Sparkling Cara Cara Margaritas

Sparkling Cara Cara Margaritas
Skip those overly sweet bottled margarita mixes and make your own margaritas from scratch.  These refreshing, Sparkling Cara Cara Margaritas, with freshly squeezed citrus, tequila blanco, Cointreau and a splash of sparkling water, delivers bright flavor without the cloying, syrupy nature of the processed stuff. 


Three things about {Sparkling Cara Cara} Margaritas:

  1. Cinco De Mayo is approaching… fast.
  2. Memorial Day and SUMMER are also on their way.
  3. Margaritas are the unofficial libation of scorching hot weather and the swelter factor goes up by a factor of 10 if you happen to live in the tropics.

Therefore, it is imperative that you have a few recipes and riffs on how to make your own margaritas from scratch and serve as the signature cocktail for every barbecue, picnic, beach and poolside gathering for the next 3-4 months (only a slight exaggeration). Sparkling Cara Cara Margaritas are one of my favorites.


sliced cara cara oranges and limes on a marble background

Newsletter Signup
Join our community of food lovers!

Get my latest recipes, helpful kitchen tips and more good things each week in your inbox.


We’ve all had those margarita mixes before… syrupy, vaguely citrus-like — just add ice and tequila. Ok, so you add a lot of tequila — to detract from the sugary bomb of cocktail mix that shares the space with the liquor and ice in your glass.  Wouldn’t you rather have a margarita made from fresh juices?  For this refreshing cocktail I start with fresh limes and Cara Cara oranges.

freshly squeezed orange and lime juice with a strainer.

What Are Cara Cara Oranges?

Cara Cara, also known as red navels, are a seedless navel orange with a reddish-pink flesh and a sweet yet tangy ambrosia-like flavor. A cross between the Brazilian Bahia and Washington Navel Orange, they are a mid-season varietal and often come from California… Unless you live in Florida — where they are harvested in Indian River County… Florida citrus ROCKS!

orange juice in a measuring glass with a boston cocktail shaker.


Cara Cara oranges are wonderful for juicing or eating straight out of hand. For this twist on a classic margarita, I use both Cara Cara juice and lime juice to balance the sweet and sour flavors, instead of using a ton of simple syrup or agave.

photo of a hand holding a lime and rimming a glass with the lime juice. cocktail glass filled with crushed ice and a salt rim.


 Making Margaritas From Scratch

  1. After juicing the fruit, check to see if there’s an abundance of pulp.  If there is, run it through a fine mesh strainer. Personally, I like the pulp, but to each his own.
  2. Run a wedge of lime around the rim of the glasses. Lightly dip the rim of the glasses into margarita salt until the salt adheres. Fill the glasses with crushed ice. (I prefer crushed ice because it keeps the drink really cold – and where margaritas are concerned, I tend to drink them like Kool-Aid – so I have no worries about the marg getting watered down too quickly, but if you’re a sipper – stick with whole ice cubes.
  3. Pour the fresh juice into a cocktail shaker, along with tequila, Cointreau and a bit of simple syrup.
  4. Add ice cubes, secure the lid and shake until well blended and very cold. Strain into the prepared glasses. Top with a splash of sparkling water.  This may seem controversial.  Why would you want to add water to your margarita?  Two reasons: It adds a little fizz to the drink and — again — avoids the overly sweet nature of traditional margaritas.  If you’re sweltering in the hot sun, cutting the sweet will actually make the cocktail more refreshing.
  5. Garnish with a wedge of orange or lime or BOTH.
  6. Enjoy your Sparkling Cara Cara Margaritas under a shade umbrella, in your bathing suit and preferably with your toes in the sand.


juices, liquors and ice in a boston shaker.


I have two types of cocktail shakers. One is a traditional Boston Shaker and the other is a Cobbler Shaker that has a built in strainer. It’s really personal preference as to which one you use — both do an admirable job, but I’ve found that the Boston shaker can be a little tough to break the seal on after you’ve shaken the drink (as in, you have to bang it good a few times to break the suction) — maybe it’s just my weak arms. With the Cobbler shaker, you just remove the top and strain it into your glass.  Therefore when I’m making a drink myself, I go for the Cobbler, but when Scott is mixing — he uses the Boston shaker — I think it’s a GUY thing.

straining the margaritas through a boston shaker sieve into a prepared glass


For the sparkling water, you can use seltzer, club soda or even a bit of La Croix.

adding sparkling water to the cara cara margarita.


Italian prosecco, Spanish cava and sparkling wine work too — but I have to be honest, if there’s a bottle of chilled sparkling wine around, I might just take out my flute glasses and settle on that for the afternoon.  🙂

a hand holding the sparkling cara cara margarita A glass of Sparkling Cara Cara Margaritas with a lime wedge.

Print Pin
4.78 from 9 votes

Sparkling Cara Cara Margarita

Refreshing and light with bubbles that cut the sweetness.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Drinks
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword cocktails, margaritas, summer cocktails
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 2


  • 2 ounces tequila blanco I used Patron Silver
  • 1 ounce Cointreau can substitute triple sec
  • 1 ounce lime juice freshly squeezed (about 2 limes)
  • 4 ounces cara cara orange juice (about two oranges)
  • ½ ounce simple syrup or more to taste
  • splash sparkling water
  • ice cubes

Garnish & To Serve:

  • lime wedge
  • margarita salt
  • crushed ice
  • sliced lime
  • sliced cara cara orange


  • Juice enough orange and lime until you have the correct amount. If it's pulpy, strain through a fine mesh strainer.
  • Rub a wedge of lime around the rim of the glasses. Turn the glasses upside down and press the rim into the margarita salt.  Set aside.
  • In a Boston shaker, combine the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, orange juice and simple syrup.  Add ice cubes, secure the top on the shaker and shake until very cold. 
  • Fill the glasses with crushed ice and pour the margarita over the ice.  Add a splash of water and garnish with slices of lime and orange.  Serve.


Calories: 157kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 113mg | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 115IU | Vitamin C: 32.6mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.4mg

More Refreshing Summer Libations:

“Pin It” For Later!

Make margaritas from scratch and mix up the flavors! Sparkling Cara Cara Margaritas are light, refreshing & not overly sweet. With Cointreau and lime juice, this orange margarita strikes the right balance between sweet, tart & potent! #margarita #margaritas #orangemargarita #cointreaumargarita #margaritafromscratch #tequila #cointreau #grandmarnier #seltzer #sparklingwater #lacroix #caracaraoranges #oranges #lime #alcoholicbeverage #cincodemayo #cocktail #cocktailrecipe #4thofjuly #memorialday

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 5 stars
    I’m a margarita gal and so when I saw this post I stored the fact that I needed to specifically look for Cara Cara oranges. Mission accomplished. I picked up a bag of these delicious oranges at SAMS and the first taste of them…yep, in the margarita. Refreshing and perfect mix of flavors. Thanks Lisa – I love this recipe!

    1. I’m so glad you found the Cara Caras and enjoyed the margarita, Betty — I think this should be the summer of Margaritas!!!

  2. 5 stars
    I don’t like those store bought tequila mixes. They just don’t taste right. Your fresh citrus version looks amazing. This may be the refreshing libation this Summer. Thanks for this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    Looks like a perfect margarita. I’ve been looking for a recipe for guests coming tonight and I think this is exactly what i need!

  4. 5 stars
    This is the perfect drink for me! Just waiting for a beautiful summer day!

  5. 5 stars
    This sounds fantastic! Looks tasty! This recipe is perfect for me and my family. Yum Yum Yum! Now, this recipe will be one of my favorites. THANK YOU!

  6. 5 stars
    these look so refreshing and delicious! i absolutely love margaritas, definitely starting to build up my margarita recipe base for Cinco de Mayo!

  7. I made this tonight with rum instead of tequila (I’m not a fan of tequila) and it was delicious!! I think I may make it a couple more times this weekend, with the rest of the bag of oranges.

    1. I applaud your ingenuity! Rum sounds like a fine substitute. Did you use white or dark?

  8. 5 stars
    We’re looking at 88 degrees this afternoon (pool temp and air!) so these look perfect!