Put a festive fall touch to everyone’s favorite classic cocktail with this sparkling apple cider margarita! You'll love the way the warm apple cider spice pairs with the citrusy notes and rich, complex tequila to make one delicious fall cocktail. This margarita uses only fresh ingredients, comes together in just minutes and can be prepared as a single drink or in a pitcher to serve a larger crowd.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Full of fall flavor: Admit it. When the temperatures start to drop, you're ready for all things apple and pumpkin. With every sip, you get a bouquet of warm spice that will give you that cozy, comfy feeling we all love about fall.
Quick and easy to whip up: Not an advanced mixologist? No worries! This apple cider margarita does not require any expert bartending skills, and with its quick prep time, entertaining doesn't get any easier.
That bubbly finish: Unlike most apple cider margarita recipes, we finish this cocktail with a splash of ginger beer or ale for an extra spice kick and an effervescent, fancy touch.
Makes for the perfect holiday signature cocktail: Whether you're hosting a Halloween party, Thanksgiving dinner or random fall gathering, put this apple cider cocktail on the menu. Those festive flavors are just begging to take center stage, and everyone will swoon over this fall touch to a classic margarita, making you look like the ultimate mixologist.
Bonus: Looking for another fall apple cocktail? Add my Poisoned Orchard Cocktail to the list! This Halloween cocktail is loaded with apple flavor, and I'm sure you'll love it as well.
Now for a few quick notes about our sparkling apple cider margarita ingredients.
Apple cider: Fresh apple cider is obviously the ingredient that sets apart this margarita. Store-bought apple cider works great, and there's certainly no need to feel like you need to make your own cider. But if you're up for it, you can use my homemade apple cider in this recipe.
Tequila: For our tequila, I highly recommend reposado tequila over blanco tequila. Reposado tequila ages in oak barrels anywhere from two months to up to a year while blanco tequila doesn't age at all.
The time in the barrels gives reposado tequila a smoother finish more complex flavor profile with vanilla and caramel notes that pair beautifully with our apple cider. Admittedly, I recommend reposado tequila for just about all margaritas because I prefer the richer taste and silky finish to blanco tequila's harsher bite. But I think it especially works well here with the apple spice.
Orange liqueur: And then there's our orange liqueur. Triple sec is your typical house orange liqueur, but to make this a top-shelf apple cider margarita, I suggest reaching for the Grand Marnier or Cointreau. While both premium brands are delicious, Grand Marnier is my top choice here, thanks to its brandy base, which nicely complements the apple cider.
Ginger beer or ginger ale: You may have also noticed I specify ginger beer or ale. Both give us fun bubbles, but ginger beer adds a stronger, spicier flavor while ginger ale brings a sweeter finish. This comes down to personal preference.
Let's show you how truly simple it is to prepare these delicious apple cider margaritas.
Prepare the Cinnamon-Sugar Rim
Step 1: For a beautiful cinnamon-sugar rim, we spread some cinnamon and brown sugar on a small plate, run a lime wedge along the edge of our serving glass and swirl the edge of the glass in the cinnamon-sugar mixture like so (photo 1). If you prefer a salt rim, you're certainly welcome to substitute that for the cinnamon and sugar, but I love sweet and spicy garnish here.
Mix the Apple Cider Margarita
Step 2: We grab our cocktail shaker and add the apple cider, tequila, orange liqueur and freshly squeezed lime juice (photo 2).
Step 3: Now we add a handful of ice cubes to the cocktail shaker (photo 3), put on the top and shake vigorously.
Pour and Garnish
Step 4: With our glass garnished, we add some ice and strain the margarita into the glass (photo 4) and then gently stir in our ginger beer or ale (photo 5).
Those are all the simple steps! If you'd like to be extra fancy with special garnishes, drop some fresh apple slices into the glass and place a decorative cinnamon stick on top.
How to Make a Pitcher of Apple Cider Margaritas
Prefer to make a pitcher for Halloween, Thanksgiving or fall party? No problem. Here's how to do just that.
- Stir together the apple cider, tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice in a pitcher.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. The fresh lime juice will start to lose its brightness after a day, which is why I recommend that time frame.
- When you're ready to serve, pour ¾ cup of the apple cider mixture per margarita into a cocktail shaker and shake as originally directed. Margaritas benefit from the aeration and dilution of shaking, so I still recommend shaking the drink.
You can find proportions for a pitcher serving in the notes section of the recipe card.
For the best flavor, you absolutely want to use freshly squeezed lime juice. It makes a world of difference. Bottled lime juice is not nearly as bright or fresh tasting. I can always tell when I get a margarita from a bar that does not use fresh lime juice — it's key to a making a high-quality margarita.
I do not recommend substituting apple juice for apple cider. They are very different products. Apple cider is made from a mash of fresh apples and comes with a spicier finish while apple juice is filtered, pasteurized and much lighter tasting.
We want to use a spiced, unfiltered apple cider. Without the additional spices, we'll miss out on those fun fall flavors, and unfiltered apple cider has a richer, more complex taste from the fresh apple pulp.
Absolutely, you can turn this into a frozen margarita with a little tweak. Instead of a cocktail shaker, pour the ingredients into a blender with ½ cup crushed ice and blend. If you'd like even more slush, you can add another ½ cup, but I like to start on the lower end to keep from diluting the drink too much.
You might also notice I specified crushed ice rather than full ice cubes. Crushed ice blends much more easily. If you don't have an ice machine that crushes ice, you can make your own by placing the crushed ice in a zip bag and smacking the ice with a rolling pin.
Variations and Substitutions
Make it a smoky apple cider margarita: If you like a touch of smoke, use 1 ounce mezcal and 1 ounce tequila.
Skip the bubbles: Don't want a fizzy drink? No problem. Simply leave out the ginger beer or ginger ale. This fall margarita is absolutely delicious whether you use the bubbly ginger topping or not.
Prepare a nonalcoholic version: You can use a zero-proof tequila or skip it altogether and use orange juice in place of the orange liqueur.
Try another spirit: If you have any guests who aren't tequila fans, try vodka, white rum or dark rum in its place.
Get your sparkles from the ginger ale or beer: Make sure you don't use sparkling apple cider, which is more like apple juice, or hard cider, which is alcoholic. We just want traditional, uncarbonated apple cider, which you can find in the produce section of your grocery store.
Add sweetener only if necessary: Apple cider varies in sweetness by brand. The apple cider I use is sweet enough that I don’t need additional sugar. That said, if you need more sweetener, you could use basic simple syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, or one of my fancy spiced syrups like this brown sugar-chai syrup or gingerbread syrup. I’d start with ½ ounce and then add more if necessary.
Get ripe limes: Pick limes that have some give when you press into them to ensure they’re still juicy. Plan for one lime per drink.
No cocktail shaker, no problem: If you don't have a cocktail shaker, you can use a large mason jar with a lid to shake your drink and then strain it.
This autumn margarita obviously calls for fall comfort food, and I have several perfect options. To complement those warm spices, try my apple cider pot roast or apple cider short ribs. You'll also love my apple-stuffed chicken with this margarita.
When you need the perfect fall cocktail, I hope you try this apple cider margarita. You'll adore every festive sip.
Looking for More Apple Cocktails?
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Sparkling Apple Cider Margarita
- Cocktail shaker
- Citrus juicer
- Jigger or small measuring cup
- Ground cinnamon
- Brown sugar
- Lime slice cut in the middle
Sparkling Apple Cider Margarita
- 2 ounces apple cider
- 2 ounces tequila preferably reposado
- 1 ounce orange liqueur preferably Grand Marnier or Cointreau
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice about 1 lime
- Splash of ginger beer or ginger ale (see note)
- Apple slice for garnish, optional
- Spread ground cinnamon and brown sugar on a small plate and mix together. Run a lime slice along the edge of your serving glass and swirl the rim in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat. Set the glass aside.
Sparkling Apple Cider Margarita
- In a cocktail shaker, add the apple cider, tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice and a handful of ice. Put on the top and shake vigorously, about 15-30 seconds.
- Add a handful of ice in your serving glass. Strain the margarita into the glass. Pour in a splash of ginger beer or ginger ale and gently stir to combine. If you'd like, garnish with an apple slice. Enjoy!
- Make sure you don't use sparkling apple cider, which is more like apple juice, or hard cider, which is alcoholic. We just want traditional, uncarbonated apple cider, which you can find in the produce section of your grocery store.
- Apple cider varies in sweetness by brand. The apple cider I use is sweet enough that I don’t need additional sugar. That said, if you need more sweetener, you could use basic simple syrup or maple syrup, or one of my fancy spiced syrups like this brown sugar-chai syrup or gingerbread syrup. I’d start with ½ ounce and then add more if necessary.
- Don't want a fizzy drink? No problem. Simply leave out the ginger beer or ginger ale. This fall margarita is absolutely delicious whether you use the bubbly ginger topping or not.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.