We are an importer, exporter & wholesaler of alcoholic beverages & food with type 14 public warehouse & fulfillment service

Ask a Bartender: Is Triple Sec Needed for Margaritas?

As one of the world’s most popular cocktails, there are a number of ways people can enjoy their Margaritas. From the classic build to endless fruit-flavored and spicy variations, there truly is a Marg for everyone.

When it comes to what actually qualifies as a Margarita, there are technically three mandatory ingredients: tequila, lime juice, and triple sec, an orange liqueur. But what if you don’t have any triple sec on hand?

To find out more about triple sec’s role in the Margarita — along with what can be used as a substitute — we tapped Janice Bailon, head bartender at Brooklyn’s pan-Latin-inspired cocktail bar, Leyenda, for details.

Is triple sec needed for Margaritas?

To balance the cocktail’s acidity, triple sec is absolutely necessary for traditional Margaritas, according to Bailon.

“Without triple sec, we fall into a different cocktail category, which is the sour,” she explains. That’s why she argues that the well-known Tommy’s Margarita isn’t necessarily a Margarita at all, as its build swaps out triple sec in favor of agave nectar.

“I love a Tommy’s variation, and I love the intention of it to be agave-forward, but the categorial makeup of [that] cocktail lies within the sours family.” For this reason, Bailon refers to her Tommy’s Margaritas as simply “The Tommy’s.”

Triple sec, though, is necessary for more reasons than just recipe’s sake. Traditionally, orange has always been a classic pairing for any agave-based spirit, providing a sweeter complement without overpowering the notes of the agave. In Margaritas, the inclusion of triple sec provides a luscious, warm citric note that counterbalances the lime juice’s high acidity. Considering the relatively low ABV of most triple secs and orange liqueurs, the orange flavoring isn’t as “juice-forward,” which allows the tequila to shine. But which triple sec is the best to use?

“If we’re talking about classic triple sec, I love Cointreau,” Bailon explains. “But I also think that Cointreau can be a little dry, so sometimes I’ll sneak a little agave or simple into that if I’m looking for something that’s going to be a little juicier.”

For an even richer Margarita, Bailon recommends using Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao Liqueur, or Leopold Bros’ offering. If you’re looking for something even heavier on the orange, Merlet is a wonderful option, as well as the plethora of orange liqueurs and triple secs produced by Giffard.

Can I use orange juice instead of triple sec for Margaritas?

While orange juice may offer a luscious citrus element traditionally provided by triple sec, the two can’t just be used interchangeably.

“By using orange juice, you’re no longer making a Margarita — you’re making an orange, lime juice, and tequila,” Bailon argues. Using orange juice as a direct replacement for triple sec or another orange liqueur can also make the quality of your cocktail suffer, Bailon explains. The abundance of sugar present in orange juice can easily overpower the tequila in a Margarita, resulting in an overly sweet, out-of-balance cocktail.

“The orange juice itself cannot do the same things as a distilled spirit, and it will also make your drink heavier as you’re using juice instead of a spirit component, “ she explains.

Can you use simple syrup instead of triple sec?

Just like orange juice, you can’t replace triple sec with simple syrup and still call your cocktail a Margarita. By subbing in simple for triple sec, you would technically be preparing a Tequila Daiquiri, not a classic Marg.

“What we’re looking at here is, again, moving away from the original recipe of what makes a Margarita and turning it into a different drink. There’s nothing wrong with a Tequila Daiquiri — it’s just not a Margarita.”

*Image retrieved from Heleno via stock.adobe.com

The article Ask a Bartender: Is Triple Sec Needed for Margaritas? appeared first on VinePair.

Leave a Comment

Resize text-+=