I love a good margarita. Frozen, on the rocks, flavored, original… I’m a fan of them all. But what happens when you take that same formula (spirit, citrus, and orange liqueuer) and change out the base spirit? Turns out, it works fantastically — just two tweaks to the recipe, and this classic cocktail gets a whole new life.
The first tweak is to change out the spirit, and in this case we’re going with gin.
If you think about it, a gin is a pretty close relative to a blanco tequila. They both are clear spirits that don’t have any aging characteristics, and both have a very herbal and sometimes earthy flavor profile. But where tequila almost always doubles down on the agave, gin has a much wider range of flavors available to experiment with.
If you’re going to give a gin-based margarita a whirl, I’d recommend sticking to the American style gins, as those typically have less of a juniper-forward presentation and tend towards the earthier and more herbal flavors. That profile works well with a margarita, providing some balance to the otherwise very bright and bitter lime juice and orange liqueur.
One of my favorites in this category is the Waterloo Old Yaupon Gin from Treaty Oak, which has some amazing citrus flavors that it brings to the party (and Treaty Oak’s Yaupon Margarita is one of the best examples we’ve seen).
I should note that you’re not limited to only the American style gins. If you don’t prefer this style of gin, a London Dry or other more juniper-forward gins do still work. Or if you want something more floral, Treaty Oak also has their Waterloo No. 9 Gin that layers on the lavender (this version is my wife’s pick for sipping during Kentucky Derby day).
The second tweak is to use the mint simple syrup that we talked about earlier in the week. That mint adds a whole new layer of complexity and flavor that really makes this cocktail stand out and, honestly, might even pull it out of the “margarita” category into its own thing. The trick is to cut the orange liqueur in favor of the mint simple syrup to avoid over sweetening the cocktail, otherwise it just becomes a big glass of sugar.
- 2 oz Gin (again, I recommend American gin, but you can use any)
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz orange liqueur (Cointreau)
- 1/2 oz mint simple syrup
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker, shake well and pour over ice.
This is, without a doubt, my preferred version of a margarita. Give it a shot yourself, and let us know in the comments if you find a way to make it even better!