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Which margarita has more alcohol?

When it comes to margaritas, the age-old question is: which one packs the biggest punch? Margaritas can vary wildly in their alcohol content, depending on the specific ingredients and proportions used. Let’s break down the factors that affect a margarita’s booziness.

Tequila vs Triple Sec

The main alcoholic ingredients in a margarita are tequila and orange liqueur (usually triple sec). Tequila typically contains between 38-40% alcohol by volume (ABV). Triple sec on the other hand is lower, usually around 20-30% ABV. So pound for pound, tequila is going to add more alcohol to your margarita than triple sec will.

Most standard margarita recipes call for 2 parts tequila to 1 part triple sec. But some “upside-down” or “skinny” margarita variations flip this ratio, using more triple sec than tequila. In those cases, the total alcohol content will be lower.

Proportions of Tequila and Triple Sec

Speaking of proportions, the more tequila you add relative to triple sec and other ingredients, the higher the alcohol content. A margarita that’s heavy on the tequila (say 3:1 or 4:1 ratios of tequila to triple sec) will have higher ABV than one that uses equal parts tequila and triple sec.

Here’s a table showing how the alcohol percentage changes based on different tequila to triple sec ratios:

Tequila:Triple Sec Alcohol Percentage
2:1 24%
3:1 27%
4:1 30%

As you can see, increasing the proportion of tequila significantly boosts the ABV of the margarita.

Other Ingredients

Margaritas also contain lime juice and sweeteners like simple syrup or agave nectar. These extra ingredients dilute the alcohol content slightly. The more juice or sweetener that’s added, the lower the ABV will be. A “straight up” margarita made with just tequila, triple sec and a lime wedge will be strongest.

Glass Size

Glass size plays a role too. A margarita served in a 12 oz cocktail glass contains the same amount of alcohol as one served in a giant 22 oz fishbowl glass. But because the larger drink contains more total liquid, its alcohol percentage will be lower. This table illustrates:

Glass Size Total Ounces Alcohol Ounces ABV
Cocktail 12 3 25%
Fishbowl 22 3 14%

The fishbowl margarita contains the same 3 ounces of alcohol, but it’s diluted over a larger overall volume. This lowers the ABV compared to a cocktail glass serving.

Frozen vs On the Rocks

Frozen margaritas contain blended ice, which leads to greater dilution. The alcohol doesn’t “melt” the ice in a blender. Rather, the ice actually absorbs some of the alcohol. So a frozen margarita may have a lower alcohol percentage than the same recipe served on the rocks.


Here’s an odd factor you may not have realized – altitude can impact a margarita’s potency! At higher elevations, water will boil at a lower temperature. This makes cooking and mixing drinks more difficult. To compensate, recipes sometimes call for slightly more alcohol to be added when making drinks at altitude. So margaritas served in mile-high Denver may pack more punch than the ones down at sea level.


When comparing margaritas, the recipe itself is the biggest determining factor of alcohol content. Margaritas with higher proportions of tequila or served without extra diluting ingredients will be strongest. Practical factors like glass size, ice, and altitude also play a small role. So next time you’re looking for the biggest bang in your margarita, opt for ones heavy on the tequila, light on the trimmings!