?

A margarita is a strong alcoholic drink with a 27% ABV alcohol content. How drunk you get will depend on the number and how quickly the margaritas are consumed