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Jenessa’s Cadillac Margarita

4.7 stars (31 ratings)

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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.

Square close up of two cadillac margaritas in front of a stand mixer and bowl of citrus fruit.

A Top Shelf Margarita Recipe

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 premium ingredients like freshly squeezed lime juice, top shelf tequila, and grand marnier, it has just the right amount of tang without any unnecessary ingredients. No sour mix here!

This cadillac margarita is perfect for sharing with friends, serving at parties, or sipping to unwind at the end of the week. It’s the perfect drink for a sunny summer day, taco Tuesday, or even a Cinco de Mayo celebration. A word of caution: they are strong and they go down easy! As always, drink responsibly.

The three liquors for a cadillac margarita - grand marnier, reposado tequilla, and cointreau in front of a basket of citrus fruit.

What You’ll Need

These days many margarita recipes floating around include additional sweeteners like agave syrup or simple syrup, or cheap sweet and sour mixes to create that sweet tangy flavor that is the signature of a good margarita. However, according to the International Bartenders Association a standard margarita only contains tequila, cointreau (aka orange liqueur), and lime juice. To make it a cadillac margarita you add in a shot of grand marnier. Here is what we put in this classic cadillac margarita.

  • Tequila – A top shelf margarita needs top shelf tequila, preferably reposado.
  • Cointreau – An orange liqueur made with bitter orange essence. It adds a sweet citrusy component.
  • Grand Marnier – Also an orange liqueur, this one is brandy based and is what makes a cadillac margarita a cadillac margarita. Without this, it’s just a classic margarita.
  • Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice – The main juice component, it adds a tangy sour note.
  • Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice – The secret ingredient in my cadillac margarita, it adds a touch of sweetness without adding agave syrup or other sweeteners.
  • Lime Wedge – Rubbed on the rim it adds a nice tang and if you are planning to salt the rim it helps the salt to stick.
  • Salt – An optional salt rim gives a margarita it’s classic look and adds a salty kick to the sweet and tangy concoction. Maldon sea salt is a bigger flatter flake while rock salt is large crystals. Personally, I like to use the same kosher salt that I use for cooking.

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How to Make a Cadillac Margarita

Making a margarita isn’t just easy, it’s also fun!

  • Prepare the fruit – Place the orange on a steady surface and cover with your hand. Using a flat palm, roll the orange back and forth a few times to break up the pulp and release the juices. This will make it easier and faster to juice. Repeat this process with the lime. Slice the orange and lime in halves, setting the second half aside for the next round.
  • Prepare your serving glass – Rim a rocks glass or margarita glass with salt (optional, see below for tips) or rub with lime juice then fill with ice. Ice cubes, crushed ice, or cracked ice all work.
  • Mix your cocktail – Using you cocktail shaker or a large glass, juice the orange and lime, then measure in the tequila, cointreau, and grand marnier. Fill with ice then shake vigorously or stir to combine and chill.
  • Strain and Serve – Strain the margarita from the cocktail shaker into your prepared glass, garnish with an optional fresh lime wedge, and serve immediately.

The Difference Between a Cadillac Margarita and a Classic Margarita

If you’ve been to a Mexican restaurant or bar, you have probably seen a cadillac margarita on the menu. If you are unfamiliar with margaritas you were probably left wondering what makes it so special. Simply put: a cadillac margarita is made with premium ingredients like top shelf tequila and fresh lime juice, then topped off with a shot of grand marnier, a brandy based orange liqueur.

Using a combination of both cointreau and grand marnier in this recipe really brings out the orange flavor, while also giving this margarita the booze factor it deserves. In my opinion, a cadillac margarita is the best margarita recipe. Often, the grand marnier is served on the side in a shot glass, but it’s intended to be poured into the drink.

You can make this cadillac margarita recipe into a regular margarita by simply omitting the additional grand marnier.

How to Salt Rim a Glass

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.

Depending on personal preference, you can use sea salt, rock salt, or get fancy with flavored salts. I use the same salt for salting the rim as I use in cooking: Morton Kosher Salt. 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. After you’ve prepared your lime by rolling it out for maximum juiciness, take half and slice it into wedges.

Take a lime wedge, split it, then 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. You can then serve the same lime wedge you used for the rim as a garnish on the glass.

Overhead shot of two cadillac margaritas with a plate of salt and fresh oranges and limes.

How to Pick the Best Tequila for the Perfect Margarita

As any cocktail connoisseur will tell you, the most important ingredient in a margarita is always going to be the tequila. Any tequila lover is going to tell you that reposado tequila made from 100% agave is the one you want in your margarita. Since I’m more of a wine drinker, the expertise for this recipe comes straight from my friend Jenessa with a little help from Tequila.net.

Why do you want a tequila 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: tequila blanco, tequila reposado, tequila 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 premium margarita.

Tequila Types

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 tequila 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, meaning old, is an aged tequila that 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.

Tips for Success

While this recipe is super simple, there is always room for a couple of tips and tricks.

  • Roll the fruit to maximize the amount of juice: 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.
  • Don’t swap the fresh limes for bottled lime juice. The point of a cadillac margarita is to make it fancy, the quality of your cocktail is controlled by the quality of your ingredients.
  • Buy more limes and oranges than you will think you need. You are probably going to want more than one and no one needs to be driving to the store during cocktail hour.
  • Make sure you have enough ice on hand. For every margarita you make you’ll go through one cocktail shaker filled with ice plus one rocks glass filled with ice. That’s twice the ice for every drink you make.
Vertical image of two cadillac margaritas in front of a stand mixer and bowl of citrus fruit.

Make a Party Pitcher of Margaritas

The only thing better than serving up margaritas to your friends is serving up pitchers of margaritas next to platters of mexican food! The recipe as written makes a single serving, but it easily sizes up to make a party pitcher. 

  • For exact measurements, see the notes section of the recipe for instructions to make an eight serving party pitcher of margaritas.
  • Combine the fruit juice and liquors in advance to make a margarita concentrate, and chill in the fridge until needed. Since it’s chilled in the fridge instead of being shaken over ice, this concentrate is going to be stronger.
  • Filling 12 ounce glasses to the top with ice should provide enough dilution for the margarita concentrate. However, if you want to sit the pitcher at the table I recommend splitting the ice between the pitcher and among smaller glasses, so that you can all go back for seconds.
  • To make your party pitchers prettier, add slices of fresh limes.
  • If you want to get fancy, serve the shot of grand marnier on the side, like they would at a Mexican restaurant or bar.
  • Do not shake with or pour over ice until ready to serve!

If you like this recipe, please give it a FIVE-STAR rating and share it on your favorite social channel!

Square close up of two cadillac margaritas in front of a stand juicer and bowl of citrus fruit.

Jenessa’s Cadillac Margarita

Tangy, sweet, and all together delicious, this top-shelf Cadillac Margarita made with reposado tequila is a fantastic addition to your cocktail menu. Whether you are looking for an after work drink, a pairing for taco Tuesday, or the perfect pitcher for Cinco de Mayo this recipe has you covered. 
4.7 stars (31 ratings)
prep: 5 minutes
total: 5 minutes
servings: 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 ounces reposado tequila
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 splash Gran Marnier
  • ice
  • salt

Instructions

  • 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, garnish, salting the rim, 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 Grand Marnier. 
  • Fill the shaker with ice, cover and shake to combine, then strain into serving glass.
  • Serve immediately and drink responsibly.

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Notes

Pitcher Instructions
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
  • Ice
  • 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

Serving: 1Calories: 216kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 1gSodium: 584mgFiber: 2gSugar: 10g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

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About Renee N Gardner

I'm the recipe developer, food photographer, and mastermind behind Renee Nicole's Kitchen, where I help create kitchen confidence to inspire home cooks to become home chefs. No fancy fads here, just high-quality, homemade recipes featuring seasonal ingredients.

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10 Comments on “Jenessa’s Cadillac Margarita”

  1. I tried “hovering” over recipe card to find “pitcher-sized” ingredients, but wasn’t successful. Can you provide? Making this fantastic sounding ‘rita for a friend’s retirement party. Ole! 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Kay!
      I’m so sorry about that! I switched recipe cards and the new one doesn’t offer adjustable servings. I’ll work on getting it updated for you now. Congratulations to your friend!!

      Renee

      Reply
  2. I haven’t tried it yet I just wanted to say that this was easy to read and understand. Now I can shop for ingredients with a little more knowledge of what I’m doing. Thank you so much

    Reply
  3. 5 stars
    Thanks for all the info! I am also more of a wine drinker but I do love a margarita!! I didn’t know the first thing about tequila so this will help. Also, super cool juicer! These look like delicious drinks! (By the way, I also love salt on the rim – my husband prefers sugar. Citrus and salt is my favorite combo!)

    Reply
  4. 5 stars
    Thanks for all the info! I am also more of a wine drinker but I do love a margarita!! I didn’t know the first thing about tequila so this will help. Also, super cool juicer! These look like delicious drinks! (By the way, I also love salt on the rim – my husband prefers sugar. Citrus and salt is my favorite combo!)

    Reply
    • I too identify as a wine drinker, but learned so much about tequila researching this post! I have a greater appreciation for it and now know why gold tequila is more likely to give me a hangover than silver. For me, that was an eyeopener, since we typically think of gold being better than silver. I haven’t had sugar on a margarita – although I wouldn’t be opposed to trying it!

      Reply

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