Orange Margaritas

Orange Margarita cocktail recipe-4

I don’t mind spending part of my winter this year in New York. Even though it was one of the coldest winters in history, and on the first day of spring, we had a snowstorm, the beautiful snow blanketed everything in a thick white layer, which reflects the light and kept my mood cheery and optimistic. It rarely snows in Paris and la grisaille (the gray skies, sans la neige — or without snow), can augment the sullen mood around town. And the only people who you’ll see braving the cold are the hardy smokers, God love ‘em, clustered in the doorways of buildings and businesses, trying to get as many puffs in as possible before they can’t take it anymore and head back inside to the cozy warmth, with the rest of us.

Orange Margaritas

As much as I give kudos to the locavore movement, it’s not easy to be an active participant during a New York winter. When I lived in California, even during the winter months, the markets were a colorful riot of citrus from local farms; bright orange tangerines, cheerfully sweet Meyer lemons, and lusty blood oranges, bursting with intense, sweet-tart flavor. Back in Paris, the markets are heaped with clementines from Corsica and Spain, oranges from Malta, and pink grapefruits from, of all places, Florida.

Orange Margaritas

Here in New York City, climbing over drifts of snow to get to shop, the markets only carry locally produced fruits and vegetables, so the selection is pretty limited. And right now, the stands are down to apples, and apples, and more apples. As much as I like apples, they’re not the fruit that first comes to mind to use as a base of margaritas. And because it’s one of my least-favorite appliances to clean, I don’t have a juicer, to juice them. Although a long time ago, I had an outstanding apple margarita at somewhere whose name escapes me* – I want to say that it was somewhere in the American southwest, near Santa Fe? But I think it may have been made with bottled juice. (With all the apple cider at the local markets, though, perhaps I should give them a try myself.)

Orange Margaritas

At a natural foods store I saw a mound of Cara Cara oranges, which are navel oranges with a blushing pink juice, and thought it’d be nice to make cocktails from them. So I squeezed ‘em up, along with a couple of limes, and added tequila and Triple Sec to the bright juice. I didn’t have a shaker, so I stirred it all together in a pitcher. And lo and behold, I found the perfect antidote for winter, and raised a glass to mark the end of it.

Orange Margaritas

Orange Margaritas
Print Recipe
Four servings
I made these in a pitcher and served them over ice cubes. You can also put the mixture in a cocktail shaker with some ice and give it some good shakes to get it cold, before straining the drinks into glasses. (Depending on the size of your shaker, you’ll likely need to mix them up in a couple of batches.) You can use any kind of oranges, or tangerines. Cara Cara oranges are pretty mild, so depending on the flavor of the citrus you have, you may want to use less lime juice, then add more to taste.
9 ounces (1 generous cup, 270ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
2 to 3 ounces (4-5 tablespoons, 60-90ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces (1/4 cup, 60ml) Triple sec, or another orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau
5 ounces (150ml) tequila
2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
fresh lime slices, for garnish
1. Rub the rims of 4 glasses with a piece of citrus to wet it. Sprinkle some flaky sea or kosher salt onto a plate and dip each overturned glass in the salt, pressing and turning it so the rim is coated.
2. In a pitcher, stir together the orange juice, 2 ounces of lime juice, Triple sec, tequila, and honey or agave nectar. Taste, and add additional lime juice, if desired.
3. Fill glasses 2/3’s full with ice then divide the margarita mix into the glasses, adding a slice of fresh lime.


Orange Margaritas

Related Recipes

Blood Orange Sorbet


Sidecar Cocktail

Persimmon Margaritas

*Update: Here it is.

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  • sharon wichmann
    March 24, 2015 3:00pm

    I love margaritas and it’s the first drink I want when I land in Florida. This looks great – but I might wait for warmer weather!!

  • March 24, 2015 3:06pm

    I’ve also been making margaritas to beat the winter blues! Even though it’s cold and snowy outside, it’s like a little retreat to be inside sipping on a margarita. I have a few oranges in my fridge so I might need to try one of these.

  • March 24, 2015 3:21pm

    I agree with Sara…margaritas are the best for bringing a little sunshine to a cold, dark day. I’ve never tried an orange one, though–sounds great!

  • Lizzy
    March 24, 2015 3:40pm

    I live in south Texas and at Christmas my sil topped off all of our margarita’s with freshly squeezed orange juice — best margarita I ever tasted!

  • Jen
    March 24, 2015 4:02pm

    This looks delicious!

    Re: the apple margarita–I wonder if you’re thinking of a Chimayo cocktail, at Rancho de Chimayo? It’s a delightful concoction of apple cider, tequila, lemon juice and creme de cassis.

    • March 24, 2015 4:03pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, that’s it! I was Googling around trying to find it. (Chimayó cocktail) I remember it being surprising, and surprisingly good! Thanks…

  • lizzy
    March 24, 2015 4:22pm

    Rancho de Chimayo — what a wonderful place — I love eating on the terraced back patio with all the tables covered in red tablecloths. I’ll have to try the Chimayo cocktail the next time I’m there!

  • Exploding Mary
    March 24, 2015 5:10pm

    MM. Frank Stitt has a similar recipe, named after his wife, Pardis, in his first cookbook. I’ve made it– fresh orange does make this drink so easily downed!

    • Christina
      March 24, 2015 6:31pm

      I adore Chimayo a magical place and the cocktail is wonderful.

  • Ginger G
    March 24, 2015 5:25pm

    … Congrats on James Beard nomination!!!

  • March 24, 2015 5:26pm

    This sounds like the perfect drink for Spring garden planting, but I’m not so sure about crop yield, down the line. Pole beans may be growing inside of tomato cages and tomato plants trellised up where the beans should be. I better wait for an afternoon of visitors. One should never drink alone, nor should one ever have just one. Or so they tell me…

  • March 24, 2015 5:27pm

    It’s almost 5:00 here in Rome, and I have a bowl full of Sicilian blood oranges….

  • Sylvia
    March 24, 2015 5:49pm

    David, Congratulations on the James Beard nomination for your book!

  • March 24, 2015 6:08pm

    That looks wonderful, but the other night, at a local watering hole, I watched the bartender make a Blackberry Basil Margarita. It’s what I’m having next time.

  • March 24, 2015 6:12pm

    We live in margarita (aka “marg”) land over here but it’s nice to see a little twist on the usual. I love a good mojito, but $3 margs are too good to pass up!

    March 24, 2015 6:13pm

    Living in Albuquerque, I am privileged to go to Rancho de Chimayo in Santa Fe often when I need a little quick getaway…even for one evening! I never had the Chimayo cocktail. I always opt for the traditional margarita (always with Grand Marnier).. The Grand Gold Margarita (you can request it anywhere)! Why, I think I will go there on Saturday just to try the Chimayo Cocktail in celebration of Spring in New Mexico, as we are having beautiful weather! What a marvelous idea! Thank you Jen, Lizzy and David.

  • Amy
    March 24, 2015 6:26pm

    Hmm…more snow on the ground here in Pittsburgh this morning, but this drink might do the trick to brighten my mood! How perfect that I have a bag of Cara Cara oranges from Trader Joe’s in the fridge. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Philip
    March 24, 2015 6:32pm

    Cara cara oranges are especially good this year– the drought in California has produced smaller, more intense fruit. The peel is also good candied.

  • Kelly
    March 24, 2015 6:35pm

    Thanks for the previous mention of Don’s Bogam on 32nd. St. We had a wonderful meal with a small flurry of cute Korean waiters, at an easy price. Nice for us that you’re as outspoken about NYC as Paris.

  • Linda
    March 24, 2015 6:43pm

    Yummm… when I still lived in California a friend and I combined the flavors we loved of the margarita and the mojioto.. in a cold shaker we juiced 1 orange, 1 lemon & 1 lime, added tequilla, orange liquer, and crushed mint – filled with crushed ice and shook well… that was The Best most refreshing drink ever! We only used the gold Cazaderos tequilla because of it’s smooth flavor. We called it the Californian!

  • Paris breakfast
    March 24, 2015 6:43pm

    Cara Cara oranges…just heaven.
    I didn’t know how much I miss those…

  • March 24, 2015 6:49pm

    I just discovered cara cara oranges, too. I was looking for blood oranges, to make a blood orange curd, and my grocery store only had navel and cara cara, so I went with the cara cara. I will be making your cocktail soon, looks delicious!

  • March 24, 2015 7:57pm

    I’m sitting on a very noisy bus right now on the way home from a successful field trip, and you have provided me with the perfect antidote to my crashing headache! Can’t wait to try this out!!!

  • March 24, 2015 8:19pm

    “Apple Margarita” AKA Chimayo Cocktail served at Rancho de Chimayo restaurant on the “Highroad” between Santa Fe and Taos.
    I don’t know exact proportions but the ingredients are
    Gold tequila
    Apple cider
    Squeeze of lemon
    Dash of cassis
    Serve over ice in a cinnamon/sugar rimmed glass and a fresh apple wedge
    Absolutely wonderful with Chimayo red chile!
    Love your blog…..anyone who can feed me and keep me laughing is Golden :) Thanks!

  • Jayne
    March 24, 2015 8:50pm

    Soak a small, thin sponge in lime juice. Dip the rim and then dip in salt. Party-ready!

  • Andrea
    March 24, 2015 9:53pm

    Thanks for the photo of the shaggy limes, most eloquent.

  • farmerpam
    March 24, 2015 9:55pm

    Count me in on this one. The Chimayo too. Anything to chase these frigid temps away, if only in my mind. ;)

  • Allegra
    March 24, 2015 9:57pm


    In those long gone days of my youth a large Mason jar was a perfect foil for the lack of a silver shaker. It is a good band-aid for a scratch if not a wound. The margaritas never suffered for it, and neither did we.

  • March 24, 2015 9:58pm

    Well… I’m in Palm Springs where it is ALWAYS margarita weather… and I have a lot of Cara Cara oranges… and limes… and… so y’all can just guess what I will be serving with my beef barbacoa tacos tonight. Thank you, David, for the great recipe and congratulations on the James Beard nomination,

  • Jana
    March 24, 2015 10:05pm

    Off subject, but congratulations on your nomination by the James Beard Foundation for My Paris Kitchen. Well deserved!

  • Kari
    March 25, 2015 12:02am

    Yum, yum, yum! I can’t wait to make one!

  • March 25, 2015 12:10am

    Another exciting post on cocktails! Merci David. bravo.

  • Kate
    March 25, 2015 2:20am

    I knew it was the Chimayo cocktail! My husband fondly calls Rancho des Chimayo Rancho Relaxo, and every fall I get some fresh cider and make up some!

  • DALE
    March 25, 2015 3:19am

    The best margarita I had was at the Panamonte Inn in Boquete, Panama. It was made from Sour Oranges. I haven’t found them up here in El Norte, but I can get close with a mix like yours. Still, the taste memory lingers and wants a repeat of the one(s) I had in Boquete.

    • March 25, 2015 11:18am
      David Lebovitz

      Sour oranges are wonderful. I used to get them in Northern California (they grow around the state capital building in Sacramento, and people make “Capital Hill” marmalade from them)

  • These look great! And now that the weather is finally turning, it’s a great excuse to get out and enjoy the sunshine with a nice little buzz ;)

  • March 25, 2015 5:43am

    I think a green apple margarita would be quite nice, maybe with some basil or tarragon….

  • Gavrielle
    March 25, 2015 6:03am

    Many congratulations on the James Beard nomination! I’m even prouder to own the book now. And best of luck for the award (although as we all know it’s an honour just to be nominated…)

  • Esmee
    March 25, 2015 6:15am

    The cara cara oranges were inspired! Thanks, David! Just for fun we used juice from a few fresh pink grapefruit, too, and dipped the rims in a combination of coarse pink salt and sparkling coarse white sugar.

  • March 25, 2015 9:09am

    Nothing beats a good citrus drink

  • Laetitia
    March 25, 2015 10:08am

    un petit “roadtrip” à travers les campagnes françaises? Je ne sais pas si vous connaissez de ferme en ferme. Il ne me semble pas que vous en ayez déjà parlé. Corrigez moi si je me trompe. De ferme en ferme, vous dégustez les “produits du terroir”. C’était la tradition annuelle…

    PS: Non aux pamplemousses de floride, oui aux pomelos de corse ;p

    • March 25, 2015 11:13am
      David Lebovitz

      Nous sommes allé en Corse -c’était magnifique, mais nous ne avons pas vu d’agrumes en provenance des producteurs sur les marchés malheureusement. Je n’ai pas trouvé les pamplemousses corses aux marchés à Paris … mais je vais regarder de plus!

      (De Ferme en ferme n’exist pas à Paris; il y a La Ruche qui dit Oui!)

  • Katrn
    March 25, 2015 1:17pm

    Remember the Paris winter of 2010 – 2011. How fw was that ! Snow every where .and I could have done with that cocktail then. Merci

  • March 25, 2015 3:51pm

    Oh thank you for this! Bright flavors are so needed after this winter. I about burst into tears when it snowed here on the first day of Spring. Now to gather supplies for this drink….

  • March 25, 2015 6:44pm

    This sounds fresh and delightful! Also, bonne chance at the IACP awards.

  • Chloe
    March 25, 2015 7:23pm

    As Albert Camus once said, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible urge to make margaritas.”

    or something like that

  • Catherine Saxton
    March 26, 2015 5:37am

    These look fabulous!! We have an organic navel in our back yard that has the BEST ORANGES, fat, juicy, just the right amount of sweet. Oh yeah, I live in California… we never had winter this year… Or last for that matter…. I do like to make margaritas with Damiana (the Mexican Love Drug) in place of the triple sec, so I’ll try it with that and let you know!

    • DALE
      March 27, 2015 3:32am

      Mmm Catherine Sexton: never tried organic navels!

  • Nancy H. Hall
    March 26, 2015 3:27pm

    Just want to say how much I enjoy your website. So much so that the book group I belong to is reading THE SWEET LIFE IN PARIS and MY PARIS KITCHEN and in September each person will prepare a different recipe from one of your books to share at our September meeting. I am already practicing and enjoying your recipes!
    Thank you.

  • March 26, 2015 9:09pm

    Yum. Love maragaritas so this would be up my alley. I totally missed seeing you in Brooklyn. :-)

  • March 26, 2015 10:25pm

    I just read the list of 2015 James Beard Nominees and was thrilled to find your “My Paris Kitchen” there! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! Well Done and well deserved. Have a margarita and celebrate.

  • Brady
    March 27, 2015 2:41am

    This looks like the perfect antidote to the grey spring weather here too….now to find some cara caras…..and congrats on the nom!!

  • Esmee
    March 28, 2015 5:27am

    I decided to try these on a spur of the moment tonight…. I got halfway through the prep and had no Cointreau or anything orang flavored. A shot of Chambord added gorgeous color and flavor! Next time I’ll garnish with raspberries!

  • March 29, 2015 11:52pm

    Just made these. Had to substitute lemon juice for the lime juice, but they’re delicious.The produce guy at New Seasons steered me toward some heirloom naval oranges when I told him what I was making and I’m glad he did! I adore your persimmon margaritas as well and am thinking that I’ll rim my next glass of orange margarita with cinnamon and sugar instead of salt like you did with the Persimmon version. So good.

  • April 1, 2015 3:22pm

    sounds like a perfect way to banish winter blahs…. (and we’re missing you here over in Paris!) :)

  • Nancy
    April 2, 2015 12:28pm

    If you’re in Chicago, or maybe any city with a Bobby Flay restaurant, the margaritas at the Il Frontera Grill are second to none – magnificent, as is the food in general there.

    But New Mexico is my adopted home, although southern France is where I live, and it’s so hard to get new mexican products here! The one thing that makes me sad…