Tommy’s Margarita: Easy 3-Ingredient Cocktail [The Ultimate Recipe]

What’s a Tommy’s Margarita?

Tommy’s Margarita is a modern variation of the classic Margarita cocktail, created by Julio Bermejo at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco. Distinct for its use of agave nectar instead of orange liqueur, it emphasizes the agave flavors of tequila. The cocktail is made with tequila, fresh lime juice, and agave syrup, and is served on the rocks in a rocks glass, often with a salted rim and lime garnish. This variant is celebrated for its simplicity, refreshing taste, and its ability to showcase the natural flavors of its ingredients.

Why is it called a Tommy’s Margarita?

Tommy’s Margarita is named after Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, where bartender Julio Bermejo crafted this variation in the 1990s. This reimagined Margarita was a standout at the restaurant, known for its extensive tequila selection. Bermejo’s creation was a nod to both the restaurant’s legacy and his innovative approach to the classic Margarita, using high-quality ingredients to enhance the agave flavor, making it a modern classic in the cocktail world.

  • Origin: Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, San Francisco.
  • Creator: Julio Bermejo.
  • Significance: Innovation on the classic Margarita, emphasizing high-quality ingredients.

How is Tommy’s Margarita different from the classic Margarita?

Tommy’s Margarita distinguishes itself from the classic Margarita by forgoing orange liqueur and instead incorporating agave nectar. This alteration spotlights the tequila’s agave flavors, providing a cleaner, more natural sweetness. The result is a fresher, more straightforward taste profile, focusing on tequila, lime juice, and agave syrup. This minimalist approach has contributed to its popularity among tequila lovers and its status as a contemporary cocktail favorite.

  1. Ingredients: Omission of orange liqueur, use of agave nectar.
  2. Flavor Profile: Cleaner, natural sweetness, highlighting agave flavors.
  3. Popularity: Straightforward agave-forward taste.

These distinctions contribute to Tommy’s Margarita’s unique position in the cocktail world, offering a fresh take on a traditional favorite. Its popularity and evolution reflect its role in modern cocktail culture, blending tradition with innovation.


Tommy’s Margarita primarily uses three key ingredients: tequila, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar. It’s a simple yet delightful combination, with measurements of 60 ml (2 oz) tequila, 30 ml (1 oz) lime juice, and 15 ml (0.5 oz) agave nectar.

Key Ingredients:

  1. Tequila: 60 ml (2 oz), adjust for a stronger or milder taste.
  2. Lime Juice: 30 ml (1 oz), fresh for a zesty flavor, adjust to taste.
  3. Agave Nectar: 15 ml (0.5 oz), can vary for sweetness level.

Other Ingredients:

  • Ice cubes – for shaking and serving
  • Lime – for garnish, wedge or wheel (optional)
  • Salt – to rim glass (optional)

These quantities are merely suggestions and can be adjusted to suit your taste preferences. Whether you prefer a stronger tequila flavor or a sweeter touch with more agave, the recipe is adaptable.

Ingredient Substitutes

For those looking to experiment or who might not have the exact ingredients, there are substitute options available.

Instead of tequila, try a milder spirit like white rum or vodka for a different twist. If fresh lime juice isn’t available, lemon juice can be a suitable alternative, offering a similar citrusy zing. And if agave nectar is out of reach, agave syrup, simple syrup or honey can be used as sweetening agents, though they will slightly alter the cocktail’s original flavor profile.

  • Tequila Alternatives: White rum or vodka for a different flavor.
  • Lime Juice Substitute: Lemon juice for a similar citrus touch.
  • Agave Nectar Replacement: Agave syrup, simple syrup or honey for sweetness.

Ingredient Proportions

The recommended ingredient ratio for Tommy’s Margarita is 2:1:0.5, meaning 2 parts tequila, 1 part lime juice, and 1/2 part agave nectar. In practice, this translates to 60 ml (2 oz) tequila, 30 ml (1 oz) lime juice, and 15 ml (0.5 oz) agave nectar. It’s important to remember, however, that these proportions are not set in stone. You can adjust them to your personal taste, whether you prefer a stronger tequila presence or a sweeter, more citrusy cocktail.

  • Standard Ratio: 2 parts tequila, 1 part lime juice, 0.5 part agave nectar.
  • Adjustable: Modify to cater to personal preference in flavor intensity.

Best Ingredients

The quality of ingredients in Tommy’s Margarita significantly impacts its taste.

For tequila, selecting a high-quality, smooth one that complements the lime’s acidity is key. The usual choice is a blanco or reposado tequila made from 100% agave. Fresh lime juice is crucial for its vibrant, tangy flavor, far superior to bottled versions. Lastly, using pure agave nectar ensures a natural, refined sweetness that balances the cocktail. While brand specifics are not essential, focusing on the quality and freshness of each component is what elevates this drink.

  • Tequila: Choose smooth, high-quality. Blanco or reposado, 100% agave.
  • Lime Juice: Always fresh for vibrancy.
  • Agave Nectar: Pure and natural for best sweetness.

Flavor Profile

Tommy’s Margarita has a flavor profile that is both robust and refreshing. The tequila provides a warm, earthy base, while the fresh lime juice adds a burst of citrus that is both tart and invigorating. The agave nectar rounds out the drink with a subtle sweetness, creating a harmonious balance.

  • Flavor Notes: Warm tequila base, tart and refreshing lime, subtle sweetness from agave.

Tools & Equipment

Creating the perfect Tommy’s Margarita requires some essential bar tools and equipment.

A cocktail shaker is indispensable for mixing the ingredients and chilling the mixture. A jigger or measuring cup helps ensure accurate proportions of tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar. For serving, a rocks glass is traditional, and if you prefer your Margarita with a salt rim, have a plate for the salt and a lime wedge to moisten the glass rim. A strainer is useful when transferring the cocktail from the shaker to the glass, especially if you enjoy your Margarita without ice. Finally, you may need a citrus juicer to squeeze the lime juice.

  1. Cocktail Shaker: For mixing and chilling.
  2. Jigger/Measuring Cup: For precise ingredient measurements.
  3. Strainer: To transfer the cocktail without ice.
  4. Rocks Glass: Ideal for serving.
  5. Plate: If opting for a salted rim.
  6. Citrus Juicer: For fresh lime juice.

Instructions for Preparation

To craft the Tommy’s Margarita, start by optionally rimming a rocks glass with salt, using a lime wedge for moisture. Mix tequila, fresh lime juice and agave nectar in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds to blend and chill the ingredients. Strain the mixture into the glass filled with fresh ice. For a final touch, garnish with a lime wheel or wedge. This method ensures a perfectly balanced, refreshing cocktail every time, adaptable to personal taste preferences.

The method of preparing Tommy’s Margarita is straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Prepare the Glass: If you’re using salt, moisten the rim of the rocks glass with a lime wedge and dip it into the salt.
  2. Mix Ingredients: In a cocktail shaker, combine 60 ml (2 oz) tequila, 30 ml (1 oz) lime juice, and 15 ml (0.5 oz) agave nectar.
  3. Shake: Add ice to the shaker. Seal it and shake vigorously for about 15-20 seconds. This not only chills the drink but also helps to blend the flavors.
  4. Strain and Serve: Strain the cocktail into the prepared glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Garnish: Optionally, garnish with a lime wheel or wedge.

Stir or Shake

When it comes to Tommy’s Margarita, shaking is the preferred method. Shaking not only chills the cocktail rapidly but also ensures a thorough mix of tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar, resulting in a harmonious blend. Unlike stirring, which is often used for clear, spirit-forward drinks, shaking is ideal for cocktails with citrus juices, creating a vibrant and well-integrated flavor profile.

  • Preferred Method: Shaking.
  • Benefits: Rapid chilling, thorough mixing, enhanced flavors.

Ice, Chilling & Dilution

For preparation, use cube ice in the shaker, which chills the drink while adding a small amount of dilution, essential for balancing the flavors. When serving, Tommy’s Margarita is typically enjoyed on the rocks; therefore, fill the serving glass with fresh cube ice. Large and clear ice cubes are ideal. Pre-chilling the glass, either in the freezer or by filling it with ice before serving, ensures the drink remains cold longer, enhancing the drinking experience.

  • Preparation Ice: Cube ice in the shaker.
  • Serving Ice: Fresh large cubes of clear ice in the glass.
  • Pre-Chill Glass: Enhances drink’s coldness and longevity.


Common mistakes when making Tommy’s Margarita can affect the final quality of the drink. Over-shaking can lead to excessive dilution, muting the flavors. Not using fresh lime juice significantly diminishes the cocktail’s zest and freshness. Another error is over-sweetening with too much agave nectar, which can overpower the tequila and lime. Lastly, using low-quality tequila can result in a harsh taste. Understanding these pitfalls and avoiding them will ensure a delicious, well-balanced Tommy’s Margarita.

  1. Avoid Over-Shaking: Prevents excessive dilution.
  2. Use Fresh Lime Juice: Essential for zest and freshness.
  3. Balance Agave Nectar: Avoid over-sweetening.
  4. Quality Tequila: Crucial for a smooth, enjoyable drink.


Selecting the right glassware and garnish not only elevates its visual appeal but also contributes to the sensory experience. A well-presented drink invites the imbiber into the cocktail’s world, making the first sip as visually enticing as it is flavorful.


Traditionally, Tommy’s Margarita is served in a rocks glass, which is ideal for on-the-rocks drinks and allows for a generous serving of ice. The classic margarita glass is also an option. However, for those looking to experiment, a coupe glass can offer a more elegant presentation, especially when served without ice. The choice of glassware can be a personal preference or a way to match the ambiance of the occasion.

  • Classic Option: Rocks glass.
  • Alternative Option: Margarita glass for the classic look. Coupe glass for an elegant presentation.


While a salt rim and a lime wheel or wedge are the classic garnishes for the Tommy’s Margarita, adding a creative twist can enhance the drink’s appeal. Think a dehydrated lime wheel or a spicy rim of salt mixed with chili powder. Taking it a step further, a sprig of fresh mint or a slice of cucumber can introduce an additional layer of freshness and aroma. Edible flowers could create a unique visual and taste contrast that complements the cocktail’s flavors.

  • Classic Garnish: Salt rim, fresh lime wheel or wedge.
  • Creative Options: Spicy rim, dehydrated lime wheel, mint, cucumber, edible flowers.

Variations & Riffs

If you enjoy the agave-rich taste of a Tommy’s Margarita, you may want to try some other cocktails with a similar flavor profile:

For a traditional experience, choose the Classic Margarita, with its timeless blend of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime. The Frozen Margarita offers a slushy, refreshing take, perfect for hot days. Mezcal Margarita swaps tequila with mezcal, introducing a smoky twist. The Cadillac Margarita elevates the classic with top-shelf ingredients and a Grand Marnier float. For those who enjoy a spicy kick, the Spicy Margarita infuses heat with ingredients like jalapeño. The Cucumber Margarita adds a fresh, crisp dimension.

Outside the Margarita family, the Mexican Mule combines tequila with ginger beer for a fizzy, spicy concoction, and the Paloma, with its grapefruit and tequila blend, offers a tart and refreshing alternative.

Each of these variations highlights a unique aspect of the beloved Tommy’s Margarita.

  1. Classic Margarita: Timeless, with tequila, orange liqueur, lime.
  2. Frozen Margarita: Slushy and refreshing.
  3. Mezcal Margarita: Smoky flavor from mezcal.
  4. Cadillac Margarita: Luxurious, with top-shelf ingredients.
  5. Spicy Margarita: Heat from ingredients like jalapeño.
  6. Cucumber Margarita: Fresh and crisp.
  7. Mexican Mule: Tequila, ginger beer for fizz and spice.
  8. Paloma: Grapefruit and tequila, tart and refreshing.

Experiment: Creating Your Own Riff

Crafting your own riff on Tommy’s Margarita offers a canvas for creativity and personal taste. The key is to understand the balance of the classic drink and then play with ingredient variations, both classic and inventive.

Here’s how you can experiment:

1. Base Spirit Variations:

Start by experimenting with the base spirit. While tequila is the classic choice, trying other spirits like mezcal for a smoky flavor, or a light rum for a softer touch, can create an entirely different cocktail experience.

2. Citrus Twists:

The traditional lime juice can be substituted or complemented with other citrus juices like lemon for a sharper tang, or blood orange for a sweeter, more colorful drink.

3. Sweetener Swaps:

Replace agave nectar with other sweeteners. Agave syrup provides a similar flavor. Honey can add a floral note, while a simple syrup infused with herbs or spices (like thyme, rosemary or cinnamon) can add depth.

4. Addition of Fresh Ingredients:

Muddling in fresh fruits (like berries or kiwi), herbs (like basil or mint), or even vegetables (like bell pepper or cucumber) can introduce new flavors and textures.

5. Bitters and Liqueurs:

A dash of bitters or a splash of liqueur can drastically change the profile. Consider options like orange bitters for complexity or elderflower liqueur for a floral sweetness.

6. Rim:

Play with the rim – salt is classic, but spiced salt or even sugar can be exciting.

7. Garnish:

Garnishes can range from the traditional lime wheel to more adventurous choices like dehydrated fruit or edible flowers.

Remember, the key to a successful riff is balance. Start with small adjustments and taste as you go. The beauty of experimenting is in the process of discovering what combinations resonate with your palate, leading to a personalized version of Tommy’s Margarita.

Serving Occasions

Tommy’s Margarita, with its versatile and refreshing profile, is perfect for a variety of serving occasions. It’s a stellar choice for summer barbecues and outdoor gatherings, where its refreshing qualities shine. It also fits seamlessly into more formal events like dinner parties or cocktail hours, adding a sophisticated yet approachable touch. For a casual get-together with friends, Tommy’s Margarita is a crowd-pleaser, easy to mix and always enjoyable.

  • Summer Barbecues: Refreshing in the heat.
  • Formal Events: Sophisticated for cocktail hours and dinners.
  • Casual Gatherings: Approachable and universally liked.

Food Pairings

The zesty and balanced flavor of Tommy’s Margarita makes it an excellent companion to a wide range of foods. It pairs wonderfully with Mexican cuisine, complementing dishes like tacos, nachos, or ceviche. The acidity of the lime juice and the sweetness of the agave nectar can cut through the richness of grilled meats, making it an excellent choice for barbecues. For lighter fare, it pairs well with salads, especially those with a citrus dressing or avocado. The versatility of Tommy’s Margarita means it can harmonize with a variety of flavors, from spicy to savory and even slightly sweet dishes.

  • Mexican Cuisine: Tacos, nachos, ceviche.
  • Grilled Meats: Balances richness with acidity and sweetness.
  • Salads: Complements citrus dressings and avocado.
Tommys Margarita Cocktail

Tommy's Margarita

Tommy's Margarita is an agave-forward version of the classic Margarita cocktail because it replaces the traditional orange liqueur with agave nectar. It combines the sweet agave nectar with smooth tequila and tangy lime. The drink is shaken and served over ice in a rocks glass, with an optional salt rim and lime garnish.
Total Time 5 minutes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe


  • 1 Measuring jigger
  • 1 Cocktail shaker
  • 1 Strainer
  • 1 Lowball glass (rocks glass)
  • 1 Citrus juicer (for lime juice)


  • 2 oz Tequila (blanco or reposado, preferably 100% agave)
  • 1 oz Lime juice (fresh)
  • ½ oz Agave nectar
  • Ice cubes (for shaking and serving)
  • Lime (optional - for garnish; wedge or wheel)
  • Salt (optional - to rim the glass edge)


  • Rim Glass: If desired, rim a rocks glass with salt. To do so, run a lime wedge around the glass edge to release its juices and then dip the glass edge into a small plate filled with salt.
  • Chill Glass: Optionally, place the glass into a freezer to chill for a couple of minutes. This would also help the salt to stick better to the glass surface.
  • Combine Ingredients: In a cocktail shaker, mix tequila, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar.
  • Shake: Add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously for about 15-20 seconds.
  • Strain: Strain the cocktail into the prepared rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
  • Garnish: Optionally, add a lime wheel or wedge for garnish.


Calories: 182kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 0.1gFat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 35mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 14IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 0.1mg
Calories: 182kcal
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Cocktail
Keyword: tequila
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