It’s so basic: The Margarita

In honor of the fact that I’m about to skip this joint and head back to Mexico to hide away during the quote unquote merriest season of the year, let’s discuss the Margarita.

I don’t actually drink Margaritas because I’m not a big fan of tequila, so when I started to do some research I realized this has got to be the easiest drink to make on the planet (next to vodka sodas, of course). And, because it’s heavily dependent on citrus for most of its flavor, it’s incredibly blood-sugar friendly.  But, while a traditional Marg has very few ingredients, consider yourself warned: because it’s so popular and common, this drink is probably one of the top sugar traps in the popular alcoholic beverage world.

Traditional Margs have the following ingredients: Tequila, a shitload of lime juice, possibly a half ounce of orange liqueur, and potentially sugar to cut the bitterness. They’re versatile and can take a lot of forms: on the rocks, blended, or shaken/more martini-style. They’re lime-y, but not a particularly sweet drink.

But, smart venues have learned that people like shit that’s sweet and doesn’t actually taste like alcohol (don’t even try to argue with me about this… just go to your nearest Starbucks and find me a coffee beverage that actually tastes like coffee instead of sugar and then we’ll talk) – so they mix in things like sweet & sour mixes, blenders, juices, other myriad liqueurs, etc. to make this drink more “palatable.” So when you think you’re ordering basically tequila and lime, you’re actually getting a drink that’s 300+ calories with 30+ grams of sugar sunk in there. It tastes good, but here comes the BG rollercoaster. Is it really worth it?

Some tips to help you on your Margarita journey (self-made or purchased):

  1. Good Margaritas should make use of pure agave tequila (that is, 100% agave). Yes, tequila is made with agave – but the sugary part that would affect a BG is processed out during the distilling process. Pure agave tequila is actually super low in sugar, has 69 calories per ounce and 0 carb. Also, pure agave tequila doesn’t have many additives that other, cheaper/shittier varieties might include, like caramel coloring, other grain alcohols, etc. which can increase the sugar and calorie content… and here comes your hangover headache. PS, don’t ask me about tequilas that add beetles and shit… bugs in alcohol is just not okay for any reason.
  2. Opt for silver tequila whenever possible. Pure agave tequila can come in different colors and ages. Clear liquors in general (this also goes for rum) have less residual or added sugar. They’re also less likely to have congeners as an ingredient; this is a compound created during fermentation that is linked to more severe, longer lasting hangovers.
  3. Be careful with the form and delivery of your Marg. Be active in your drink preparation when you’re out; ask if the Margs come with mixers in them, or if a place uses full soda as a base. If you tend to like your Margs sweet, have the bartender make you a traditional Marg and add your own sweetener of choice.

How to make a traditional Margarita (est. 2 carb per beverage)

Ingredients (makes one drink):

  • 2 oz tequila
  • 2 oz lime juice (fresh is always better; it takes approx. 1 lime for 2 oz of juice)
  • 1/2 oz orange liqueur (Triple Sec or Cointreau are good options)
  • Optional sweetener
  • Optional ice for blending
  • Optional club soda as a base


  1. Fill cocktail shaker with ice
  2. Add tequila, lime juice, liqueur and sweetener
  3. Cover and shake until chilled
  4. Take chosen glass/cup and coat rim with salt
  5. Pour into glass over more ice / or blend
  6. Enjoy a steady BG all night long

Some options to mix up your flavors if you so desire:

  • Try some different liqueur flavors (be careful how much you use because liqueur is sugary) or extracts, or even muddle in a little fruit
  • If you don’t like tequila, try rum (honestly, if I’m going to get this far I’ll probably just add mint and make it a mojito – but to each their own)
  • To make your Margarita a Paloma, add 2 oz of grapefruit juice and a little sparkling water

2 thoughts on “It’s so basic: The Margarita

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