Jimmy’s Perfect Margarita

The Margarita will be on a lot of minds and menus with Cinco de Mayo coming up next week, but you don’t really need an occasion to enjoy a Margarita, do you? Especially when you can mix it up with the recipe for Jimmy’s Perfect Margarita. Margaritaville has been a state of mind since 1977 when Jimmy Buffett’s iconic song of that name became a hit and people began “looking for shakers of salt” and daydreaming of sipping adult beverages in tropical locales. Just think of the song—I dare you, click here—and I bet it will keep rolling through your mind long after, too.

Margaritaville has since become a global lifestyle brand inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of the singer-songwriter with restaurants offering “a taste of paradise” in destinations from such places as Key West, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands to Mall of America. Now “Margaritaville: The Cookbook,” by Margaritaville’s concept chef Carlo Sernaglia and Julia Turshen, is the first official cookbook from the brand, drawing inspiration from regional and international flavors with recipes including breakfast dishes, jerk chicken, jambalaya, a Cheeseburger in Paradise, and desserts.

The cookbook is for sale May 1, but we share a sampling here, including Margaritaville’s “definitive house margarita … the perfect balance of tart lime juice, sweet triple sec and biting tequila.” Plus, variations are included if you prefer something with a berry twist or a spicy side. And what kind of taste of paradise would it be without guacamole to pair with your drinks? That recipe is also below.

For now, you can whip up some cocktails, snack on guac, and kick back at home—and remember, as Jimmy Buffett notes in the intro to the book, “Where is Margaritaville? It’s in your mind …” And I bet the song is still in your mind, too.

Jimmy’s Perfect Margarita

Serves 1, easily multiplied

kosher salt
1 lime wedge
ice, preferably crushed
14 cup aged tequila (preferably Margaritaville Gold Tequila)
1 tablespoons triple sec (preferably Margaritaville Triple Sec)
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Place a layer of salt on a small plate. Rub the lime wedge around the rim of a tall glass and then tip the glass upside down onto the plate of salt and coat the rim with salt. Reserve the lime wedge.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the tequila, triple sec, sugar, lime juice, and 3 tablespoons water. Shake vigorously to combine and then pour the mixture, ice and all, into the prepared glass. Garnish with the reserved lime wedge and serve immediately.

Ginger Citrus Margaritas: Shake together 14 cup fresh lime juice, 1⁄4 cup agave nectar, and 14 cup orange juice with 1 cup aged tequila (preferably Margaritaville Gold Tequila) and 2 cups spicy ginger beer. Stir together and serve in glasses filled with crushed ice (salt the rims first, if you’d like!). Garnish with slices of fresh lime and orange and candied ginger, too.

“Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot” Jalapeño Margaritas: Place 1 thinly sliced jalapeño in a small bowl with 1 cup silver tequila (preferably Margaritaville Silver Tequila). Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours. Strain the tequila into a pitcher and reserve the jalapeño slices. Shake the tequila together with 14 cup agave nectar, 12 cup fresh lime juice, and 12 cup triple sec (preferably Margaritaville Triple Sec). Serve in glasses filled with crushed ice (salt the rims first, if you’d like!). Garnish with lime wedges and the reserved jalapeño slices.


Very Berry Frozen Margaritas

Serves 4

14 cup fresh lime juice
1⁄4 cup agave nectar
1 cup silver tequila (preferably Margaritaville Silver Tequila)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 12 cups fresh berries
3 cups ice cubes
4 lime slices, for garnish

Place the lime juice, agave nectar, tequila, orange juice, berries, and ice in a blender (or place the liquids in the container of a Frozen Concoction Maker and ï¬ll the hopper with ice) and puree until smooth. Divide the mixture among four glasses and garnish each drink with a slice of lime. Serve immediately.


Guacamole, just like how Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville makes it


Serves 6

Who doesn’t love fresh, homemade guacamole? We find the most buttery avocados and gently mash them with all the works (red onion, juicy tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and bright lime juice). We like ours with fresh jalapeño, but feel free to leave it out if you prefer things mild. Our biggest piece of advice is to make it just before you eat it, just like we do at all our restaurants.

2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
3 ripe Hass avocados, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon diced fresh tomato
1 jalapeño, minced (seeded if you like it not too spicy)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Place the onion, garlic, and salt in a large mortar and pestle and grind them into a coarse paste. Add the avocado and smash it into the paste with a wooden spoon. Stir in the cilantro, tomato, jalapeño, and lime juice. Season the guacamole with salt and serve immediately.

Recipes and photos from Margaritaville: The Cookbook: Relaxed Recipes for a Taste of Paradise by Carlo Sernaglia and Julia Turshen ©2018 used with permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.