When I think of the Margarita vs. the Daiquiri, I can’t really decide which I prefer. I mean, when you think of relaxing in the heat, both are perhaps the most essential summer drinks. Well, maybe the mojito, too. Either way, they share good company.

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Classic Margaritas and Daiquiris are darn good, refreshing cocktails– so it’s no surprise that they are among the most popular cocktails in the world. (Although, admittedly, the Margarita is probably a bit more well-known.)

However, before we get into the celebration of these cocktails, I must address the elephant in the room…

I recently had a discussion with a fellow bartender friend about cocktails. Surprising, I know. Specifically, we talked about amazing classics that have been butchered over the years. Many came up, but two in particular stood out the most: the Margarita and the Daiquiri.

If you’re a bartender or cocktail connoisseur, you probably have at least a vague understanding of what I’m alluding to here: The act of simplifying these cocktails with the addition of sweet & sour mix.

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Oh, man, I can do a very long-winded soapbox diatribe on why margarita mix makes for a bad margarita with an unnatural level of sweetness that should be made illegal… But for now, I won’t go there.

Just know, the moment these extra – chemical in nature – additives were added to these cocktails and stuffed in the blender with alcohol, an unholy mess of a drink was born, single-handedly destroying these cocktails for many people who frankly just don’t know any better.

It’s not their fault; it’s bars, hotels, and restaurants foregoing quality to make quantity. The only people who suffer are the consumers and the bartenders making them. So how do we make this right? How do we help to change this perspective? Simple: Education.

Instead of me droning on and on about where these classic cocktails went wrong, let’s discuss what they actually are. Believe me, when you have a proper one, you’ll never look back at messy frozen forms ever again.

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The Margarita and the Daiquiri are two cocktails of a similar base formula; one could argue they are even cousins in a sense. They both belong to the sour family of cocktails, as they contain citrus juice (refreshing lime in this case).

And yet, they are very different cocktails – particularly because they only share one common ingredient: fresh lime juice (yes, fresh lime juice, not sweet & sour!). To give you a better idea, let’s break down the classic version of each.

The Margarita:

  • 2 oz of Blanco Tequila
  • ¾ – 1 oz of Triple Sec
  • ¾ – 1 oz of Lime Juice (fresh)
The Daiquiri:

  • 2 oz of White Rum
  • ¾ – 1 oz of Simple Syrup
  • ¾ – 1 oz of Lime Juice (fresh)

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Despite being in the same cocktail family with the same recipe structure, these two iconic cocktails have different components.

Notice the use of orange liqueur in the basic Margarita vs. simple syrup in the Daiquiri; these are the sweetening elements for each, which offer a bit of sweetness balanced with the acidity of lime juice.

The key takeaway here is that these have properly balanced flavor profiles, even when you adjust between the ¾ oz and 1 ounce lime juice and sweetener measurement – which is mainly about personal preference.

But arguably, the main difference between margarita cocktails and daiquiris is that the alcohol types are obviously different– tequila vs. rum. Besides the base liquor, there is a lot of room to play with these two drinks.

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One of the beautiful things about starting with such a basic recipe is the versatility of it all, the ability to flex and adjust any of these ingredients into a variation of the same thing or something completely different – something we’ll get into a little later in the article.

Breaking down the structure of a cocktail and understanding the recipe are crucial parts of making good drinks, so much so that it would need more than an article to cover. Good thing we offer a couple of courses designed to do just that!


Before we get into the recipe-making, it’s only fair we dive into a bit of the history of each of these cocktails and how they came to be essential drinks for almost every cocktail lover.

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The history of the classic Margarita, like all cocktails, is a bit murky. Like, really murky. There’s a lot of evidence for many different theories, and there are many opinions debating which one is right.

The recipe itself has been identified by several different names from Daisy to Picador to Tequila Sour as early as 1936. In 1953, according to one source, writer Michael Demarest first used the term “Margarita” in the September 17th edition of a local Santa Rosa Newspaper, the Press Democrat.

Between those two decades comes a myriad of different origin stories including Jose Cuervo ads in the 1940s, Rita Hayworth, a bar/restaurant in Baja California, and an honor story for a showgirl.

It didn’t take long for the cocktail to become the go-to cocktail – and for many people, the only known one – consisting of tequila. It became a frequent guest in recipe books around the world.

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(One book more notable for the cocktail’s inevitable change, Mabel Stegner’s 1952 Electric Blender Recipes, featured the first frozen Margarita recipe. A sarcastic thanks from bartenders everywhere who abhor these frozen slush drinks!)

A few decades later, as these blended cocktails became all the more popular, an inventor and restaurant owner decided to tinker with an old ice cream machine and created the first-ever frozen margarita machine.


The history of the Daiquiri is considerably less complicated than that of the Margarita because there is really only one primary theory, and it’s fairly unromantic in comparison to those of the Margarita’s origins.

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The story goes that, back in 1898, an American engineer named Jennings Cox came to the iron mines of Daiquiri in Cuba; using the ingredients available to him, he engineered the Daiquiri cocktail for the mine workers by experimenting with different recipes and flavors.

However, according to his granddaughter’s fairly blunt story, he was hosting a party and ran out of gin and didn’t want to offer the dry rum outright. So instead, he put together a cocktail with the ingredients he had on hand and served it to his guests.

Slight family disputes about origin aside, the global rise of the Daiquiri wasn’t as explosive as that of the Margarita. It spent much of its early years in Cuba but saw a slow spread around some high-end bars around the US during the 1910s.

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It wasn’t until the time of Prohibition that this rum cocktail finally saw the limelight; tourists and bartenders fled to Cuba, where they were introduced to this classic drink in many forms – including the frozen Daiquiri. Soon after, the cocktail became a regular feature in countless cocktail books.

Eventually, the Daiquiri would become synonymous with the well-known American writer (and famous daiquiri lover), Ernest Hemingway, who eventually had one named after him (recipe below). What’s more, this simple rum cocktail became even more famous when it was announced as the favorite alcoholic drink of JFK.


Now let’s get to the fun stuff where we explore several different recipes, starting with classic daiquiri and classic margarita recipes.

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Important note: These cocktails are extraordinarily expressive and are best illustrated through quality ingredients – remember fresh and natural are always best. I recommend using your favorite tequila or rum (not top shelf but decent quality) rather than the cheap stuff, too.

Note on salt: I list “sea salt” for the optional salted rim, but that just means you can use any coarse salt (kosher salt, general “margarita salt,” etc.) of your choosing.


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The Modern Margarita

One of my favorite recipes that still uses simple ingredients, the modern spin on an “authentic margarita” includes a little agave sweetener.


  • 2 oz Blanco Tequila
  • ¾ oz Triple Sec Orange-Flavored Liqueur (Triple Sec or Cointreau brand)
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • ¼ oz Agave Nectar
  • Sea Salt (optional)

DIRECTIONS: Build all the ingredients into your shaker tin, add ice cubes, and give it a good shake for about 5-7 seconds. Strain out into a rocks glass (or classic Margarita glass if you feel so inclined) with a salt rim with fresh ice.

Garnish: Lime Wedge

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The Original Margarita – Daisy Style

Here’s a more traditional margarita, without additional sweetener– a perfect drink as is, in my opinion.


  • 2 oz Blanco Tequila
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • Sea Salt (optional)

DIRECTIONS: Build all the ingredients into your cocktail shaker with ice, and give it a good shake for about 5-7 seconds. Strain out into prepared glass with ice.

Garnish: Slice of Lime

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The Spicy Margarita

For those who are more adventurous in their cocktail excursions, this recipe takes a refreshing drink to the next level with some spice.


  • 2 oz Blanco Tequila
  • ¾ oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • ¼ oz Agave Nectar
  • 3 Slices of Jalapeño – about a ⅛ – ¼ inch in width
  • Sea Salt (optional)

DIRECTIONS: Add the jalapeños to the shaker tin and muddle them to chunks. Combine all other ingredients into your shaker, add ice, and give it a good shake for about 5-7 seconds. Double-strain out into a salted rim rocks glass with fresh ice.

Garnish: Lime Wheel and Jalapeño Slice

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Island Margarita

Featuring a more tropical, aged flavor because of the reposado, this awesome margarita may just be your new favorite cocktail.


DIRECTIONS: Build all the ingredients into your shaker tin, add ice, and give it a good shake for about 5-7 seconds. Strain out into lava salted rim rocks glass with fresh ice.

Garnish: Pineapple Slice and a Fresh Mint Leaves


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Pineapple Infused Reposado Tequila


  • One 750ml bottle of Reposado Tequila (Fortaleza is one of my favorites to use.)
  • 1 Pineapple

DIRECTIONS: Slice up the pineapple into small chunks (no skin or core), and combine it with the tequila in a sealable container. Refrigerate for about 3-5 days, tasting every day. Once it’s to your liking, strain out all the chunks and pulp. This infusion will last a long time in the fridge – if you don’t drink it all right away!

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Pineapple Agave Syrup


  • Pineapple: Take a few chunks of pineapple from the pineapple above before you infuse it with the tequila.
  • 1 Cup of Agave Nectar
  • ½ Cup of Hot Water

DIRECTIONS: Mash up the pineapple into a fine pulp, then add the hot water, and stir. Let sit for about 10-15 minutes, and then strain out water – a coffee filter works best for straining. Mix the pineapple water and agave together, stirring until water and agave meld together. Keep refrigerated for up to a month.


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The Classic Daiquiri

You’ll want to add this simple drink to your cocktail repertoire, stat. Refreshing and easy to make, you can’t go wrong with a traditional Daiquiri.


  • 2 oz White Rum
  • 1 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1 oz Lime Juice

DIRECTIONS: Build the cocktail into your shaker tin, add ice, and give a good shake for about 10-15 seconds. Strain into a coupe cocktail glass or Nick & Nora glass.

Garnish: Lime Wedge

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The Hemingway Daiquiri

Named after the writer who helped make the daiquiri popular, this version includes fresh juice and more sweetness from the Maraschino– mixed with a slightly bitter flavor from grapefruit.


  • 2 oz White Rum
  • ½ oz Maraschino Liqueur
  • ¾ oz Lime Juice
  • ½ oz Grapefruit Juice
  • ¼ oz Simple Syrup
  • 2 Dashes Grapefruit Bitters (Optional, just something I like to add for a more elevated balance)

DIRECTIONS: Build the cocktail into your shaker tin, add ice, and give a good shake for about 10-15 seconds. Strain into a coupe or Nick & Nora glass.

Garnish: Slice of Lime

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The Santiago Daiquiri – Elevated

This egg white sour recipe may not be for everyone, but I urge you to try it. Note the lemon Daiquiri style rather than one that uses traditional lime juice.


  • 2 oz Aged Rum
  • ½ oz Creole Shrubb
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • ½ oz Demerara Syrup
  • 2 Dashes Aromatic Bitters
  • ¾ oz Egg White

DIRECTIONS: Build all the ingredients into your shaker tin, and dry shake (without ice) for 10 secs. Then add ice and shake again for another 10 secs. Double strain into coupe glass.

Garnish: Torched Dehydrated Lemon Wheel – dehydrated, then burnt with brûlée torch (These make beautiful garnishes!)

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The Proper Pineapple Daiquiri – Never Frozen

I think you already know how I feel about frozen cocktails, but let me reiterate that – even though this sounds like something you would put in a blender – I don’t condone turning this tropical pineapple daiquiri into a slushy.


DIRECTIONS: Build cocktail into your cocktail shaker, add ice, and give a good shake for about 10-15 seconds. Strain into a coupe glass.

Garnish: Pineapple Slice (Optional: Additional Lime Slices)

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Though they follow a similar formula and even have the same base structure, you can see that these two mixed drinks are very different. Each of them brings such a unique flavor profile while sharing a common refreshing quality reminiscent of being at a fancy resort.

What I love the most about these cocktails is how they can work with so many different ingredients and flavors in varying amounts. The possibilities are endless!

I strongly encourage you all to try the classic recipes and understand why these cocktails have their history and a legacy within the cocktail world. If your preference is the frozen versions, I will never try to tell you to give that up…

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But please give the originals a try, and you’ll see why a bartender’s heart sinks when you order the frozen version – I guarantee it.

So which type of cocktail is your top choice? Leave us a comment, or head over to our Craft Cocktail Club community group on Facebook to voice your opinion, chat cocktail theory, and share recipes.

And of course, don’t forget to explore the A Bar Above shop for everything you need to make Margaritas, Daiquiris, and more!