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With the right combination of ingredients, a Virgin Margarita can deliver all of flavor and refreshment of the classic cocktail with none of the alcohol. You need just a few minutes and 5 simple ingredients (including one that might surprise you). Whether you’re a designated driver, are trying out a Dry January or Sober October, or just want a refreshing margarita without the buzz, this is one alcohol-free libation that will not disappoint.
Finding a non-alcoholic margarita recipe that actually tastes authentic can be a challenge. Many versions I tried just tasted like citrus juice and lacked the boozy component that makes a great margarita. But with determination and a bit of trial and error, I discovered the secret ingredient that gives this mocktail that signature margarita flavor: non-alcoholic orange bitters. They make all the difference.
Table of Contents
Ingredients You Need to Make a Virgin Margarita
- Lime: freshly squeezed lime juice plus thinly sliced rounds and zest for serving
- Orange Juice: freshly squeezed orange juice
- Alcohol-Free Orange Bitters: the secret ingredient (I used this brand)
- Agave Nectar: or maple syrup or honey
- Sparkling Water: plain or lime or orange flavored if desired
- Margarita Salt: kosher salt or other coarse salt
How to Make a Virgin Margarita (that tastes like the real thing!)
Start with a refreshing blend of fresh lime juice and fresh orange juice to make up the sweet tart flavor base of a virgin margarita. Add dark agave nectar (instead of simple syrup) to sweeten and balance the drink with a smooth and complex, tequila-like flavor. (You can swap in maple syrup for a similar effect.)
From there, you’ll add a generous dose of non-alcoholic orange bitters (the secret ingredient!) then pour into an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake until combined. Or add all drink ingredients (including sparkling water) and ice into the pitcher of a high powered blender and blend until smooth.
For a festive finish, sweep a lime wedge around the rim of each serving glass and dip in a mixture of fresh lime zest and margarita salt or kosher salt. (This step is optional.)
From a cocktail shaker, pour into ice filled tumblers and top with a bubbly cap of sparkling water. (Plain sparkling water or club soda work well, but orange or lime flavored versions add an additional pop of citrus.) Or pour blended virgin margaritas into tumblers or margarita glasses.
Garnish each drink with lime wedges or thinly sliced lime wheels and serve.
Agave nectar, is a syrup made from the Blue Agave Plant. It has a sweet, deep caramel flavor profile that is reminiscent of tequila (which is distilled from the same plant). It makes a good, non-alcoholic substitute for tequila in virgin drinks and mocktails.
No. If a drink includes the word ‘virgin’ in its title, it should not contain alcohol.
The combination of non-alcoholic orange bitters, freshly squeezed orange juice and dark agave nectar works well as an alcohol-free substitute for triple sec.
More Great Non-Alcoholic Drinks
- Tortilla Chips and Salsa Guacamole and / or Pico de Gallo
- Carne Asada Nachos
- Pulled Pork Nachos
- Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
Virgin Margarita Recipe
For a Single Margarita
- 2 ounces fresh lime juice from about 2 limes
- 1 ounce fresh orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon alcohol free orange bitters or more to taste (The secret ingredient!)
- 2 teaspoons agave nectar plus more to taste, or maple syrup
- sparkling water lime or orange flavored if desired
- margarita salt or kosher salt for rimming the glass, optional
- lime zest to mix with salt for rimming the glass
- lime wedges for garnish and wetting the glass rim
- For a salted rim (optional): in a wide, shallow dish stir salt and lime zest together with a fork. Run the flesh of a lime around the rim of your serving glass. Dip rim in the salt and lime zest mixture to coat with your desired amount of salt.
- Fill glass with ice.
- To a cocktail shaker add lime juice, orange juice, orange bitters, agave nectar and several ice cubes. Shake or stir until combined (10 to 15 seconds); taste and add more agave nectar if desired. Strain into ice filled glass. Top with sparkling water and stir gently to combine. Garnish with lime wedge and serve.
- For blended virgin margaritas, add drink ingredients to a high powered blender pitcher and blend until smooth.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.