Five Places to Find Skinny Margaritas in the Valley -- and a Recipe to Make Your Own

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The Margarita Lite at Islands
Courtesy of Islands Restaurants
It used to be that if we wanted a margarita under 100 calories, we'd just take a shot of tequila, salt first, lime last.

But there's a new trend blending behind the bar. From Islands to Blanco Tacos, low-cal margaritas -- most often created with agave nectar and lime juice for flavor -- are popping up on bar tabs everywhere, letting us have our margaritas -- and stay beach-ready, too.

We burned up a few calories tracking down five places in town that serve skinny margs. We bet you have some ideas, too -- so leave them in the comments and we'll do a follow-up post if we get enough. Have other skinny cocktail ideas? Leave those, too. 

1. Islands Restaurants: Their "Margarita Lite" may be petite, but it's simple and sweet, featuring Patron Silver, agave nectar, fresh lime juice and just a splash of Triple Sec for $9.

2. Blanco Tacos and Tequila in Scottsdale adds club soda to organic tequila, agave nectar and lime juice for a refreshing skinny margarita around $10.

Check out more places -- and a recipe -- after the jump.

3. Z'Tejas: Just another lean, uncomplicated glass of lime juice, tequila, and soda water - sweetened with agave nectar at $8.95.

Hannah Hayes
The Skinny Margarita at Z'Tejas
4.San Felipe's Cantina: For $9, San Felipe's "Skinny Dip" features lemon juice instead of lime and is sweetened with a strawberry-pineapple mixture.

5. Blue Adobe Santa Fe Grille in Mesa has their own "Skinny Dip" version, but it's for two, and it has a twist. Not only is this agave-nectar margarita also sweetened with fresh orange juice, but it comes with a "sunken Cornito" (a 7 oz. Corona) and it's served in a jar ($14.95).

Those prices too rich for your blood? Here's a recipe to make your own skinny margarita.

You'll need:
• 1-1/2 oz Silver tequila (which has less calories than standard tequila)
• 1 oz Triple Sec (Cointreau) Note: 1 oz = 80 calories
• 2-3 lime wedges
• Glass

1. Pour mixture into a shaker with ice cubes or stir together; chill.
2. Optional: circle the rim of the glass with a cut lime, dip into a plate of salt crystals.
3. Pour into a glass and serve over crushed ice.

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Tequila has the same amount of calories whether it's blanco, reposado, or añejo: 98 calories in a 1.5 ounce shot. For that matter, any 80 proof hard liquor, be it vodka, gin, rum, brandy, or whisky, is the same. 

Tequila with soda, lime juice, and sweetener isn't a margarita, it's a tequila rickey. While tequila rickeys are quite refreshing, they just ain't margaritas. Now to find a bartender who doesn't give me the starving puppy look when I ask for one. 

The recipe you give isn't a skinny margarita, it's a right and proper margarita: 3 parts tequila, 2 parts triple sec, 1 part fresh-squeezed lime juice. Depending on the sweetness of your triple sec, you may want to add a dash of simple syrup or a little extra lime so it suits your taste.

Agave nectar is a bar trend that I would love to see die off. While places from here to Jalisco are touting agave nectar as a traditional ingredient in margaritas, it was all but unknown until a few years ago. It brings no more flavor to the party than plain ol' simple syrup, it's at least an order of magnitude more expensive than simple syrup, and the very high fructose content of agave nectar means it screws with your metabolism worse than high fructose corn syrup does. That's right folks, these "skinny" margaritas in the long run will help you GAIN weight! You can read up more about those details at

David Mccallum
David Mccallum

Just tried that simple recipe and it's exactly as promised.  The best margarita since the old Raul's south of Rosarito!

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