Vodka makes a fine substitute for tequila in a margarita. In fact, the resulting cocktail even has its own name: the vodkarita. Naturally, the drink tastes different from a regular margarita, but don’t let that put you off. The blander taste of vodka compared to tequila allows for plenty of experimentation to create new vodkarita flavors.

The Margarita’s Mixed Heritage

Fans of the margarita might argue that substituting the traditional tequila with vodka is spoiling a classic. They might say the classic margarita should never be tampered with. However, a little research reveals the drink isn’t as purebred as some believe. Like many famous cocktails, the margarita has a somewhat long and convoluted history.

One of the most popular drinks of the 1930s and '40s was a drink called the “daisy.” This cocktail’s ingredients included lime or lemon juice, alcohol and grenadine, all poured onto shaved ice. Drinkers could choose the alcohol they wanted. Some drinker might order a whiskey daisy, while others wanted a gin daisy.

Another type of daisy was the tequila daisy. The ingredients for this cocktail were tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur and soda. Eventually, this version of the daisy, along with a Mexican ingredient, became known by the Spanish word for daisy: margarita. The original daisy cocktail was forgotten as other drinks took its place, and now, the margarita is the star of the show.

Margarita With Vodka

The margarita cocktail continues to evolve, and bars offer the drink in a host of different flavors. In this great tradition of trying something new with an old favorite, one version of the margarita is the vodkarita. The usual margarita tequila recipe simply replaces the tequila with an equal amount of vodka. The other ingredients remain the same.

So if you’re simply out of tequila and want to use vodka instead, follow a regular margarita recipe of lime juice, agave syrup and an orange liqueur, and add vodka. Some delicious orange liqueurs include Cointreau, Grand Marnier and triple sec. Agave syrup adds a special Mexican sweetness for those who dislike sour margaritas. Leave out the syrup if you or your guests don’t have a sweet tooth.

Total Time: Five minutes | Prep Time: Five minutes | Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce agave syrup
  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur
  • Lime wheel to garnish

Directions

  1. Pour the vodka, lime juice, agave syrup and orange liqueur into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Fill the shaker with ice and shake the ingredients for 10 to 15 seconds.
  3. Fill a rocks glass with ice, and strain the cocktail into the glass.
  4. Cut a slit in the lime wheel and slip it on the glass edge as a garnish.

Vodkarita and Salt

A salt-rimmed glass adds a professional touch to a vodkarita, and sipping the drink through the salt brings out the cocktail’s flavors. If you’d like to take this extra step when making your drink, remember to coat the glass rim with salt before you begin making the cocktail. You’ll need a liquid to help the salt stick to the glass.

Lime or lemon juice add a nice tang to the salt, but if you don’t have either juice, you can use water. Pour the liquid into a saucer or shallow bowl to a depth of about 1/4 inch, and pour a layer of regular salt about ¼-inch deep in a second saucer or bowl. Turn the glass upside-down and dip the rim in the liquid before immediately dipping it in the salt.

You might need to practice a few times to get the amount of salt just right. There should be enough salt to taste it, but on the other hand, you don’t want to make your guests feel sick. Instead of moistening the rim of the glass before dipping it in salt, wipe the rim with a lime or lemon wedge. If you’re only making one or two vodkaritas, this method might be more convenient.

Variations on the Vodkarita

Variations on the margarita abound, and the same applies to the vodkarita. It’s fun to experiment with different citrus or fruit juices and try out different liqueurs. What’s more, the results can be surprisingly tasty. Here are a few suggestions.

A peach vodkarita is a drink for sultry summer evenings by the pool or out on the deck. The sweetness of the peach flavor contrasts with sour lemon juice, and the alcohol in the drink relaxes the body and mind after a long day. Garnish the cocktail with a slice of fresh peach for a touch of decoration and as a nod toward a healthy diet.

Total Time: Five minutes | Prep Time: Five minutes | Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 ounces peach-flavored vodka
  • 1 ounce triple sec
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • Slice of fresh peach

Directions

  1. Pour the vodka, triple sec, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Fill the shaker with ice.
  3. Shake the mixture vigorously for about 10 seconds.
  4. Fill a rocks glass with ice.
  5. Strain the cocktail into the glass.
  6. Cut a diagonal slit from the center of the flesh side of the peach slice to halfway along to the skin.
  7. Slip the peach slice onto the glass as a garnish.

Tip

The traditional salt-coated rim of a glass of margarita might make a peach-flavored vodkarita taste strange. As an alternative, dip the glass rim in water and then in demerara sugar before adding the ice and the cocktail.

Vodkaritas are all about light, refreshing flavors. This variation combines the juices of two of the lightest, most refreshing fruits and vegetables you can find: lime and cucumber. If you’re entertaining and you don’t want to spend too much time away from your guests, pre-prepare the cucumber juice. Put the juice in your refrigerator and use it the same day.

Total Time: Ten minutes | Prep Time: Five minutes | Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • Cucumber and lime wedges

Directions

  1. Peel the cucumber and discard the peel.
  2. Chop the cucumber into a few pieces and put them in a blender.
  3. Blend the cucumber until it turns entirely to pulp.
  4. Strain the cucumber pulp through a fine strainer into a measuring cup, pushing the pulp gently through the mesh.
  5. Discard the solid pulp residue.
  6. Fill a tall glass with ice.
  7. Pour the vodka, lime juice and 3 ounces of cucumber juice into the glass.
  8. Stir the mixture gently, and garnish the drink with a wedge of cucumber and another of lime.

Tip

The juice from 1 cucumber is about enough for two lime and cucumber vodkaritas.

For a real divergence from the regular margarita/vodkarita cocktail, go for coconuts. Mixed with lime and orange liqueur, coconut gives this vodkarita a tropical flavor. Coconut cream adds creaminess to the drink, and lime juice cuts through the smoothness with a nice tang. The secret ingredient in this cocktail is toasted coconut, but be careful to not spill the beans to your guests.

Total Time: Ten minutes | Prep Time: Five minutes | Serves: 3

Ingredients

  • 1 can cream of coconut
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup triple sec
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut
  • Lime wedge

Directions

  1. Put the coconut cream, vodka, crushed ice, fresh lime juice, triple sec and 1 tablespoon of the toasted coconut in a blender.
  2. Blend the ingredients until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Spread the rest of the toasted coconut on a small plate or shallow bowl.
  4. Rub the rims of the glasses with the lime wedge, and then dip the rims in the toasted coconut.
  5. Pour the cocktail into the glasses, and serve.

Skinny Vodkarita

It’s hard to enjoy a cocktail if you’re worrying about your waistline, but sometimes you need to indulge yourself a little. Fresh fruit replaces syrup and liqueur to supply the sweetness of this skinny vodkarita. Sparking water provides fizz and helps this drink taste like a delicious alcoholic soda, only much more healthy.

Total Time: Ten minutes | Prep Time: Five minutes | Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh peach
  • 10 medium-size frozen strawberries
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 6 ounces chilled sparkling mineral water
  • Small, fresh strawberries as garnish
  • Cocktail sticks

Directions

  1. Peel and chop the peach.
  2. Put the peach pieces, frozen strawberries, vodka and crushed ice in a blender.
  3. Blend the ingredients until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Divide the mixture into two rocks glasses.
  5. Pour 3 ounces of sparkling mineral water into each glass and stir until all the ingredients are mixed.
  6. Thread one or more small fresh strawberries onto cocktail sticks as garnishes for the drinks.

Vodkarita Mix Recipe

A bottle of vodkarita mix in the refrigerator is handy for making the drink quickly or surprising unexpected visitors with a delicious cocktail. This recipe doubles up on the citrus flavoring by including both lemon and lime juice and the zest of both fruits. As well as zing, the zest adds color, resulting in a lovely pale yellow-green cocktail. Carefully grate off only the colored part of the fruit skins and not the bitter, white pith under the surface.

Total Time: Fifteen minutes | Prep Time: Fifteen minutes | Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 3 large lemons
  • 5 large limes
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Grate the zest (the colored surface of the skin) from the lemons using the fine section of your grater to make 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
  2. Grate the zest from the limes to make 2 teaspoons of lime zest.
  3. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into a small bowl.
  4. Squeeze the juice from the limes into a separate bowl.
  5. Put zest from both fruits, the sugar and the salt into a saucepan.
  6. Add 2/3 cup of lemon juice and 1 cup of lime juice.
  7. Heat the saucepan to medium heat and stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.
  8. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
  9. When the mixture is cold, pour it into an airtight bottle.
  10. Store the bottle in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Tip

To make a cocktail from the vodkarita mix, pour 2 ounces of the mix and 2 ounces of vodka into a cocktail shaker, fill the shaker with ice, and shake for about 10 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a glass. To make a pitcher of vodkarita, pour the entire bottle of mix into a pitcher, and then stir in 2 cups of vodka. Chill the drink in the refrigerator until it's cold.

About the Author

Jenny Green

Jenny Green has a Masters in English literature and has been a freelance writer since 2008.