The Problem People Had With Alton Brown's Original Margarita Recipe

As Jimmy Buffet once famously prescribed, "If life gives you limes, make margaritas." For once, it's refreshing to hear a piece of advice that's easy to follow — but still not quite as refreshing as that chilled margarita at 4:49 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Today, many mixologists like to get creative with their mixes, like this frozen margarita featuring avocado and cilantro. However, when it comes to cocktails, changing just one or two ingredients can transform one drink into a totally different recipe. Grapefruit soda and tequila is a Paloma, but grapefruit soda and vodka is a Greyhound (per Especially when it comes to a longstanding, beloved cocktail staple like margaritas, regardless of how you choose to spice it up, the most important thing is that the fundamental ingredients remain present and accounted for.

That's why celebrity chef and television personality Alton Brown caught flack earlier this year for his original margarita recipe. In April, Brown (host of Food Network show "Good Eats" and regular on "Iron Chef America" and "Cutthroat Kitchen") published "Good Eats 4: The Final Years," a cookbook with recipes inspired by his cooking show. Many fans took issue with the chef's margarita recipe — it omitted one key ingredient that, to many mixologists, makes a margarita the cocktail giant it is.

Where's the triple sec?

In a video released earlier this year, Alton Brown addressed fan criticism of his original margarita recipe. The missing ingredient? Triple sec. Triple sec is a type of clear orange liqueur considered by many bartenders to be an integral building block of the simple margarita (via VinePair). On the more technical side, triple sec is alcohol (brandy and vodka, per Brown's updated recipe) infused with unripe orange peels during maceration (according to the website simply called Triple Sec – yes, really). The orange flavor complements the natural citrus flavors of the lime juice, adding dimensionality to a simple margarita.

Lime juice, tequila, triple sec, and sometimes, simple syrup are typically considered the fundamental ingredients of the margarita — which Brown agrees with in his video. Some folks might argue that a salted rim is a crucial ingredient to the cocktail too, but we digress. For a tried-and-true triple sec for your marg, try Combier Liqueur D'Orange. Namesake founder Jean-Baptiste Combier created the liqueur in Saumur, France in 1834 — the world's first triple sec to ever hit the market. The recipe features a bitter, citrus, orange-heavy taste, and 40% ABV to boot. Pair it with Espolòn Blanco Tequila, made with 100% Blue Weber agave, to give a complementary sweet and citrusy base to your margarita — made the traditional way.