How to Fix a Bad Margarita: List of problems with solution

How to fix a bad margarita

It’s very easy to mess up the margarita. You may even have followed the recipe to the letter, and it’s still not right. This is a very common problem, and in this article, you’ll learn why and how to save your precious margarita!

To fix a bad margarita, you’ll first need to determine which taste you don’t like. Usually, there is too much or not enough of a certain taste. If it’s not enough, you just add more of what’s lacking. However, if there is too much of a taste, you’ll need to add more of a counteracting taste.

Now, if you’re wondering what’s counteracting the taste you’re having a problem with, I’ve listed them all in this article. But firstly, an introduction to why the margarita is made the way it is!

Ingredients and Their Function

Ingredients in a margarita

Firstly, I just want to give an introduction to the ingredients in a margarita.

The margarita is one of the most famous cocktails in the world, and that is not without reason. People love this drink! However, you may not be one of those people at the moment, but give the cocktail a chance! It may just not be balanced the right way.

The margarita belongs to the sour cocktail family, which all follows the same mix ratio. This ratio is what all of the margarita recipes are based on with slight adjustments. Chances are you are following one of these adjusted recipes as they are dominating the internet…

Well then, is this what’s causing your problems? It may be! But probably not the biggest factor. However, the official margarita recipe, yes, you read that right! There is actually an official recipe of the classic margarita, published by the IBA. And it would be reasonable to think this is the one most people would prefer?

There is a clear answer to that question tho. In my opinion, many of the recipes online are really good. There is a reason the adjustments were made… The important part is that you find one that you are happy with, that’s all that matters to us at Drink Mastery!

Let’s get back to the sour cocktail ratio, once you know it, suddenly the margarita recipe will make so much sense! And it’s much easier to identify where the problem lies with your cocktail. All margarita types follow this system!

The ratio is very simple, it’s just 2-1-1. Two parts liquor- one part sweet – one part sour.

Here’s how it applies to the classic margarita:

Base liquor:100% agave tequila
Sweet part:Triple sec (orange liqueur)
Sour part:Freshly squeezed lime juice

That’s it! If you compare it to the official recipe by IBA, you will notice it differs a bit. This is just the foundation and then they have done some modifications to it.

The ratio in itself is supposed to make a perfect balance between the tastes. However, you may actually follow the recipe to the letter and end up with a margarita that still doesn’t satisfy your tastebuds! Why is this?

Why Recipes Can’t be Blindly Followed

Why recipes can't be blindly followed.

Here is why sometimes recipes just don’t live up to the expectation. This is as true for cocktails as it’s for food! Since this article is for margaritas, that’s what we’ll use in the examples. But this applies to all cocktails and foods.

The Ingredients’ Origin:

The lime is the sour ingredient in the margarita, and not all limes come from the same farm. Not even the same country. There are a bunch of countries and brands selling limes, and they won’t have the exact same taste!

The same is true for the triple sec (orange liqueur), there are a lot of different brands producing it, and it varies a lot how sweet it is. Many of the recipes you’ll find are using the triple sec called Cointreau. If you’re using a different type, it may be less or more sweet than what the recipe calls for. If this is the case try to compensate for it.

Tequila! With hundreds and maybe thousands of registered producers of it in Mexico, they won’t all taste the same.


This is only relevant for the lime in our case. But food tastes different at different times of the year.

So you may extract the exact amount of lime juice that the recipe calls for, but the acidity will vary throughout the year. Meaning that sometimes you’ll need less and sometimes more.

Personal Preferences:

Everyone has different preferences. Something that you think is perfect, can be way too sweet for someone else. This is also true for the recipes, these have been adjusted to the writer’s taste.


Okay, so that’s some different factors influence why you might not be satisfied with your margarita! Now it’s time to do something about it! This is process is called sampling.

How to fix a bad margarita

Sampling involves among other things to check that there are sufficient amounts of all the ingredients. This is when you taste your margarita and decide if it needs more sourness etc. We’re now trying to find the perfect balance between the 5 tastes! Which are sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami.

The perfect balance is something that gets influenced by personal preferences. However, once you’ve found it for yourself, you’ll most likely end up drunk and hangover tomorrow.

Note: when sampling you run the risk of taste saturation. This means that over time you’ll get used to the unbalance in your margarita. The longer your sample, the bigger is the risk. Something that you can do to prevent it, to some extent, is gargling water and cleaning your palate after each time you taste it.

Now, it’s time… We can’t let that margarita of yours sit any longer! Here is a list of problems, with answers to all your problems!

How to Neutralize the Taste of Alcohol Margarita

How to neutralize the taste of alcohol in a margarita.

By far the most common problem people are facing with their margarita is that it’s too much taste of alcohol. Therefore I’ve included a way to neutralize the taste:

To neutralize the taste of alcohol in your margarita, you should first try adding more dilution. The best way to do this is simply pouring it back into the tin of the shaker, fill it with ice, and shake. The longer you shake the more dilution you are adding to the margarita.

Another way of doing it, if you’re serving your margarita on the rocks, is to just let the ice melt for a while.

However, instead of balancing with water. Another way would be to just increase the amount of all the other ingredients.

How to Fix Too Sweet Margarita

It’s not very common that the classic margarita is too sweet, it can happen tho! But it’s more normal for variants of the margarita. The same concept to fix this problem applies to all the variants!

To balance a too-sweet margarita, simply add more lime juice. Start with a few drops, taste, and keep adding slowly. You don’t want to suddenly have a too sour drink. Sourness is counteracting the sweetness and creating a more balanced drink.

If you have some type of bitter ingredient in your margarita variant, adding more of that will also counteract the sweetness!

How to Fix Too Bitter Margarita

Too bitter margarita. How to make margarita less bitter.

A too bitter margarita is no good, and maybe the worst taste to have dominating your margarita. The good thing, however, is that it’s not too hard to balance out!

To fix a too bitter margarita, simply add a few drops of saline. To make the saline solution, mix 1 part of salt with 4 parts of hot water, stir until all the salt is dissolved. Start with a few drops, taste, and keep adding slowly until you’re satisfied. The salt balances against bitterness.

Salt also enhances other flavors, particularly the sweetness. This is perfect for us, as sweetness also counteracts bitterness, therefore starting with the salt is a great solution. However, you don’t want to add salt all day and make it taste like a fish swimming in the Sahara.

If you’re not happy with the amount of bitterness, even after adding saline. Then the next solution is to add more of the sweetness. Which is classic margarita will be the orange liqueur, in your variant it may be agave syrup or something. Be careful, and just add a little bit at a time here as well.

If you do end up with a Sahara fish (too salty), try adding a bit more dilution. Add some water, in that case shaking it is preferred to not ruin the temperature. Or you can increase the amount of all the other ingredients, then the amount of salt in relation to the rest of the margarita will get lower.

How to Fix Too Tart Margarita

A too tart margarita is a common problem and usually comes from the lime juice if that’s your citrus of choice. Fixing it is not a hard thing to do.

A margarita that’s too tart is easily balanced by just adding a bit more sweetener. In general, the sweetener is the orange liqueur. However, in some margarita variants, syrups are used as sweeteners. Start by adding small amounts, taste it, and keep adding slowly, until you’re satisfied.

How to Fix Too Sour Margarita

Too sour margarita! How to make it less sour

If you’re experiencing your margarita is too sour, that’s probably because of too much lime juice. You may have followed the recipe correctly but since lime’s acidity varies this may have caused it to be too sour.

Add more sweetener to balance a too sour margarita. For a classic margarita, that’s the orange liqueur. However, in other variants of the margarita syrups are used as sweeteners, then you’ll add more of that. Start by adding, small amounts, taste it, and keep adding slowly until satisfied.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How to Make Margarita less Strong?

Some people are having problems with too strong margaritas. This is usually in terms of alcohol. I discussed how to fix this earlier in the article, but I can give a bit more information.

To fix a too strong margarita, you’ll have to add more dilution to it. Preferably, this is accomplished by pouring it back into the tin of the shaker, adding ice, and shaking it until you’re satisfied. The longer your shake the more diluted the ice gets.

As I mentioned earlier, you can do it in other ways. If you want you could also increase the amount of all the other ingredients, except the alcohol-based ones. However, if you’re dealing with a classic margarita, shaking or letting the ice melt (if served on rocks) is your best alternative.

If you think the margarita is too strong, even after adding dilution, there are a bunch of variants of the margarita you could try. The variants are usually a bit easier on the alcohol. I have an own article dedicated to the skinny margarita here, which is a less strong variant.

Quick tips: I’ve heard pouring orange juice into the margarita, can be a quick fix. The agave taste from the tequila will get less prominent, however, if you don’t find it drinkable, it’s worth a try 😉

Too Salty Margarita: What to do?

I’ve also touched upon this topic, however, there are some people specifically wondering how to fix a too salty margarita. So let’s look into it!

To make your margarita less salty, increasing dilution is the answer. There is something called to “lift it out of intensity”, meaning, in this case, you either want to add more water or increase the amount of all the ingredients in the margarita, except the salt.

You could also be talking about the salt rim on the glass. If you want less of that, you could ask for your margarita glass to be only half-rimmed. Then you can choose if you want salt in your sip or not. This is a common problem, therefore many bartenders will do this as a normal procedure.

That’s it! Hope we managed to save your margarita! 🙂

Recent Posts