Non Alcoholic Margarita Success: In-Depth Tasting and Recipes

non alcoholic margarita

The margarita: simple, refreshing, and feels like the beach in a glass. Until now, there simply hasn’t been a suitable non-alcoholic margarita recipe that achieves the spirit of the drink without the alcohol. 

Ritual Zero Proof, the non-alcoholic spirits brand behind Gin Alternative and Whiskey Alternative, now offers Tequila Alternative. This spirit has proven, through thoughtful testing and comparison, to be an excellent non-alcoholic tequila substitute in margaritas. 

After investigating the best ways to make a margarita, Tequila Alternative was substituted for tequila in recipes commonly used by the best bartenders and mixologists around the world. It was also tested against another well known non-alcoholic spirit brand showcasing a margarita mocktail. 

Ritual Zero Proof created a very versatile non-alcoholic spirit, proving itself to work in multiple variations of the margarita. Read below for the results from all taste tests, as there are several delicious variations. 

I am confident you will enjoy one of the options tested, and my top recommendation from the results that most mimics a classic margarita: Non-Alcoholic Margarita.

What’s in a margarita? 

The margarita: tequila, lime juice, sugar. Choosing between blanco or reposado tequila, which type of sweetener to use, and salt or no salt rim are all options for creating multitude of variations on the margarita. Many have opinions on what is best, and several of these options were crafted and tested. My personal favorite is a 2:1:1 ratio of blanco tequila, lime juice, and honey syrup (1:1 honey:water). 

What does Ritual Tequila Alternative taste like? 

Ritual Zero-Proof’s Tequila Alternative is golden in color, immediately suggesting it’s an alternative to reposado tequila. Reposado tequila is traditionally made by aging tequila for 60-364 days and has a deeper, richer flavor than blanco tequila. Tequila Alternative smells smoky, reminiscent of mezcal or charred wood and has a hint agave. 

Sipped neat, it tastes sweet and smoky with a spicy finish. On its own, it seems close enough of a tequila substitute to start testing some margaritas.  

RITUAL TEQUILA MARGARITA RECIPES

Since it’s difficult to control the variability of lime varietals and ripeness, the main variable to address in a margarita is the sweetener. For the following taste tests, Tequila Alternative was mixed in a 2:1 ratio with fresh lime juice, then common sweeteners were added. Below are the recipes and results of those taste tests. 

tasting best non alcoholic tequila in margaritas

Margarita Mocktail with Simple Syrup (1:1 sugar:water)

  • 2oz Ritual Tequila Alternative
  • 1oz lime juice
  • simple syrup (1:1 sugar and water)

Tasting notes: Clean, can taste all the elements, the spiciness of ritual cuts through the lime. It’s balanced. It’s spicy, but balanced. Very clean on ice. clean , balanced with a slightly spicy finish. 

Margarita Mocktail with Honey Syrup

  • 2oz Ritual Tequila Alternative
  • 1oz lime juice
  • honey syrup (1:1 clover honey and water)

Tasting notes: Richer, spicy, almost like a mezcal margarita; the smokiness comes out more with the honey; definitely close enough to feel like you’re having a margarita with friends; smoky

Margarita Mocktail with Agave Syrup (based on Tommy’s Margarita)

  • 2oz Ritual Tequila Alternative
  • 1oz lime juice
  • .5oz agave syrup (specific one used: Madhava Organic Light Agave)

Tasting notes: This is a lot like the simple syrup version, but seems to be more lime forward. They are very similar though. The difference is in the finish. Note the amount of agave syrup is a different ratio than the sweeteners above. Agave syrup is very sweet, and tends to punch through the beverage a lot more easily, so best to dial it back for a more balanced flavor.

Margarita Mocktail with Cointreau (low ABV)

  • 2oz Ritual Tequila Alternative
  • 1oz lime juice
  • 1oz cointreau

Tasting notes: Not bad. Very lime forward, but fresh. Somehow the cointreau neutralizes a lot of the spiciness of Tequila Alternative. It’s a nice balance. Salt rim on this one for sure!

To be honest, all four versions of these margarita mocktails were good, so take your pick based on your flavor preference. My favorite is the one with honey, because it reminds me of a mezcal margarita.

margarita mocktail and bocce

Tequila Alternative: Brand Recommended Mocktails 

After the basic margarita tests, Tequila Alternative was sampled through some Ritual Zero Proof recommended non-alcoholic margaritas. These recipes are listed on their website, so one can assume they were created to best represent Tequila Alternative. Here are the recipes and taste test results: 

All Day Margarita

non alcoholic margarita with ritual tequila

Ingredients: 

  • 2 oz. Ritual Tequila Alternative
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • Lime slice or wedge

Directions: 

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, shake, shake. Pour into a cocktail glass, garnish with a lime slice or wedge.

Verdict: This is just ok. The orange juice brings some depth to the beverage, which is served up. If I wasn’t thinking of this as a margarita, it wouldn’t be half bad. However, this is a margarita test, and drinking a margarita without ice feels wrong, especially this one. This might be a good candidate for a non alcoholic margarita punch of sorts. 

When it comes to margaritas, I’m a bit of a purist, and do not prefer orange juice mixed with lime juice. If you do like this blend, consider testing this Ritual margarita yourself. 

Heat Wave (Spicy Margarita)

ritual tequila in a spicy non alcoholic margarita

Ingredients: 

  • 2 oz. Ritual Tequila Alternative
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • ½ oz. agave nectar
  • ½ jalapeño pepper
  • Basil Leaf
  • Tajin or Valentina Seasoning (for rim)

Directions: 

Pour Tequila Alternative over jalapeño and basil, sliced lengthwise, in a cocktail shaker. Let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. The longer, the spicier. Add lime, triple sec, agave and ice. Shake shake shake. Pour over ice into a Tajin-rimmed glass. Garnish with jalapeño slices and basil.

Verdict: Ritual is already fairly spicy, and it was hard to tell if the jalapeño even added much spice after 15 min of soaking. The basil is a nice touch. It really brightens up the beverage. I might try dropping the triple sec and add a little more agave nectar to simplify. Overall, Heat Wave is a well balanced and a very tasty margarita mocktail. 

Check current price for Ritual Zero Proof Tequila Alternative on Amazon.

SEEDLIP COCKTAILS: COMPETITION FOR A VIRGIN MARGARITA

Even though Ritual Zero-Proof has proven to be an excellent spirit for a virgin margarita, this wouldn’t be a comprehensive test without sizing up the competition. 

One of Seedlip’s recommended mocktails for Seedlip Grove 42 is the Seedlip margarita. Here is the recipe and the taste test results from making it: 

Seedlip Margarita

seedlip margarita

Ingredients:

  • 2oz Seedlip Grove 42
  • .5oz lime juice
  • 1tbs agave syrup

Directions: 

Run a lime wedge around the outside of the rim of the glass to wet with juice, then roll salt around the rim. Add all the ingredients with ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake & strain over fresh cubes of ice into a tumbler. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Verdict: If you like sweet things, you’ll like this. Looks like a margarita, but doesn’t taste like one at all. Grove is very orange flavored, and you will taste that in this drink. The salt goes well with the sweetness. However, if you’re looking for a flavor substitute for a margarita, this is not your drink. 

In my Seedlip reviews, Seedlip Garden 108 and Seedlip Grove 42, I discovered this fresh non-alcoholic beverage. It’s not exactly a margarita, but a really interesting nod to the beverage.  Seedlip Grove 42 has found a place as a possible non-alcoholic triple sec in mocktails. 

If you have your Seedlip spirits handy, I recommend trying out this beverage, and it’s the closest thing to a Seedlip margarita you’ll find: 

Garden Party

seedlip margarita garden party

Ingredients:

  • Seedlip Garden 108: 2oz
  • Seedlip Grove 42: 1/2oz
  • Agave Syrup: 1/2oz
  • Fresh Lime: 3/4oz
  • Saline: 2 drops

Directions:

Shake all ingredients. Strain over ice.

What is the Best Garnish for a Non-Alcoholic Margarita?

Garnish is ultimately a personal choice, but whatever you choose, know that it has the power to affect your beverage positively or negatively, as our sense of smell is very closely tied to our sense of taste. You can wet the rim and coat it with sea salt (classic), Tajin, Valentina, smoked sea salt, coarse sugar, or make your own combination of seasonings.

Play with pairings. For instance, you might want to counter a spicy mocktail with a sweet rim, or try kicking up the spice even further with a spicy rim AND a jalapeño slice: see Heat Wave above.

Lime wedges are classic garnish for a margarita. Try a lime wheel instead, a cucumber slice, a Tajin-salted mango cube, dehydrated fruit. Honestly, the possibilities are endless, so get creative!

Just remember: whatever you smell before your lips hit that glass will ultimately affect how you perceive the beverage. It’s always fun to learn this through experimentation.

CONCLUSION

Taste is obviously subjective, but hopefully this has given you a good idea of what is possible when crafting your non-alcoholic margarita. One thing is certain: Ritual Zero-Proof has created a great faux tequila for margaritas, whether or not you usually drink alcohol. Substitute approved.

If you are interested in making more mocktails with Tequila Alternative, be sure to check out the full review, as well as the library of mocktail recipes, taste-tested and approved. 

How will you make your virgin margarita? When you find your perfect mix, post it on Instagram and tag @masterofmocktails or #masterofmocktails