Margaritas are a popular cocktail consisting of tequila, triple sec, and freshly squeezed lime juice.
A true staple at Mexican restaurants and dinner parties, a standard margarita is strong, citrusy, sweet, and satisfyingly bitter.
Problem is, if you’re on a diet that restricts you from consuming certain amounts of carbohydrates, you need to know how many carbs are in everything.
This means that you need to plan your meals as well as your beverages, because (contrary to popular belief) beverages are filled with carbs, too.
So, if you’re on a low-carb diet, such as a ketogenic diet, you need to know how many carbs are in a margarita before you indulge in the beloved cocktail.
Here is everything you need to know about the nutritional value of a margarita, including the carbohydrate content.
What Is A Margarita Cocktail?
A margarita is a traditional Mexican-style cocktail that consists of tequila, triple sec, and freshly squeezed lime juice.
It’s tangy, sweet, and with just the right amount of bitterness to make for a refreshing drink to accompany a Mexican meal. It usually comes in a classic coupe glass with a salt rim.
Due to the popularity of margaritas around the world, there are several ways to make and consume a margarita.
They can come in their most traditional form, in a salt-rimmed glass, as well as on the rocks, or blending with ice and juices of fruits to make a margarita slushie.
How Many Carbs In A Margarita?
As with any food or drink, the amount of carbs in a margarita totally depends on what ingredients go in the drink.
The general recipe for a margarita is 1 ounce of triple sec or Cointreau, 2 ounces of tequila, and 1 ounce of lime juice.
However, these measurements can be easily doubled or amended to suit your personal preference, which will ultimately change the nutritional value of the drink.
To understand how many carbs are in a margarita, let’s take a look at how many carbs are in the three ingredients.
Tequila has 0 grams of carbs (which is why it’s such a popular spirit among those looking to lose weight), triple sec/Cointreau has 7 grams of carbs, and lime juice has 2.6 grams of carbs.
All together, a margarita with these ingredients would contain 9.6 grams of carbs. However, there are other factors to consider that will increase the amount of carbs in the drink.
In most cases, bartenders will add a small amount of simple syrup or agave to sweeten the drink.
This is because margaritas are notoriously bitter, and for those who don’t enjoy the taste of strong tequila and lime, bartenders will make the cocktail sweeter with sweeteners.
However, considering that half an ounce of agave syrup contains 11 grams of carbs, this immediately increases the overall carb content of the margarita. Suddenly, a margarita contains 21 carbs.
Unfortunately, not all bartenders will make a margarita in the traditional way unless you ask them too.
If you are making your own margaritas at home, you can control the carbohydrate content by checking the carbs on the bottle and by not adding agave.
Are Margaritas Keto-friendly?
Sadly, margaritas are not considered keto-friendly cocktails. This isn’t necessarily because of the carbohydrate content, however.
A standard keto diet recommended the consumption of less than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day to maintain ketosis.
While a classic margarita with no added sweeteners comes to just under 10 grams of carbs, this is still a fairly large dent in the daily allowance of carbs.
This is especially true if there are added sweeteners, which will double the carbohydrate content.
Unless you deliberately limit your carb intake to have a margarita with your dinner, or if you’re having a cheat day, it’s best to avoid drinking margaritas while on keto.
Also, the nature of the alcohol means you will probably want to drink more than one cocktail, so try to resist the temptation!
Not only does the carbohydrate content of margaritas make the cocktail not keto-friendly, but the inclusion of orange liquor makes this a highly sugary drink.
Triple sec or Cointreau is made of bitter orange peels and sugar beet alcohol, making them both high in carbs and sugar.
Why Are Carbs In Margaritas Bad?
Carbohydrates aren’t all bad – if anything, you need carbohydrates to maintain a healthy diet.
However, carbohydrates in alcohol are very different from carbs in food.
This is what makes counting carbohydrates in foods and drinks difficult, especially if you’re sticking to a strict low-carb diet.
After all, carbohydrates in food are stored as glucose in the body and liver, which our bodies then convert into energy.
This is why carbs are so filling and keep us active throughout the day. Alcohol, while high in carbs, doesn’t work in the same way.
The carbs in alcohol aren’t converted into anything useful, and instead just add to the calorie count.
In most cases, alcohol is high in carbohydrates. This is true for margaritas, beer, tequila sunrises, daiquiris, piña coladas, and a range of other cocktails and alcoholic beverages.
Not only this, but alcohol is filled with empty calories. Empty calories are basically calories that provide no nutritional value, containing no nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body needs.
Of course, as long as you consume these nutrients in other ways (such as food), it doesn’t make alcohol bad for you. It’s just something to consider if you’re losing weight.
You’ve also got to consider the sugar content in alcohol. People will often feel shaky, dizzy, light-heated, and giggly while drinking cocktails, but it’s not always because of the alcohol.
The sheer amount of sugar in cocktails adds to the empty calories, making for a drink that is not suitable for weight loss diets.
How To Make Low-Carb Margaritas
If you want to have a low-carb margarita, you can still treat yourself. The tequila and lime juice isn’t the problem, it’s the orange liquor.
So, when you visit a bar and ask the bartender for a margarita, ask to swap the orange liquor with stevia drops.
Stevia drops are basically zero calorie sweeteners that help to sweeten drinks without piling on the carbs.
However, the only problem is that not all bars will offer stevia drops, let alone orange-flavored stevia drops.
If the bartender doesn’t have these drops available, you will have to look for another keto-friendly cocktail instead.
In the vast majority of cases, tequila is a consistently low-carb drink, so you don’t have to worry about tequila being the problem with margaritas.
Likewise, the lime juice isn’t high in carbs – but it’s best to ask for freshly squeezed lime juice rather than a lime cordial, which can be filled with added sweeteners.
Alternatively, you can opt for lemon juice instead of lime juice, which contains slightly fewer carbs than lime juice.
Of course, it won’t have the same taste as a classic margarita, but it’ll be a good low-carb version.
If you are making a margarita at home, you have the freedom to choose what alcohol and sweeteners you add to the drink.
This means you can look at the carbohydrate content on each product, and you can even buy keto-friendly simple syrup to sweeten the bitter drink.
How Do You Order A Keto Margarita At A Bar?
The best way to ask for a keto margarita at a bar is to ask for a margarita without triple sec or Cointreau.
Unfortunately, this leaves you with just tequila and lime juice, which is a strong and bitter combination.
You will need some sort of sweetener that is low in carbs – however, not all bars will have this as an option.
Unless you bring your own stevia drops or keto-friendly simple syrup, you will need to look for another cocktail that is lower in carbs.
What Cocktails Are Low In Carbs?
Fortunately, there are several low-carb cocktail options for those on a keto or similar diet.
The only problem is that these cocktails aren’t typically sweet, and can be very strong. Just keep this in mind when you go to the bar while on a keto diet!
Some cocktails that are low in carbs include:
- Vodka or gin martini
- St. Germain Spritz
- Vodka LaCroix
- Dry Manhattan
- Cosmopolitan (with sugar-free cranberry juice)
- Dark and Stormy (with sugar-free ginger beer)
- Gin Fizz
- Vodka mojito
- Rooftop lemonade
- Old Fashioned
- Moscow Mule (with sugar-free ginger ale)
Of course, you can also just order straight shots or liquors on the rocks. The majority of liquors have absolutely no carbs, such as whiskey, vodka, tequila, and rum.
Just make sure to stay clear from the flavored versions of these liquors, which might add to the carbohydrate content.
So, there you have it! If you are on a low-carb diet such as the ketogenic diet, you might want to stay clear from margaritas.
While the tequila and lime juice are low in carbs, the triple sec is what makes this a carb-heavy cocktail.