How to Make a Frozen Margarita, Texas’s Favorite Summer Cocktail, at Home 

You need a blender (obviously), but also the right tequila-to-ice ratio

July 28, 2023 6:28 am
Frozen Carriqui Margarita (left) and Goode Company’s Damn Goode Margarita.
Frozen Carriqui Margarita (left) and Goode Company’s Damn Goode Margarita
Carriqui/Goode Co. Kitchen & Cantina

When the temperature reaches triple digits in Texas, there’s not a lot you can do to cool off, short of jumping in a pool or decamping to Colorado. But based on the volume of frozen Margaritas served this time of year, it’s easy to believe that they hold the answer — or at least provide a temporary cure to the injustices doled out by this unholy season. Unlike some classic cocktails, the Margarita doesn’t have a precise origin date or agreed-upon inventor. The same goes for the frozen version, and it’s likely that people have been blending ice with tequila and lime since blenders hit the mainstream. But the advent of the frozen Margarita machine? That’s one thing we do know.

The now-ubiquitous machine got its start at Mariano’s restaurant in Dallas in 1971. Founder Mariano Martinez had just opened and needed a quick way to serve thirsty crowds. As the story goes, the first few days of business were so busy, and the blenders behind the bar so finicky, that bartenders started walking out. Soon after, Martinez had a eureka moment when he stopped into a local 7-Eleven store and witnessed Slurpee machines serving smooth frozen drinks. Determined to follow suit, he bought an old soft-serve machine and tweaked it to fit his needs, and the restaurant began pouring perfect frozen Margaritas every time. The bartenders were happy, the customers were happy and Martinez kicked off a trend that’s still going strong 50 years later. (That first Mariano’s machine is now a piece of treasured history — you can see it on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.)

You don’t have to look far to find frozen Margaritas in Texas. Nearly every Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurant serves them, and the cocktail is a mainstay at patio bars and outdoor venues across the state. Some places enlist blenders, but given their noise levels and inconsistencies — humans are still responsible for measuring out the ingredients and ice — most high-volume bars and restaurants opt for the reliable machine.

Carriqui in San Antonio estimates that on a typical summer day, it makes about 150 traditional Margaritas and more than 100 frozens. All in, that’s 1,750 Margaritas per week and 7,500 per month. Or, in technical terms, a lot of Margaritas. “The frozen Margarita is such an essential summer staple because it’s that ‘special something’ to help with bearing the triple digit heat here in Texas,” says Carriqui chef Jaime Gonzalez. “It revives, refreshes and cools you down, all while serving as a delightful complement to those ingredients that are typically in season at this time of year.”

Stuck in Texas With No Pool? Here’s Where to Rent One.
From a private, cliffside oasis to Insta-ready spreads for 20 people

Investing in a Margarita machine for your house is probably one of the smarter ROI decisions you could make. But most people make frozen drinks in a blender, a practice that can result in a Margarita that’s either too watered down or littered with mini icebergs. The Carriqui bar team says that laying down a base of high-quality tequila leaves more room for dilution — aim for about 30% water — without the cocktail losing its edge.

Houston’s Goode Company also enlists Margarita machines across its concepts, including at Goode Co. Kitchen & Cantina. But if a machine’s not in the cards, beverage director Westin Galleymore says the trick is finding the right ratio between liquor, sugar and dilution. “Sugar creates body, and if dialed in correctly, you get a velvety smooth texture,” he says. “Dilution is needed, otherwise your drink will not freeze and just be a really cold liquid. Too much, though, and you’ve now got shaved ice with the booze separating away.” The right ratio of tequila, sugar and ice will ensure a good consistency that’s neither liquid nor snow cone. “You can get super fancy here and get a small device that will tell you what your brix levels [the percentage of sugar dissolved in water] are, but the most fun and rewarding way is through trial and error,” he adds.

Making frozen Margaritas at home won’t change the temperature outside, but it will make you feel cooler — and happier — and sometimes that’s all you need to turn summer malaise into a party. So grab a bottle of tequila and some limes, and give these bartender-approved recipes a whirl in the blender.

Frozen Carriqui Margarita

Servings: 4

  • ¾ cup blanco tequila
  • ½ cup triple sec
  • ¾ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. agave syrup
  • 4 cups ice
    1. Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Divide among salt- or Tajin-rimmed glasses.

Goode Company’s Damn Goode Margarita

Servings: 10

  • 2 cups blanco tequila
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup light agave syrup
  • ½ cup orange liqueur
  • 2 cups crushed ice
    1. Combine all ingredients in a blender (a Vitamix if you have it), and let it rip until smooth. Divide among salt-rimmed glasses.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.