Golden Margarita

by Lauren
1 servings
2 min

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Last Updated on January 26, 2022 by

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You only need a handful of ingredients to make this refreshing Golden Margarita (sometimes called a Grand Marnier Margarita). The combination of top shelf liquor and fresh lime juice will ensure that you never want to touch a bottled marg mix again.

Table of contents
What is a Golden Margarita?

A Golden Margarita--sometimes also called a Grand Marnier Margarita--is a delicious, refreshing, and golden-hued rocks margarita. All of the ingredients are fresh and top shelf. These cocktails are smooth, with sweet and sour flavors in perfect balance.

Please trust me when I tell you that it is so easy to make a truly fantastic margarita at home, all without even thinking about touching a bottle of pre-made margarita mix. Seriously, step away from the mix and give this drink a try. You'll never go back.


One of the beautiful things about the recipe is that you really only need a handful of very good ingredients. You'll need:

  • Reposado tequila: Reposado tequila (or tequila reposado, more accurately) is tequila that has been rested and aged in oak barrels for 2-12 months, giving it a golden color ("reposado" means "rested" in Spanish). The golden color of the tequila is what gives this cocktail its signature golden hue. In addition to the different color, aged tequila has a smoother flavor profile than silver (or blanco) tequila, which is bottled directly after being distilled.
  • Grand Marnier liqueur: If you want to call this a Grand Marnier Margarita, you gotta use Grand Marnier. Cointreau or triple sec will also get the job done, if you happen to have either of those on hand. However, the flavor won't be quite the same.
  • Simple syrup or agave nectar: Either of these sweeteners would be a welcome addition to this margarita. No matter what you use, it's important that you choose something with a relatively neutral flavor so as not to overpower the flavors of the liquors. For instance, I probably wouldn't go with a flavored simple syrup. It's also important to go with a liquid sweetener, like simple or agave. That will ensure that the sweetener can be incorporated seamlessly into the drink. Granulated sugar, for instance, would make for a gritty margarita.
  • Lime juice: Freshly squeezed, please. It really does make a big difference in terms of flavor.
  • Kosher salt: You gotta have some kosher salt on the rim of your margarita, right? Right.

How to make a Golden Margarita

Like I said above, it is very easy to whip up one (or more) of these refreshing margaritas.

You'll start by rimming your glass of choice with kosher salt and carefully adding some ice to your glass. You don't want to dislodge the salt!

Next, ice, tequila, orange liqueur, freshly squeezed lime juice, and simple syrup (or agave nectar) will get shaken up in a cocktail shaker.

After that, you'll strain your cocktail into the prepared glass and garnish it all with a wedge of lime, if you're feeling fancy (you know that you are).

And that's it. You can totally do this. The little bit of effort that it requires is WAY worth the reward of sipping a fabulous, homemade, top shelf margarita.

Recommended Tools

  • Cocktail jigger - this one has become a fast favorite in my house
  • Cocktail shaker - I recently switched to a Boston shaker and am never going back
  • Hawthorne strainer - I also just started using a Hawthorne strainer with my Boston shaker and
  • Rocks glasses or margarita glasses - I generally find that rocks glasses get the job done, but you do you

Other Margarita and Tequila/Mezcal Recipes

Looking for other margarita recipes? Because you know I've got 'em. I even have some that use tequila/mezcal that aren't margaritas. Peep them below.

  • Cadillac Margaritas - another top shelf margarita recipe
  • Cranberry Margaritas - great any time of the year, but especially around the winter holidays
  • Grilled Mezcal Margaritas - smoky and delicious thanks to mezcal and grilled citrus
  • Apple Cider Margaritas - who knew that tequila and apple cider worked so well together?
  • Mexican Moscow Mule - a fun riff on the classic Moscow Mule

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different kind of tequila?

Sure! Just know that if you aren't using gold tequila, you won't be drinking a golden margarita. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Do I *need* to use Grand Marnier?

It is definitely the preferred orange liqueur, but you can also sub in some Cointreau or triple sec. However, just like for the tequila question above, if you don't use Grand Marnier, you can't technically call this a Grand Marnier Margarita.

Can I batch this recipe?

Sure! Just scale the ingredients up based on the number of drinks that you want to make!

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Recipe details
  • 1  servings
  • Prep time: 2 Minutes Cook time: 0 Minutes Total time: 2 min
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  • kosher salt
  • 1.5 ounces reposado tequila
  • 1.5 ounces Grand Marnier liqueur (see notes)
  • 1.5 ounces lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 ounce simple simple syrup or agave nectar
  • lime wedge, for garnish (optional)

Run a wedge of lime around the rim of your glass. Spread ~1 tablespoon of kosher salt onto a small plate or shallow bowl. Dip the juice-moistened rim of the glass into the salt, creating a salt rim.
Add ice to the glass and set aside.
Add a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker. Add reposado tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and simple syrup. Seal the shaker and shake until very cold.
Strain the margarita into the prepared glass.
Garnish with a lime wedge, if desired.
  • You can use another kind of orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or triple sec, if that's what you have on hand.
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