How To Order a Margarita

How To Order a Margarita at a Bar or Restaurant

Looking for an alternative to ordering a mixed drink or beer at a bar?

When you first hit the legal drinking age, no one tells you how to order a drink at a bar or restaurant. So, some people just pick a drink and never try anything else because they don’t know how to order it. Well, we are here to fix that. 

Let’s talk about how to order margaritas, one of the most popular drinks and definitely our favorite cocktail. 

How To Order a Margarita
Classic Margarita

What is in a Classic Margarita?

A classic margarita consists of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice or sweet and sour mix/margarita mix. Every bar or restaurant has its own way of making margaritas by switching up the brands of liquor they use, the ratios, or themixers they use. This is why margaritas taste slightly different depending on where you are. 

At a Mexican restaurant, you also may see the term “house margarita,” which is just their way of naming their individual recipe for making a traditional margarita. Keep in mind that house margaritas typically do not use top-shelf liquor but are a good value and the easiest drink to order at a Mexican restaurant. 

Things to Know About Margaritas Before Ordering

Frozen vs. On the Rocks

When you order a margarita, the first question you’ll likely be asked is whether you want it frozen or on the rocks. Frozen margaritas are blended with ice for a slushy consistency, while if you opt for on the rocks, the cocktail will be served over ice in your glass. 

In most places, frozen drinks tend to be a bit sweeter, while on the rocks, versions can be heavy on the liquor and sour components. 

Frozen Vs On the Rocks

Tequila Quality & Color

The main liquor component of a margarita is tequila, but not all tequilas are created equally. There are a few things to know when you order in a drink. 

Types of Tequila

There are about four main types of tequila. These include Blanco/silver, which is unaged 100% agave, and Joven/Gold, usually a blend of agave and other ingredients. Then, there is Reposado, which is aged for under a year in oak barrels, and Anejo, which is aged for over a year. There are subcategories in every type of tequila, and each has its own flavor profile. 

Silver or Blanco tequila is typically the go-to, though if you have another favorite, feel free to go for it. 

Liquor Quality Options

Casamigos Blanco

Additionally, with any liquor, there are different levels of quality in a bar, commonly referred to as Well, Call, and Premium or Top-shelf. Well-liquors are more inexpensive off-brands, just like the store brand at your local grocery store. Call liquors are the popular brands that you definitely know by name that are mid-range in price. Premium or Top shelf liquors are the more expensive luxury brands.

In terms of silver tequilas, Well would be Olmeca Altos Plata, Montezuma, or Margaritaville, while Call could be El Jimador, Cazadores, or Jose Cuervo. Top shelf silver tequila includes Casamigos, Milagro, Don Julio, Patron, Espolon, and Clase Azul.

Every bar will have different options at each level of quality and, depending on the establishment, might consider one of the Top Shelf brands a Call or vice versa. For instance, at a high-end bar or restaurant, their Well might be El Jimador, Call could be Patron or Don Julio, and the Top-shelf is Clase Azul.

Typically, the higher-end tequilas have a smoother taste, though, in a margarita, top-shelf alcohol is unnecessary because the sweet and sour flavors will mask a top-shelf tequila’s finer nuances.

Don Julio Blanco

With Salt or Sugar Rimmed

With Salt or Sugar Rimmed

When ordering margaritas, you should expect to be asked if you want a salt or sugar rim. A salt rim is traditional, but sugar is the way to go if you want an extra sweet flavor. Some people choose to go with nothing on the rim as well. 

It is all about what taste you prefer, so if this is your first time trying a margarita, just pick the one that sounds the best to you, and then next time, you can order the other to try both. 


On almost any menu that has a margarita, you’ll likely find flavor options. The three most common flavored variations include strawberry, mango, and Coronarita. For strawberry and mango flavors, fruit puree is added to the original recipe, while a Coronarita has a Corona bottled beer flipped upside down into the margarita glass. 

Ordering flavored margaritas is great for those who don’t love the taste of tequila, and fruity ones are perfect for those who like their drinks on the sweeter side since they are typically more sour than sweet.  

Margarita Flavors

Put it All Together

How To Order a Margarita

So, as an example, here is how you would order a strawberry frozen margarita with an upgraded liquor at a bar. Say: “I would like a frozen strawberry margarita with Casamigos and a sugar rim.” For ordering just a margarita the traditional way, you would say: “I’ll have a margarita on the rocks with a salted rim.” A simple formula is: size (optional) + frozen or fresh + flavor (optional) + tequila choice (optional) + salt or sugar rim.

Ordering Margarita Variations at the Bar

How to Order a Margarita

How to Order a Keto Margarita at a Bar

Are you on the keto diet? You can still order margaritas at happy hour! Ask for your favorite tequila, fresh lime juice, and a sweetener alternative like Splenda. Additionally, you can optionally add sparkling water or club soda to give it more volume and lessen the alcohol taste. 

How to Order a Skinny Margarita at a Bar

A skinny margarita is one with fewer carbs and fewer calories. To order a skinny margarita, opt for tequila, freshly squeezed orange juice, fresh lime juice, and light agave or simple syrup. This takes away the high-calorie count of Grand Marnier or another triple sec and the pre-made sour mixes. You can add sparkling water or club soda if you want a lighter cocktail. 

How to Order a Margarita without Sour Mix

Though most people like the balance of the sour mix, some want a fresher taste, so to request a margarita without the sour, just tell the bartender you want to order tequila, triple sec, lime, and simple syrup only. 

How to Order a Low Carb Margarita

If you are not quite keto but still want a lower-carb alternative, opt for tequila, triple sec, lime, and a small dab of agave. Keep in mind that it will be sourer and have a strong liquor taste. 

How to Order a Virgin Margarita

Most bars and restaurants will know what you mean when you say “virgin margarita”; otherwise, you can order a drink with no tequila or orange liqueurs. Or, simply say margarita with no alcohol, but keep in mind that it will just taste like a limeade, so you could just order a limeade instead. 

How to Order a Healthy Margarita

The most unhealthy part of a margarita is the mixer. Therefore, a healthy margarita order would just include switching the sweet and sour mix for the juice of limes and agave. It is the best way to cut extra sugar and calories. You could also order Ranch Water, which has tequila, lime, and Topo Chico, making it an excellent way to get similar flavors with low calories and sugar. 

Bonus: How to Order Margaritas in Spanish

To order a frozen margarita in Spanish, say: “Me puede dar una margarita congelada?” which translates to “Can I get a frozen margarita?” For a margarita on the rocks, say: “Me puede dar una margarita en la rocas?” which, of course, translates to “Can I get a margarita on the rocks?” 

If you want a salt rim, you’ll add con borde de sal on the end, while if you want a sugar rim, you’ll add “con borde de azúcar” to the end. 

These phrases are vital on a trip to a Spanish-speaking country! 

How to Order Margaritas in Spanish

Margarita Alternatives to Order

Margarita Alternatives

If margaritas are not your style, other popular cocktails offer similar flavors without tequila. Try a Moscow Mule consisting of vodka, ginger beer, and lime. Then there’s the Whiskey Sour which just has bourbon, lemon juice, sugar, and a dash of egg whites to create a creamy froth on top. 

A traditional martin is a vodka or gin and olive juice or vermouth, but if you substitute lime juice for the vermouth, you’ve got yourself a gimlet. For a classic cocktail that’s completely different from a margarita, you can try an old-fashioned or a Manhattan, which has sweet vermouth or dry vermouth, bitters, and scotch or rye whiskey.

These are just a few examples of other common cocktails that can be made at most establishments.

Bottom Line

There are an infinite amount of cocktails you can order at the bar, and the best way to try something new is to simply tell the bartenders what you like. They can switch it up and make you a drink you’ll love. However, using this guide makes it easy to get a margarita anywhere.

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