My friend Jenessa makes the absolute best cadillac margarita I have ever tasted. Seriously. It’s not even a comparison. Her cadillac margarita has the perfect balance of orange and lime, just the right amount of tequila, and doesn’t contain any added sugar or artificial sweeteners. It’s a smooth, tangy, boozy delight that is perfect for after work cocktails, a weekend party, or even a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Lucky for you, she has agreed to share it with us. Read on for a few tips including why it’s called a cadillac margarita and how to easily salt the glass.
Originally appearing on the blog in April 2018, the recipe was last updated in February 2019.
As a food blogger, one of my favorite things is having friends who love food as much as I do. They not only love to hear me geek out about different types of meringue or how to fry fish in an oven, they like to geek out about their own culinary creations too. Jenessa is one of those friends.
She volunteers as my taste tester and in exchange I get the benefits of her cake creations and cocktail mastery. One of her best is this handcrafted cadillac margarita. With fresh juice and top shelf liquor, it has just the right amount of tang without any unnecessary ingredients.
In sharing this recipe with you, she also let me borrow her citrus juicer. It’s a gorgeous centerpiece that usually sits proudly in the middle of her kitchen. Her juicer not only makes for quicker margaritas, but it looks pretty fantastic in the photos as well. While I do love borrowing it, I’m more likely to use my handheld wooden juicer on a regular basis.
As any cocktail connoisseur will tell you, the most important ingredient in a margarita is always going to be the tequila. Since I’m more of a wine drinker, the expertise for this recipe comes straight from Jenessa with a little help from Tequila.net.
Whatever brand of tequila you choose, look for one made with 100% agave. Agave is a cactus plant that is fermented to make tequila, kind of like how corn is used to make whiskey and potatoes or rice are used for vodka. Having 100% agave means you are drinking pure tequila, which will mean fewer unpleasant side effects of a hangover. There are four main types of 100% agave tequila: blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo.
The other type of tequila you are going to see on the market is gold or joven tequila. It is typically a mixed tequila that is not 100% agave. These typically contain added colors, flavors, or sugars and I cannot recommend them for a high quality margarita.
On the lighter end of the spectrum we have blanco or silver tequila. Blanco tequila is tequila in its purest form. It is unaged and should showcase the natural flavors of the agave. Those flavors will meld right into the orange and lime flavors resulting in a margarita with a milder in flavor.
Next up is reposado. Reposado is a mid-range tequila that is typically aged in oak barrels between 2 and 11 months. The oak barrels impart flavor, similar to the effect they have on bourbon or wine. The result is a bit more robust than blanco and has flavors that will compliment a margarita. Reposado is what Jenessa uses for her margarita, Hornitos reposado to be exact.
Añejo tequila covers the last two categories and is the most complex of the three. Añejo goes through an extended oak barrel aging process in small batches. A standard añejo includes those aged over 1 year, while an extra añejo is aged over three years. These types of tequila cost more, but are crafted to enjoy on their own. You could put it in a margarita, but it’s kind of like using a high end French bordeaux for sangria or a rare bourbon for a whiskey and coke. It’s an unnecessary and expensive waste.
A standard margarita (according to the International Bartenders Association) only contains tequila, cointreau, and lime juice. However, many recipes floating around today include sugars like agave or simple syrup, or sweet and sour mixes. Through her many trials, Jenessa realized that these additions were disguising the natural flavors that should be present in a margarita.
After playing around with different combinations, she realized that simple and natural is best. Fresh orange provides all the sweetness needed to make a balanced margarita that isn’t too strong. This is why we use half of an orange and half of a lime per margarita.
As in all fresh fruits, you limes and oranges will naturally give off a varying amount of juice, but it’s typically consistent enough to always make a delicious end result. To maximize the amount of juice from your fruit: place the fruit on a steady surface and place your hand on top, using firm pressure roll the fruit back and forth a couple times before slicing it. This helps to loosen up the pulp and break open the segments, resulting in more juice in your glass.
Make Mine a Cadillac
If you’ve been to a Mexican restaurant or bar, you have probably seen a cadillac margarita on the menu. A cadillac margarita gets its name from the additional splash of Gran Marnier on top and is typically reserved for margaritas that have top shelf liquor. Gran Marnier is another type of orange liquor, but unlike Cointreau, it is brandy based. Cointreau is our high end replacement for triple sec.
Using a combination of both Cointreau and Gran Marnier in this recipe really brings out the orange flavor, while also giving this margarita the booze factor it deserves. The Gran Marnier is sometimes served on the side in a shot glass, but it’s intended to be poured into the drink.
Salt or No Salt
The question of salting the rim of the glass comes down to a personal choice. Personally, I love it and wouldn’t have my margaritas any other way. I’m the person that will drink straight from the glass and savor that salty sweet balance as I rotate the drink. If you agree, here is the how to do it.
I use the same kosher salt for salting the rim as I use in cooking. Grab a small plate and pour a tablespoon or so of salt in the middle. Give it a gentle shake to spread it out in a thin layer. Roll out your fruit as mentioned above, then slice it in half.
Using the cut surface of one of your limes or oranges, rub it around the glass rim to dampen it. Flip the glass upside down and swirl it in the salt. Flip it up, fill it with ice, then add in your freshly squeezed cadillac margarita.
Make a Party Pitcher
The recipe as written makes a single serving, but you can easily size it up to make a party pitcher. Check out the tips below and try adding slices of orange and lime to the pitcher for a fun presentation.
- See the notes section of the recipe for instructions for an eight serving party pitcher.
- Combine the fruit juice and liquors in advance to make a margarita concentrate, and chill in the fridge until needed.
- Filling 12 ounce glasses to the top with ice should provide enough dilution for the margarita concentrate. Alternatively, you could put half the ice in the pitcher and half in the glasses. It all depends on how quickly you plan to drink it and how strong you like them.
- Do not shake with or pour over ice until ready to serve!
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Jenessa’s Cadillac Margarita Recipe
Made with fresh orange and lime, cointreau, grand marnier, and reposado tequila this cadillac margarita packs a punch and tantalizes your taste buds. Make a single serving or a pitcher. Salted rim or not. Whatever you choose, make it yours.
It’s the perfect drink for a sunny summer day, taco Tuesday, or even a Cinco de Mayo celebration. If made in advance, don’t mix it with ice until ready to serve. If you have leftovers, you may be doing it wrong. As always, drink responsibly.
If you like this recipe, please give it a FIVE STAR rating and share on Instagram #reneenicoleskitchen.
- 1/2 orange
- 1/2 lime
- 2 ounces reposado tequila
- 1/2 ounce Cointreau
- 1 splash Gran Marnier
- Roll out orange and lime on a sturdy surface to break up the pulp and release the juice. Slice in half, reserving 1/2 of each for the second round or another recipe.
- If desired, salt the rim of the serving glass - a 12oz double old fashioned glass works well - then fill with ice.
- In a large glass or cocktail shaker juice the orange and lime.
- Add in the tequila, Cointreau, and Gran Marnier.
- Fill the shaker with ice, cover and shake to combine, then strain into serving glass.
- Serve immediately and drink responsibly.
To make a pitcher with 8 servings use the following amounts:
- 4 oranges
- 4 limes
- 2 cups reposado tequila
- 1/2 cup Cointreau
- 3 TBSP Gran Marnier
- 8 - 12 ounce glasses and salt for the rims
Make the margarita concentrate in advance:
- Combine the fruit juice and liquors in advance and chill until needed.
- Salt the rims of 8 - 12 ounce glasses and FILL with ice. Divide the margarita concentrate between the glasses and stir.
- A 1 quart pitcher should hold the ingredients without ice. If you want to ice the pitcher instead of the glasses, use a 2 quart pitcher.
- If the margaritas are too strong, add 2 cups of ice to the concentrate and stir to dilute before serving. (Full glasses of ice should do the trick, but just in case, this works too.)
- Do not shake with or pour over ice until ready to serve!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 216 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 584mg Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 10g Protein: 1g