Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Tequila & Mezcal Cocktails

Mexican Martini

A Margarita meets a Dirty Martini in this Austin favorite.

Mexican Martini cocktail in a large coupe glass with lime wedge and olive garnish. / Tim Nusog

The Mexican Martini isn’t especially Mexican, or even a Martini. But for decades, it’s been the unofficial signature cocktail of Austin, Texas, where it has a deeply devoted following.

Essentially a Margarita variation, the Mexican Martini was originally created at Austin’s Cedar Door over 40 years ago. As with many cocktail origin stories, the drink’s genesis is a little fuzzy. But according to local bar lore, a Cedar Door employee visited a small border town in Mexico in the early 1980s and was struck by how the Margaritas were served there: up, in an elegant Martini-style glass, rather than on the rocks or in a large Margarita glass. The bar adopted this idea and gave it the Mexican Martini moniker, taking the combination further with olive garnishes and eventually even adding a little olive brine to the mix itself.

On paper, this Margarita and Dirty Martini mashup may seem a little odd, but for the legion of fans who’ve put away Texas-sized amounts of Mexican Martinis over the years, the sweet and savory combo works just fine. 

The traditional Margarita ingredients of tequila, Cointreau, and fresh lime juice get a saline boost from a half-ounce of green-olive brine—directly from the jar, as they do it at the Cedar Door. Salt is well known to enhance the flavors of tequila, and the brine delivers on that while adding earthy, savory qualities to the drink. This recipe from Cedar Door offers the option to add a salted rim to the glass, but you may not need it with the brine and olive garnish additions.


  • 2 ounces tequila

  • 1 1/2 ounces Cointreau

  • 1 1/2 ounces lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/2 ounce green olive brine, from the jar

  • Garnish: salt rim (optional)

  • Garnish: lime wedge

  • Garnish: olives


  1. Rub the rim of a Martini glass with a lime wedge, dip the rim in salt to coat, and set aside (optional).

  2. Add the tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and olive brine to an ice-filled shaker and shake until well chilled.

  3. Strain into a chilled Martini glass.

  4. Garnish with olives and a lime wedge.

What's the Best Tequila to Use in a Mexican Martini?

Cedar Door's official recipe for the Mexican Martini calls for "your favorite tequila" to be used. The recipe has been featured in multiple publications calling for everything from unaged blanco tequila to reposado and even an añejo bottlings.

Blanco tequila works well for cocktails with bright citrus flavors, while a reposado can bring out the earthy, saline notes of the olive brine. It all depends on your personal preferences. To help guide you, refer to our guide on The Differences Between Blanco, Reposado, and Añejo Tequila.