I had chispa margaritas for the first time after we moved to San Antonio. Right after we’d settled here, we hit up a nearby Mexican joint called Mirasol, which is famous for their chispas. Because I’ve never had one, I decided to indulge in a couple. Somehow, those “a couple” turned into eleventytwenty…or, something like that. Saying I was beyond my limit would is an understatement. In my defense, though, they snuck up on me.
Chispas have a reputation for being clandestine in their potency. They hardly taste of alcohol and they’re so refreshing- especially here in hot-as-hell Texas. The great thing about them is that they’re more natural than the traditional margarita. Because they don’t contain any sweet and sour mix, they just taste better. My version is even more all-natural because only contains tequila, agave syrup, and fruit juice.
What is a Chispa?
Chispa means “spark” in English. Now, I’m not a linguist, nor did I create this recipe, but I’m willing to bet it is named so because of how lit you get after drinking too many.
From the intel I’ve gathered, this margarita the chispa is a San Antonio invention. It was created as an alternative to those cloyingly-sweet margaritas that contain sweet and sour mix. Instead, orange liqueur is mixed into the margarita. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than happy to drink this version after reading the ingredients list on the back of a bottle of sweet and sour.
Besides the omission of sweet and sour, chispas are pretty much the same as a regular margarita. Because I want mine to be as natural as possible, I’m even omitting the triple sec (or grand marnier) that’s commonly used in chispas, and replacing it with orange juice. What’s that you say? You think removing the triple sec will leave you with less alcohol?? No, no my friend. I would never offer you a weak cocktail, I’m better than that. I’m replacing that orange liqueur with more tequila.
Let’s get sparked.
What Goes into these Chispa Margaritas?
The most important ingredient in this recipe is tequila. The remaining ingredients are fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, and agave syrup (to sweeten things up). Ice is used to chill the cocktail, and we’re also going to use it in the glasses. Sea salt (or cocktail salt) for rimming your glasses and a fancy garnish of sliced lime or orange to make the drink pretty, are options too.
Prep Your Glasses
I prefer to prep my cocktail glasses before getting started on the chispa-mixing. It gives the salt time to dry against the glass, which means it won’t fall off as easy when you handle it.
To rim your glasses, use one of the lime halves to wet the side of your cocktail glass. I’ve taken to only salting half of the rim because licking around the entire glass looks kind of raunchy. Sprinkle coarse salt onto the moistened area. Set the glasses aside after they’ve been salted to allow them to dry.
Assemble the Chispa Margaritas Ingredients
Please. Please, do not use bottled lime or orange juice to make this chispa margarita. I’m begging you. Since this is a very minimalistic cocktail, it requires the freshest flavors. Use the fresh citrus. If not for the sake of flavor, for the sake of preventing scurvy, or something.
With a citrus reamer, juice the limes and naval orange. You’ll only need a small orange juice because we don’t want orange to be the predominant flavor.
Fill a cocktail shaker with the lime juice.
Next, add the orange juice to the cocktail shaker.
To sweeten the chispa, add 1-2 tablespoons of Agave syrup. If you’re not a fan of sweet cocktails, you can omit the agave syrup altogether. Why agave? Well, why not? Since the tequila is made with agave, using agave syrup to sweeten it just makes sense. If you don’t have agave syrup, use simple syrup, instead:
Easy Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
In a saucepan, stir together the water and sugar. Bring the mixture up to a boil over medium-high heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar crystals.
Once the mixture boils, remove it from the heat and allow to cool before using it in the recipe.
Ice the Chispa Base
Add a handful of ice to the sweetened juices in the cocktail shaker.
Your Chispa Margaritas Need a Good Tequila
Do not use bootleg, trash tequila in this cocktail. Because we’re making a fresh, vibrant chispa, the quality and smoothness of the tequila is a priority. Raise your hand if you want a kerosene flavored chispa? Anyone? No. I didn’t think you did. If you have ratchet friends like I do (and, yes, I’m just as ratchet as they are), you’ve probably been convinced to take more than your fair share of tequila shots. When it came to my friends, we were all spending money we didn’t have on liquor, so we were scraping the bottom shelves of liquor stores and bars. We ended up doing shots of tequila mixto.
Tequila mixto is 51% blue agave tequila that’s been cut with 49% other stuff- usually sugar cane liquor. As a result, the liquor is inferior when compared to the pure, unadulterated 100% blue agave tequila. The latter is smoother, crisper, and can often be sipped like an aged scotch. You’re drinking mixto if a sip of it has to follow a lick of salt and chased with lime to ease the burn. Yes, Jose Cuervo is a mixto. Hence the reason I can no longer smell mixtos without wanting to hurl. If your bottle of tequila is brown- and it’s not a reposado or añejo- you’ve probably picked up a tequila mixto. Read the bottle’s label, if it doesn’t say “100% Blue Agave”, it’s a mixto and you need to keep it moving. Life is short. Stop drinking mixtos.
Since there’s no way to disguise the flavor of a bad tequila in this recipe, use a quality one like Herradura. Casamigos is another good tequila. When in doubt, go basic with Patrón.
Add the tequila to the cocktail shaker.
Shake, Shake, Shake
There’s nothing to it but to do it. Put the cap on your shaker and shake vigorously until the shaker frosts over. That’s an indicator that everything is nice and cold inside.
Strain the chispa margarita mixture into your rimmed cocktail glasses. Take care not to splash any on that stellar salt rim you created.
Garnish the chispas margaritas anyway your precious heart desires. Or don’t.
To create my garnish I went whimsical by thinly slicing a lime and an orange. Fold the two lime slices in half, then fold one of the orange slices in half. Thread the folded slices onto a cocktail pick, sandwiching the orange in the middle of the limes. I propped my garnish on the side opposite my salted rim.
Enjoy Your Chispa Margaritas Responsibly
Let’s recap. What does chispa mean again? Thhaaaaaat’s right! SPARK! Spark describes the amount of power this little, unassuming cocktail has within. Disregard my reminder and you’re going to get lit. Heed my warning. This chispa margarita is smooth, crisp, and addictively refreshing.
Enjoy responsibly, please.
Pitcher this Chispa Margaritas Recipe for Your Next Fiesta
If you plan to serve this to your crew of 6 or more, quadruple the recipe and pour it into a tall pitcher. Pour to your heart’s content.
Sip a little bit of San Antonio, Texas, at home this year. With everything going on, Cinco de Mayo won’t look the same, but it can still “sparkle”.
Enjoy and be sure to share this recipe with your friends and family!
This San Antonio native is slick. Potent, but so tasty you don't mind it sneaking up on you.
- 3/4 cups (6 ounces) lime juice freshly squeezed
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) orange juice freshly squeezed
- 1-2 tablespoons agave sweetener (or simple syrup, recipe in notes)
- 1 cup ice
- 1/2 cup tequila blanco
- lime or orange wheels
- sea salt for rimming the glasses
Prepare your Glasses
Rub a lime half against the side of your cocktail glasses.
Once the glass is wet, sprinkle coarse salt onto the moistened area. Set the glasses aside after they've been salted to allow them to dry.
Shake the Chispa Margaritas
Fill a cocktail shaker with the lime juice, orange juice, and agave sweetener to taste.
Add the ice and tequila to the sweetened juices in the cocktail shaker.
Put the cap on your shaker and shake vigorously until the shaker frosts over.
Strain the chispa margarita mixture into your rimmed cocktail glasses. Taking care not to splash any on the salt rim.
Garnish the glasses with decorative slices of limes and orange.
Substitute Agave Syrup with Simple Syrup:
Simple Syrup Recipe:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
- In a saucepan, stir together the water and sugar.
- Bring the mixture up to a boil over medium-high heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar crystals.
- Once the mixture boils, remove it from the heat and allow to cool before using it in the recipe.
- Thinly slice a lime and an orange.
- For each cocktail, fold two lime slices and one orange slice in half.
- Thread the folded slices onto a cocktail pick, sandwiching the orange in the middle of the limes.
- Prop the garnished cocktail picks on the side opposite the salted rim.
Pitcher Chispas (for 6 or more servings):
3 cups lime juice
2 cups orange juice
1/2-1/2 cup agave syrup
4 cups ice
2 cups tequila blanco
- Combine the ingredients together in a tall pitcher.
- Stir vigorously to combine.
- Serve in salt-rimmed glasses.
If you liked these Chispa Margaritas
you’ll love my other tequila recipes: