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Recipes: Apple Cider Margaritas Are Having a Moment—Here’s Why

Recipes: Apple Cider Margaritas Are Having a Moment—Here’s Why

There’s rarely an occasion that doesn’t call for a margarita. From a seasonally-inspired frozen version, ideally suited for a backyard barbecue, to a rich, ruby red rendition for Valentine’s Day, there’s a recipe to honor the moment. There’s even a bright blue interpretation for channeling your inner Smurf.

Our collective obsession with margaritas is probably one of the reasons why the apple cider margarita is currently blowing up on social media. The hashtag #applecidermargarita has more than 6.1 million views on Tiktok—a number sure to grow as we dig deeper into the holiday entertaining season. A version posted by @colbytroy has hit nearly 50,000 views in less than two months, while one made by @cocktailsandcardio in 2021 continues to have traction, with 100K likes and counting.

It’s a similar story on Instagram, where the hashtag is attached to nearly 2,000 posts—and far more when you account for variations of the term and added emojis. A reel posted by @ChampagneAng in October has already racked up more than 45K likes and hundreds of comments.

Given its popularity and obvious appeal—who doesn’t love apple cider, margaritas and festive drinks?—we decided to make our own Wine Enthusiast-approved version of the viral cocktail.

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How We Dress it Up

Our rendition hews as closely to the classic margarita as possible. It features the traditional mix of tequila, triple sec and lime, which conjures the drink’s signature sweet-and-sour flavor profile. But since it’s the holidays—and this attractive drink is seemingly designed for entertaining—we wanted to amp up its seasonality with lots of warmth and spice.

To do so, Wine Enthusiast assistant editor Jacy Topps, who developed the cocktail, decided to sub the silver tequila found in many margarita recipes (including several of the apple cider margaritas currently making the rounds on social media) for more flavorful and nuanced reposado tequila. “Because it’s aged longer, it’s livelier and spicier,” she says. “Those flavors complement the apple cider with a lot of spice, nuttiness, vanilla and a warmer mouthfeel.”

Another major difference between our recipe and the viral versions is the addition of triple sec. Many entirely forgo the orange-flavored liqueur, a core component of many classic margaritas. We argue that it’s necessary for balance and a touch of sweetness. After all, it’s a traditional margarita ingredient for a reason.

Lastly, we decided to follow the trend with a fun and festive cinnamon sugar rim. It not only looks great in photos, but actually helps “brighten those flavors of the drink,” says Topps. But rather than settle for the obvious sliced apple garnish, we kicked things up a notch with a cinnamon stick and whole pod of star anise—just to make sure your drink pics pop.

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How to Make an Apple Cider Margarita

Recipe by Jacy Topps

  • 1 ½ ounces tequila reposado
  • ¾ ounce triple sec
  • 3 ounces apple cider
  • ¾ ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • Cinnamon and sugar, for the rim
  • Star anise and cinnamon stick, for garnish


Step 1

Run the lime around the rim of a glass to moisten. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Step 2

Pouring ingredients into a cocktail shaker

Combine tequila, lime juice, triple sec and apple cider in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until cold, about 20 seconds.

Step 3

Adding a garnish to an Apple Cider Margarita

Strain the margarita into the glass with the sugar rim. Fill the glass with ice and garnish with star anise and cinnamon stick.

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