Learn how to make a restaurant worthy margarita with only five ingredients. This is everything you love about a classic margarita recipe with a twist using watermelon juice.
I’ve always been a fan of ordering a large restaurant margarita. It’s a perfectly balanced, yet slightly tart cocktail that I look forward to drinking. Plus, it has to be my favorite summer cocktail!
Margaritas all have a very similar, yet very different taste to them. You can make a classic margarita with simply tequila, Cointreau or another type of orange liqueur, and lime juice. Or, you can use various fresh fruit juices and flavorings (like watermelon) to make a twist on this cocktail.
Through its history, this classic drink has gone through many different variations. Some restaurant margarita mixes have a higher ratio of tequila (2 parts tequila to 1 part Cointreau and lime juice), while others have equal parts tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice.
There are many ways to make a great margarita, so it’s really up to you to decide which formula you prefer. This recipe is similar to many of the restaurants you go to. It’s strong, super flavorful, and there’s no margarita mix required.
What You'll Learn In This Recipe
- What type of tequila tastes best in a margarita
- How to buy a high quality bottle of tequila
- A few expert tips to achieve a flavorful restaurant margarita
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Ingredients You Need
We only need five simple ingredients for these watermelon restaurant margaritas including:
Watermelon: There is no margarita mix needed for this recipe. Instead, we are going to use freshly prepared watermelon juice. You'll want to pick up a ripe, seedless watermelon from the store, then cut it into cubes. This is one of the main ingredients that helps flavor the margarita.
Tequila: Everyone has their own favorite brand - Casamigos, Don Julio, or Patrón tequila. This recipe tastes best with blanco (silver) tequila. The most important thing to look for when purchasing a bottle of tequila is that 100% agave appears somewhere on the label. The reason this is so important is that all alcohol is made from sugar. We want to ensure that our tequila is created solely from the sugar of the blue agave and nothing else!
Cointreau: Another key ingredient in margaritas is orange liqueur. I prefer Cointreau because of the high quality orange flavor you'll taste in the margarita. However, another orange liqueur like triple sec or Grand Marnier will also work!
Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice: Don’t be tempted to use lime juice from a bottle. There are only a few ingredients in this restaurant margarita recipe, which means you need to use high quality ingredients for a fresh and bright taste. I always recommend using hand squeezed, fresh lime juice.
Blue Agave Syrup: This is a syrup that helps sweeten up the margarita. Feel free to add more or less of the liquid sweetener depending on your taste!
How To Make This Recipe
The reason this margarita tastes so delicious is that we use fresh and bright ingredients. It takes a little extra time, but the final taste makes the effort all worth it!
For the best way to make a restaurant margarita, follow these easy and simple steps.
Prepare The Ingredients
1. Cut up the watermelon into 2 inch cubes. I love using a sharp chef's knife to break down the watermelon.
2. Using a high powdered blender, blend the watermelon until a juice forms. This is a great technique for making fresh, homemade juices at home.
3. If you don't mind pulp in your juice, you can skip this step. However, I find that the margarita tastes more silky smooth by straining the juice with a fine mesh strainer. It can take a few minutes for the juice to fully strain, but I think it is worth the extra effort.
While the recipe below is for a single serving, you will have enough watermelon juice to make 4 margaritas. You can store the leftover watermelon juice in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days if you don't use it all at once.
4. Another key to a restaurant style margarita is freshly squeeze lime juice. Each of the whole limes should give you about 1 - 1.5 ounces of juice. You'll need two ounces of juice for this recipe.
Mix Up The Cocktail
Once you have all of the ingredients prepped and ready to go, it's time to start mixing up the cocktail.
5. I like to get my garnishes ready prior to shaking up the cocktail. Line the rim of the glass with kosher salt (sugar would also work).
6. To a cocktail shaker add 4 ounces of watermelon juice, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, agave syrup, and ½ cup of ice. Shake for 30-45 seconds until chilled. If you don't have a cocktail shaker, a mason jar will also work!
7. Finally, it's time to strain the cocktail. Add a fresh batch of ice cubes to the margarita glass, then strain the margarita mix on top. If you're feeling fancy, add a small wedge of watermelon and a slice of lime to a cocktail pick as a garnish. This really finishes off the classic margarita cocktail in an elevated way.
- Always purchase a bottle of tequila that is labeled with 100% agave. That usually indicates the best tequila bottles.
There's not necessarily anything 'wrong' per se with buying a bottle of tequila made with sugar additives other than agave - that's called mixto tequila. However, if you're shelling out the money for a quality bottle of tequila, you should get what you pay for instead of a cheap tequila.
- If you prefer drinking reposado tequila, you can substitute the blanco tequila for a reposado.
- For high quality margaritas, always take the time to garnish the cocktail. I love using a restaurant style margarita glass with a salted rim (sugar will work too). Then, add a tiny slice of watermelon and lime onto a cocktail pick. It adds a beautiful and special touch to the cocktail.
- Want a different flavored margarita? Try using another type of fruit or citrus juice in place of the watermelon juice. My personal favorites include blood orange and strawberry.
- The easiest way to get a balanced cocktail is by accurately measuring out all of the ingredients. I recommend using a jigger for measuring.
Every restaurant uses a slightly different variation of ratios for a margarita. Most restaurants will use 1.5 - 2 ounces of blanco tequila for one margarita.
Sure, you can substitute a splash of orange juice instead of using Cointreau or triple sec. It is going to give the margarita a different taste. However, if you’d prefer to have less liquor in the margarita, this is a great option.
Cointreau is a type of orange liqueur. You could substitute equal proportions of another orange liqueur such as an off-brand triple sec or Grand Marnier. Check out this guide to orange liqueurs video to learn about the differences between all the brands.
More Tequila Recipes
Looking for more tasty margarita recipes or cocktails for happy hour? These are some of my favorite drinks with delicious flavor:
Restaurant Style Watermelon Margarita
- Add cubed watermelon to a blender. Blend on high until watermelon juice has formed and no large pieces of watermelon remain. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the watermelon juice to remove the excess pulp.
- To a cocktail shaker add 4 ounces of watermelon juice, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, agave syrup, and ½ cup of ice. Shake for 30-45 seconds until chilled.
- To serve, use a lime wedge or extra agave syrup to wet the rim of a margarita glass. Dip the rim of the glass into Morton kosher salt. Add ice cubes as needed to the glass, then strain margarita mix over ice. Add a small wedge of watermelon and lime wedge to a cocktail pick as a garnish. Serve immediately.