The Best Tools For Making Margaritas, According To Bartenders

·On Assignment For HuffPost
·2 min read
(Photo: Merethe Svarstad Eeg / EyeEm via Getty Images)
(Photo: Merethe Svarstad Eeg / EyeEm via Getty Images)

If the margaritas served at your favorite watering hole always seem to taste better than the ones you make at home, maybe it’s not just the ingredients or your technique — it could also be the equipment you’re using. Whether they’re making the cocktail classic or frozen, mixologists have their own “secret weapon” bar kits that include the best tools to help them get the job done right. We talked to experts to get the 411 on the best gear for your margs, whether you’re drinking them for Cinco de Mayo or year-round.

Meet the margarita experts

“The margarita is part of the cocktail family known as daisies, which means it’s a sour cocktail whose sweetness comes from a liqueur, which in this case is Cointreau,” Ivy Mix told HuffPost. Mix, author of “Spirits of Latin America: A Celebration of Culture and Cocktails,” owns Latin cocktail bar Leyenda and wine and spirits shop Fiasco!, both in Brooklyn, New York. “Most booze history is a little blurry, because — surprise— people were drinking, but the margarita probably came from northern Mexico or Texas before it became popularized in America. When made correctly, it’s the most delicious drink in the world,” she said.

“Everybody knows the marg — it’s a signature cocktail that’s been everywhere from weddings to family parties to taco Tuesdays,” Anali Martinez Gonzalez, the tastemaker known as The Nueva Latina, told HuffPost.

“It was the first cocktail I ever learned to make, when I was 18 years old,” mixologist and agave spirits specialist Carlos Ruiz told HuffPost. “From that day on, it was my favorite cocktail.”

Maxwell Reis is beverage director at Los Angeles’ Gracias Madre, where they often sell more than 1,000 margaritas a day, including a $100 version made with vintage spirits and served in a 1960s-era glass. “Man, I love a marg,” he told HuffPost. “Nobody orders one when they’re in a bad mood, and you feel good when you have one in your hand. It’s a joyous cocktail.”

And then there’s Susan Garcia, cofounder of Create-a-Cocktail, which hosts virtual events and private parties, in addition to selling curated cocktail kits.

Here are tools that help these experts make the perfect margarita.

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A good paring knife

Reis said that Swiss knife manufacturer Kuhn Rinkon makes a<a href="https://amzn.to/3nu5DH6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> $12 paring knife</a> that’s perfect for any number of bar tasks, including trimming lime peels for garnishes.<br /><br /><strong><a href="https://amzn.to/3nu5DH6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the Kuhn Rinkon knife for $12</a></strong>
Reis said that Swiss knife manufacturer Kuhn Rinkon makes a $12 paring knife that’s perfect for any number of bar tasks, including trimming lime peels for garnishes.

Get the Kuhn Rinkon knife for $12

Citrus peeler

“I also love my basic $8 <a href="https://www.oxo.com/oxo-citrus-peeler.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">OXO Good Grips citrus prep peeler and zester</a>,” Reis said.<br /><br /><strong><a href="https://amzn.to/3vsvOko" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the OXO Good Grips citrus prep peeler and zester for $7.99</a></strong>

A solid juicer

The experts we spoke with were adamant that only fresh lime juice can make a perfect marg. <br /><br />Mix loves the $15 <a href="https://amzn.to/3u7b7u4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Rabbit manual cocktail juicer</a>, also known as an elbow juicer, for smaller jobs, and prefers the commercial-grade citrus tool called the <a href="https://go.skimresources.com?id=38395X987171&xs=1&xcust=margs-KristenAiken_04-28-21-&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.williams-sonoma.com%2Fproducts%2Forangex-juicer%2F%3Fsku%3D4283867%26cm_ven%3DPLA%26cm_ite%3D4283867%26cm_cat%3DGoogle%26cm_pla%3DLocal%26gclid%3DCj0KCQjw1PSDBhDbARIsAPeTqrc9Qb5ZOZSzioU4UY21oe8pPyfwa7rBoUCuW40xaVIhOkRq4CrK3jsaAtvSEALw_wcB" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">OrangeX</a>, which sells for about $180, for bigger jobs.<br /><br /><strong><a href="https://amzn.to/3u7b7u4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the Rabbit manual juicer for $14.99</a></strong><br /><strong><a href="https://go.skimresources.com?id=38395X987171&xs=1&xcust=margs-KristenAiken_04-28-21-&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.williams-sonoma.com%2Fproducts%2Forangex-juicer%2F%3Fsku%3D4283867%26cm_ven%3DPLA%26cm_ite%3D4283867%26cm_cat%3DGoogle%26cm_pla%3DLocal%26gclid%3DCj0KCQjw1PSDBhDbARIsAPeTqrc9Qb5ZOZSzioU4UY21oe8pPyfwa7rBoUCuW40xaVIhOkRq4CrK3jsaAtvSEALw_wcB" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the OrangeX juicer for $179.95</a></strong>
The experts we spoke with were adamant that only fresh lime juice can make a perfect marg.

Mix loves the $15 Rabbit manual cocktail juicer, also known as an elbow juicer, for smaller jobs, and prefers the commercial-grade citrus tool called the OrangeX, which sells for about $180, for bigger jobs.

Get the Rabbit manual juicer for $14.99
Get the OrangeX juicer for $179.95

Jiggers

Reis keeps two jiggers behind the bar, both sourced from <a href="https://www.cocktailkingdom.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=leopold%20jigger" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cocktail Kingdom</a>. First (on the left) is a <a href="https://www.cocktailkingdom.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=leopold%20jigger" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Leopold jigger</a>, starting at $19. Because it’s short and round, it can be easier to wield. On the right, you'll see a <a href="https://www.cocktailkingdom.com/all-barware/jiggers/japanese-style-jigger-1oz-2oz-stainless-steel" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Japanese jigger</a>, starting at $8, which is elongated and precise.<br /><br />Whichever type you buy, be sure to use it every time, he said: “Especially with a simple cocktail like this, there’s nothing hide behind, so you need precision to keep your components well-balanced.” <br /><br /><strong><a href="https://www.cocktailkingdom.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=leopold%20jigger" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the Leopold jigger for $19<br /></a><a href="https://www.cocktailkingdom.com/all-barware/jiggers/japanese-style-jigger-1oz-2oz-stainless-steel" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the Japanese jigger for $8</a></strong>
Reis keeps two jiggers behind the bar, both sourced from Cocktail Kingdom. First (on the left) is a Leopold jigger, starting at $19. Because it’s short and round, it can be easier to wield. On the right, you'll see a Japanese jigger , starting at $8, which is elongated and precise.

Whichever type you buy, be sure to use it every time, he said: “Especially with a simple cocktail like this, there’s nothing hide behind, so you need precision to keep your components well-balanced.”

Get the Leopold jigger for $19
Get the Japanese jigger for $8

A shaker (conventional or unconventional)

A shaker is essential for an on-the-rocks margarita. “I love the $40 stainless steel<a href="https://amzn.to/2R2fasO" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Boston shaker from the Fortessa line by Charlie Joly</a>,” Mix said. “Some shakers have a seal that’s too shallow, but I like it when the smaller tin slides farther into the big tin, which this one does, so I get a stronger seal.”<br /><br /><strong><a href="https://amzn.to/2R2fasO" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the Fortessa shaker for $40.31<br /><br /></a></strong>Ruiz  offered a hack for the shakerless would-be mixologist: “You can use a mason jar or a Yeti mug, too — just anything that will hold a seal.”<br /><br /><a href="https://amzn.to/3eCciLs" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><strong>Get the Yeti tumbler for $29.98</strong></a>
A shaker is essential for an on-the-rocks margarita. “I love the $40 stainless steel Boston shaker from the Fortessa line by Charlie Joly,” Mix said. “Some shakers have a seal that’s too shallow, but I like it when the smaller tin slides farther into the big tin, which this one does, so I get a stronger seal.”

Get the Fortessa shaker for $40.31

Ruiz offered a hack for the shakerless would-be mixologist: “You can use a mason jar or a Yeti mug, too — just anything that will hold a seal.”

Get the Yeti tumbler for $29.98

A good strainer

Reis uses a Koriko Hawthorne strainer for most bar tasks, but also uses a similarly priced tea strainer for finer tasks.<br /><br /><strong><a href="https://amzn.to/2R9Ogix" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the Koriko Hawthorne strainer for $15.99</a></strong><br /><strong><a href="https://amzn.to/3nwc5NC" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the 3-piece cocktail/tea strainers for $11.99</a></strong>
Reis uses a Koriko Hawthorne strainer for most bar tasks, but also uses a similarly priced tea strainer for finer tasks.

Get the Koriko Hawthorne strainer for $15.99
Get the 3-piece cocktail/tea strainers for $11.99

Great ice cubes

Whether a marg is served frozen or on the rocks, the perfect ice cube is an essential component. “I’ve done the comparisons, and the best ice I can find anywhere is from the <a href="https://www.7-eleven.com/locations/tx/austin/5101-n-lamar-24008" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7-Eleven at the corner of Lamar and 51st in Austin</a>,” Gonzalez said. <br /><br />If you’re far from Austin at the moment, you may need to make your own ice. For home ice-making, Ruiz favors <a href="https://www.wintersmiths.com/collections/shop" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Wintersmiths ice molds</a>, which start at $40. They’re engineered for directional freezing, a process that pushes air bubbles and impurities through a hole at the bottom of the tray. Experts swear by the result — clear ice cubes that melt more slowly and don’t dilute your drink.<br /><br /><strong><a href="https://www.wintersmiths.com/collections/shop/products/small-sphere-shape-tray" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the Wintersmiths Small Sphere Shape Tray for $40</a></strong>
Whether a marg is served frozen or on the rocks, the perfect ice cube is an essential component. “I’ve done the comparisons, and the best ice I can find anywhere is from the 7-Eleven at the corner of Lamar and 51st in Austin,” Gonzalez said.

If you’re far from Austin at the moment, you may need to make your own ice. For home ice-making, Ruiz favors Wintersmiths ice molds, which start at $40. They’re engineered for directional freezing, a process that pushes air bubbles and impurities through a hole at the bottom of the tray. Experts swear by the result — clear ice cubes that melt more slowly and don’t dilute your drink.

Get the Wintersmiths Small Sphere Shape Tray for $40

A solid blender

If a frozen marg is your fave, you’ll need a blender. “For bars, there’s no better blender than a commercial Vitamix,” Mix said. The top-of-the line model is <a href="https://go.skimresources.com?id=38395X987171&xs=1&xcust=margs-KristenAiken_04-28-21-&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vitamix.com%2Fus%2Fen_us%2FCommercial%2FProducts%2FBeverage-Blenders%2FThe-Quiet-One%23photos" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The Quiet One</a>, which retails for ... a lot. <br /><br /><strong><a href="https://go.skimresources.com?id=38395X987171&xs=1&xcust=margs-KristenAiken_04-28-21-&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vitamix.com%2Fus%2Fen_us%2FCommercial%2FProducts%2FBeverage-Blenders%2FThe-Quiet-One%23photos" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get "The Quite One" Vitamix for $1,339</a><br /><br /></strong>For home use, something much less fancy is just fine. “We love the plain old Oster, which sells for about $25,” Garcia said.<br /><br /><strong><a href="https://amzn.to/32Xsp0E" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the Oster Classic Series Blender for $24.75</a></strong>
If a frozen marg is your fave, you’ll need a blender. “For bars, there’s no better blender than a commercial Vitamix,” Mix said. The top-of-the line model is The Quiet One, which retails for ... a lot.

Get "The Quite One" Vitamix for $1,339

For home use, something much less fancy is just fine. “We love the plain old Oster, which sells for about $25,” Garcia said.

Get the Oster Classic Series Blender for $24.75

A Margaritaville machine (seriously)

Gonzalez sang the praises of her <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Margaritaville-Bahamas-Frozen-Concoction-No-Brainer/dp/B00QZ5CV10?ref_=ast_sto_dp" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker</a>, which sells for a little over $200. “You put the ice in at the top, and it shreds the ice before it blends with the liquid, which gives it more of a slushy feel. It has a better texture and taste.”<br /><br /><strong><a href="https://amzn.to/3xydOqj" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker starting at $235</a></strong>
Gonzalez sang the praises of her Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker, which sells for a little over $200. “You put the ice in at the top, and it shreds the ice before it blends with the liquid, which gives it more of a slushy feel. It has a better texture and taste.”

Get the Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker starting at $235

And of course, glasses to drink from

Garcia keeps it simple with rocks glasses from Ikea, which start at $3 each. Gonzalez uses Crate & Barrel margarita glasses, but her husband’s hack is to keep his frozen margs cold in his Yeti tumbler, which you'll remember doubles as a shaker.<br /><br /><strong><a href="https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/frasera-whiskey-glass-00208788/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the Ikea Frasera rocks glass for $2.99</a></strong><br /><br /><strong><a href="https://go.skimresources.com?id=38395X987171&xs=1&xcust=margs-KristenAiken_04-28-21-&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.crateandbarrel.com%2Fglory-margarita-glass%2Fs193453" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get the Crate & Barrel Glory margarita glass for $4.95</a></strong>
Garcia keeps it simple with rocks glasses from Ikea, which start at $3 each. Gonzalez uses Crate & Barrel margarita glasses, but her husband’s hack is to keep his frozen margs cold in his Yeti tumbler, which you'll remember doubles as a shaker.

Get the Ikea Frasera rocks glass for $2.99

Get the Crate & Barrel Glory margarita glass for $4.95

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.