Virgin Margarita – A Couple Cooks


This virgin margarita recipe tastes as good as the real thing! Try the secret ingredient that makes this non-alcoholic mocktail so satisfying.

Margarita mocktail

Craving a margarita but can’t drink? Or serving a crowd and need a non-alcoholic option? Enter this non alcoholic virgin margarita recipe! It’s tangy and refreshing, punctuated by that classic salt rim. The best part is a surprise ingredient that brings a funky flavor that’s reminiscent of tequila! Balanced with just enough sweet and tart, it’s truly the non alcoholic mocktail spin on our classic Margarita! Side benefit: it’s lower calorie, too.

How to make a virgin margarita

Here’s how to make everyone’s favorite cocktail into a margarita mocktail! The margarita is a classic alcoholic drink on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. The official definition of a margarita is tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. How to make that into a zero-proof margarita without tasting like lime juice and soda water? We’ve added one secret ingredient to add a funky edge that is reminiscent of tequila. Here’s how to make a virgin margarita:

  • Lime juice: Use fresh lime juice squeezed from a lime (never from a bottle, which has compromised flavor).
  • Lemon juice: Using fresh lemon juice along with the lime brings nuance to the citrus, which is helpful in a mocktail.
  • Tonic water: Bubbles add a sparkle! Tonic water has a slight sweet and bitter flavor which also adds complexity.
  • Maple syrup or simple syrup: Add just a bit of sweetener to balances the tartness.
  • Pickle juice: The secret ingredient, juice from a pickle jar adds that tequila “funk” to the flavors in this zero proof cocktail!
Virgin margarita

The secret? Pickle juice.

The secret to making this virgin margarita taste over-the-top delicious? Pickle juice. Adding intrigue to the flavor of a mocktail is essential to making it taste like more than just fruit juice. In our experiments, we found this tastes even better than a non-alcoholic spirit.

Pickle juice brings a briny funk to this virgin margarita that makes you feel like there’s a little alcohol in it. But it’s not so much that it’s noticeable! It’s also totally optional, so you don’t have to do it if it weirds you out. But after multiple taste tests, pickle juice in a non alcoholic margarita was the clear winner!

Less sugar than the standard virgin margarita recipe

We love our cocktails crisp and tart around here. So just like our Classic Margarita, there’s barely any added sugar in this margarita. This stands out from the standard margarita mocktail, which is usually so sickly sweet it’s barely a margarita at all! This shouldn’t taste like sweet syrupy juice: it should be crisp and tart. The sugar comes from two sources:

  • Maple syrup or simple syrup. You can use whichever you’d like: maple syrup is a great natural sweetener with no refined sugar.
  • A hint of sugar in the tonic water.
Virgin margarita

What is tonic water? Can I use sparkling water?

Tonic water is a carbonated water that also contains quinine and is lightly sweetened. It originally was used against malaria, but these days the quinine levels are much lower. Quinine adds a slightly bitter flavor, but it’s not as detectable with today’s lower levels. Even so, there’s something about the nuance of bitter and sweet in tonic water that adds so much to a mocktail’s flavor.

Tonic water is essential to the flavor here, so we recommend finding it for this virgin margarita. We buy a brand that comes in small cans, which is nice since you’ll only use a small amount for one drink.

Virgin margarita

More margarita variations

If you also drink alcohol (or have friends who do), we’ve got lots more variations on this classic drink! Here are some of the best margarita recipes:

Margarita mocktail

More non alcoholic mocktails

Non alcoholic mocktails are becoming increasingly popular as people seek out refreshing alternatives to alcoholic drinks. A variety of fresh juices, herbs, spices, and sparkling waters can create complex and satisfying virgin drinks. Not only are they perfect for dry January or people wanting to cut back on alcohol, but zero proof mocktails are also ideal for pregnant women, designated drivers, and anyone who just enjoys a good drink without the buzz! Here are a few of our top mocktail recipes:

When to serve this virgin margarita recipe

Anytime works for a non alcoholic margarita! This one is perfect as a:

  • Zero proof margarita for guests who don’t drink alcohol
  • Mocktail for pregnant women
  • Baby shower drink (make one for mom, then classic margaritas for guests)


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This virgin margarita recipe tastes as good as the real thing! Try the secret ingredient that makes this non-alcoholic mocktail so satisfying.

  • 1 ounce* fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon maple syrup or simple syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon pickle juice (optional but recommended!)
  • 3 ounces tonic water
  • For the garnish: Lime wheel

  1. Cut a notch in a lime wedge, then run the lime around the rim of a glass. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of flaky sea salt (or for a festive look, use Margarita Salt).
  2. In the serving glass, stir together the lime juice, lemon juice, maple syrup, and pickle juice (adds just the right funky flavor to mimic tequila). Add the tonic water and ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and serve.


*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons.

  • Category: Mocktail
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Virgin Margarita, Margarita Mocktail, Zero Proof Margarita, Non Alcoholic Margarita, Virgin Margarita Recipe, How to make a virgin margarita


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