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Want a truly special margarita? Burn your lemons (yes, really)

Best margarita trick

Charred lemons
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Let’s be clear: there are a lot of “classic” cocktails. We’re discussing drinks like the Old Fashioned, Gin & Tonic, and Manhattan. But when it comes to tequila-based drinks, none are even as popular as the iconic, sweet, tart, agave-filled Margarita.

On a warm, sunny day, there aren’t many other drinks as refreshing as this drink made with fresh lime juice, triple sec, and tequila. It’s simple, elegant, and delicious. You can add a salt rim, but there’s not much else you can do to elevate this seemingly perfect cocktail, right? Or is there?

Instead of simply using lime juice, tequila, and triple sec, charred lemons add a whole new dimension to your favorite cocktail.

Margarita
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Why charred lemons?

Charring lemons adds completely new flavors while heightening the already acidic, citrusy, juicy flavors. Charring adds an extra sweetness to the tart fruit and also adds a gentle hint of smoke, two flavors that are sure to elevate this traditional tequila-based cocktail.

Making charred lemons is fairly simple. All you need is 10 to 12 lemons. Slice the ends of each lemon and then cut them in half. Broil them for fifteen minutes, checking on them often to see if they have the char you’re looking for.

Once the charred lemons are cooled, they are ready to use for your charred lemon Margarita. While a classic Margarita is known for its mix of tart citrus, sweet triple sec, and vegetal agave, adding charred lemons gives the drink even more sweetness, an added citrus element, and a subtle kick of smoke. If you like Margaritas already, you’re going to love this version.

Sliced lemon
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What you’ll need to make a charred lemon Margarita

  • 2 ounces of Blanco tequila
  • .5 ounces of charred lemon juice
  • .5 ounces of fresh lime juice
  • .5 ounce of triple sec
  • Charred lemon wheel garnish

Charred lemon margarita steps

1. In an ice-filled shaker, add tequila, charred lemon juice, fresh lime juice, and triple sec.
2.) Shake the ingredients vigorously to combine.
3.) Strain into a salt-rimmed Margarita glass.
4.) Garnish with a charred lemon wheel.

tequila bottles
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Choosing the right tequila or mezcal

While we prefer a well-made Blanco tequila for this recipe, that doesn’t mean you can’t add some complexity by using a reposado or añejo tequila. If you want to crank this cocktail up to eleven, you’ll pair the sweet, citrus, smoky flavor of the charred lemons with a smoky, sweet, roasted agave mezcal instead of a tequila. There’s a lot of room for experimenting with this recipe as well.
If you prefer, remove the lime juice and double up the charred lemon juice for a smokier, more robust version. Most of all, have fun. Making cocktails at home isn’t supposed to be like taking a science exam. It should be an absolute blast that ends with a flavorful, boozy cocktail.

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Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
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