How to make the Original Cadillac Margarita—a simple, 4-ingredient classic. This version leans a bit on the sweet side with Grand Marnier and agave syrup but is well balanced with lots of fresh-squeezed lime juice for (in my humble opinion) the perfect margarita. Video included!
I was well into my twenties before I stopped making margaritas with a store-bought mix and started making this Cadillac Margarita recipe.
Not that I consumed large quantities of margaritas back then. I was more of a Absolut Citron and Tonic kinda gal in college. A drink that made me feel simultaneously cosmopolitan and not nauseous.
It wasn’t until a few years post college when I was working as a chef at Mustard’s Grill in Napa Valley that I realized margaritas were little more than fresh-squeezed lime juice, great tequila, and a splash of orange liqueur.
Alas, a love was born.
It wasn’t, however, until last week when my sister was visiting and we were sipping on this here drink, that I realized amongst aaaalllllllllllllll the margarita recipes I have on this site, not one of them are for the one I actually make most often.
The one I fell in love with oh so many years ago: this Cadillac Margarita recipe.
what makes a margarita a cadillac margarita?
There’s no definitive record of who poured the first “Cadillac” Margarita, but what makes it special is that it is always made with premium ingredients.
A Cadillac is a luxury vehicle, hence a Cadillac Margarita is the top of its class as well.
There are only 4 ingredients in this cocktail, so all of them need to be the best your money can buy to make it a true Cadillac Margarita.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- The best tequila you can afford (more on this below).
- Fresh-squeezed lime juice (none of that bottled stuff please). Plus a fat lime wedge for garnish.
- A good quality triple sec. In my opinion, a Cadillac Margarita is always made with Grand Marnier.
- Agave syrup (this is optional) but I like my margaritas a bit sweet.
what type of tequila to use?
You can use a blanco or a reposado tequila but whatever you use make sure it is made from 100% Blue Weber agave.
I prefer a blanco tequila because I love its bright, grassy flavor. It is bold and stands up to the fresh lime juice and orange liqueur.
Others however insist that a more mellow reposado tequila is best. Reposado tequila has spent time aging in oak barrels which gives it more of a woody, rounder flavor.
It really depends on your preference. Either way here are some of my favorite labels:
how to make a cadillac margarita
Ingredients are important but I also believe technique has something to do with the overall success of the drink. How you layer the alcohol and juice in the shaker makes a difference, and not just in a margarita but all cocktails.
Here’s how to do it:
- Add the ice to the cocktail shaker first.
- Then the main alcohol (in this case tequila)
- Then the secondary alcohol (Grand Marnier)
- Then the syrup
- Finally the juice on top.
- And really shake it until the outside of the shaker is frosty and beading with sweat (10-15 seconds).
Now before you get you leave me a nasty comment, I fully realize that a classic Cadillac margarita does not have added sweetener.
That the Grand Marnier IS the sweetener.
But this is the way I like it and I urge you to try it. I like to use more lime juice than is typically called for and the sweetness of the agave balances it out just perfectly.
If you still feel it is too sweet, just leave it out.
how to serve
Rim the glass. I like to drink my margaritas out of a rocks glass, but a margarita glass is nice too. Whichever you use rub a lime wedge along the rim of the glass.
Coat with salt. Fill a small dish with fine sea salt. Turn the glass upside down and dip the rim in the salt until an even layer of salt covers the rim of the glass.
Strain the margarita. Take the salt rimmed glass and fill with ice. Strain the shaken margarita over the fresh ice and garnish with a lime wedge.
Once you’ve got this one mastered it is pretty simple to venture forth into other margarita flavors.
The easiest variations simply substitute the agave syrup for a fruit-flavored syrup. Try these recipes below or hop over to the Margarita Week page for inspiration from my favorite food bloggers!
more margarita recipes to try!
- Sparkling Blood Orange Margarita
- Pitcher-Perfect Sour Orange Margarita
- Spicy Raspberry Jalapeño Margarita
- Blackberry Limonada Margarita
- Morning Margarita
- Apple-Lime Margarita
- Crushed Strawberry Margarita
try this original cadillac margarita for cinco de mayo
There’s no better time to break out that cocktail shaker than on Cinco de Mayo! Looking for more fun ideas? Check out our Cinco de Mayo Party Guide for lots of DIY decor and recipe inspiration. If you do shake one (or two) up take a pic and tag me on Instagram @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating) !
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