Pitcher Cocktails: Margaritas, Two Ways!

Buffett would totally approve

While the rest of the APW staff may have spent their summers sipping Juleps and other regional cocktails, the only drink I get out of bed for in the summer is a well-made Margarita. To be clear, I will drink any kind of Margarita concoction you put in front of me (including that one time I ordered one on tap at a Monster Truck Rally. Do not recommend). But freshly squeezed Margaritas with actual lime juice are worth every bit of extra work put into them.

Here, we have two recipes. One is the go-to classic for Margarita making. The other is the favorite in Meg’s house. That recipe leaves out the Triple Sec, and sweetens with agave instead. It’s a method learned by living near Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, which is world famous for its tequila selection. This recipe is for those of you who want to name call (and taste, unblended) your top shelf tequila in your margarita—or just like them more tart and less sweet.

We’ve already written about how to prepare cocktails in big batches in advance, so review that if you need to. All cocktail recipes are essentially ratios, and just like with our previous drinks, we’ll give you the recipe for one cocktail (which one should always have, in case of I-need-this-tonight emergencies) and then the basic ratio for scaling up. (Please, however, read on for safety notes regarding the making of this particular cocktail in bulk. Because oddly, there are safety notes.)

MARGARITA RECIPE (Classic Version)

3 oz tequila
2 oz Triple Sec
1 oz fresh unsweetened lime juice


3 parts tequila, 2 parts Triple Sec, 1 part fresh unsweetened lime juice


300 oz tequila
200 oz Triple Sec
100 oz fresh unsweetened lime juice

Margarita Recipe (Meg’s Version)

2 oz tequila
1 oz fresh unsweetened lime juice (approximately one lime, depending on the size)
.5 to 1 oz agave syrup

Margarita Ratio

2 parts tequila, 1 part fresh unsweetened lime juice, 1/2 or 1 part agave syrup

For 100 Cocktails you need

200 oz tequila
100 oz lime juice
50 to 100 oz agave syrup

You may need to do some math at the store when you are buying your booze. Some spirits are sold in ounces, others in liters, others in quarts, pints, or gallons. We highly encourage using this smartphone app or this one, or this website for your conversions.

Prepping In Advance

If you’ll be prepping your own cocktails, the idea of juicing a hundred limes the week before your wedding probably sounds like a nightmare. Never fear, we’ve got a hack for that! You can freeze freshly squeezed lime juice in ice cube trays beforehand, squeeze a little at a time, and then store them in plastic bags in your freezer until you’re ready to get mixing.

A note about limes and lime burn

If you are juicing your own limes right before your wedding, beware of lime burn, ESPECIALLY if you’re going to be outside for your wedding or the days before/after. Lime burn, a.k.a. phytophotodermatitis, is caused by a material from a light-sensitizing plant (i.e., lime juice) getting on skin that is then exposed to sunlight. Exposure to the sun starts a chemical reaction between the UV rays, plant juice, and skin, which can result in varying degrees of burns. Other plants that can cause phytophotodermatitis include parsnips, celery, and lemons.

To avoid lime burn, make sure you wash your hands very well before going outside. Or, if you’re juicing your limes outside, like for a beach or backyard party, don’t do it with your bare hands—use a juicer, and/or rubber gloves. Washing your hands alone, won’t always save you. Meg and Lucy have both juiced limes outdoors with disastrous consequences (like, emergency doctor’s visits to try to figure out the swollen hands and spreading chemical burns), so please, learn from their mistakes. Lime burn is no fun, and it’s really no fun on your wedding day.

Salt or No Salt?

I take my margaritas with salt (and lots of it.) To rim your glasses like we did here, make sure to set aside extra limes so that you have something to moisten the rims of your glass with, in addition to coarse salt (regular salt won’t cut it.) If you want to boost your garnish game, cut your limes into wheels instead of wedges. As this tutorial points out, lime wheels are purely for show (rather than for adding flavor.) But I’m okay with that.

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