I would tell you that I wasn’t on the lookout for another margarita recipe, but I think both of us know me better than that by now. Meet the Italian Margarita! She’s the sweet and sassy new addition to your home cocktail repertoire.
Don’t have a cocktail repertoire? This Italian Margarita recipe is an easy, low-risk and high-reward place to start!
An Italian Margarita is a twist on a standard margarita cocktail made with tequila and fresh lime juice. However, instead of an orange liqueur like Cointreau, an Italian margarita uses an Italian liqueur like limoncello, Aperol, or amaretto.
For reasons I will explain momentarily, I opted to make this Italian Margarita with amaretto, an almond liqueur.
An Italian Margarita is smooth and sweet (but not too sweet), and if you follow this recipe, you won’t need to make any ingredients like simple syrup in advance. You can whip it up at moment’s notice!
If you’ve been to Olive Garden or Margaritaville lately, you may have seen an Italian margarita on the menu. Maybe you’ve tried it. This Italian Margarita is 1,000% better than either of those.
Like my Skinny Margarita, instead of the yucky, sugary bottled mixes you’ll find in most chain restaurants, this Italian Margarita calls for fresh citrus juices.
It’s balanced, surprisingly boozy, and exactly what you should be sipping this weekend.
What’s in an Italian Margarita
Let’s begin with the foundation of any good margarita…tequila.
Tequila—Which to Choose for Margaritas <—Start Here
For margaritas, I like to use one of two types of tequila: silver or reposado.
Silver tequila is my usual go-to. It’s clean and crisp. If you are worried about tequila flavor overwhelming a margarita, this is a good option.
Reposado tequila (reposado means “rested”) has been aged for at least 60 days. The aging imparts flavors of vanilla and oak. If you want your tequila to have a more robust flavor or like the idea of oaky/vanilla-y notes in your margarita, it’s a lovely choice.
Fun fact: At 1 year or longer, the tequila becomes known as añjeo tequila. Its aged flavor is even more pronounced.
If I had my pick of tequilas, for this Italian Margarita I recommend reposado tequila. The rounder, lightly caramel-y notes are a lovely profile in the drink. That said, silver tequila is still fantastic in this recipe. If that’s what you have or prefer overall, it’s a good choice too.
OK, Now That We’ve Talked About Tequila…
Here’s what else you need to make an Italian Margarita:
I chose to make this Italian Margarita with amaretto instead of other Italian liqueurs for a very important reason: amaretto is sweet. That means that (as in this St. Germain Cocktail recipe), you don’t need to add any additional simple syrup or sugar to the recipe for it to taste balanced.
- Fresh Lemon and Lime Juice.
It was important to me to make this Italian Margarita without sour mix. Store-bought sour mix is cloyingly sweet, and making it from scratch isn’t always something I have the foresight to do.
Since homemade sour mix contains both lemon AND lime juice, adding some of each, in combination with the sweet amaretto, created the same effect. It’s bright and refreshing.
How to Make an Italian Margarita
Once you have your ingredients gathered, it’s as simple as piling it all into a cocktail shaker with ice, then shaking it up!
A few pointers:
- You can serve this margarita on the rocks, but we preferred it served up, like a martini. Hello, happy!
- If you’d like to rim the glasses, use a mix of salt and sugar. Sugar only was too sweet, while salt only overpowered the drink.
- For a pitcher, mix all the ingredients together, then shake them with ice just before serving.
Snacking and Sipping—What to Serve with Italian Margaritas
Because of the sweet almond notes of the amaretto, this Italian Margarita is fit for just about any occasion. It’s not strictly “Mexican,” nor is it strictly “Italian.” I can see it fitting well in just about any gathering, from bridal showers to barbecues.
Favorite Appetizer Pairings to Go with Italian Margaritas
- Pineapple Shrimp Kabobs
- Crab Artichoke Toasts
- Cream Cheese Ball
- Spicy Shrimp Guacamole Bites
- Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Bites
Still Thirsty? More Margarita Recipes
For the Margaritas:
- 1 1/2 ounces tequila about 3 tablespoons
- 1 ounce amaretto liqueur about 2 tablespoons
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice about 1/2 small lemon
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice about 1 small lime
To rim the glass:
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Lemon wedge
- Rim the glass: On a small plate, mix together the sugar and salt. Rub a lemon wedge around the top edge of your glass to moisten it, then dip the glass into the sugar-salt mixture so that it sticks, tapping all the way around.
- For one (or two) drinks: Fill a small cocktail shaker with ice. Add the tequila, amaretto, lemon juice, and lime juice. Tightly close and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds (it's longer than you think). Strain into the rimmed glass. Enjoy immediately.
- For a pitcher: In the bottom of a pitcher, stir together the tequila, amaretto, lemon juice, and lime juice (do not add ice to the pitcher). Serve immediately or place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the pitcher and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Shake just before serving.
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