Cadillac Margarita (El Cadí)

By Audrey Morgan

A Grand Marnier float takes this riff from Karla Flores-Mercado over the top.


There’s no one specific recipe for the Cadillac Margarita, and it might mean something different to whomever you ask. For Karla Flores-Mercado, proprietor of Bar Flores and other establishments in Los Angeles, it brings to mind Southern California’s old-school Mexican restaurants like Acapulco, where she bartended early in her career, serving Cadillac Margaritas with a shot of Grand Marnier for customers to pour over the drink.

At Bar Flores, Flores-Mercado created the El Cadí in homage to restaurants that include Acapulco and El Compadre, home of the Flaming Margarita. In lieu of sour mix, Flores-Mercado’s version includes fresh lemon and lime juices for tartness, along with an earthy highlands tequila, agave syrup, and a Mexican orange liqueur. Finally, she tops the drink with a Grand Marnier float as a nod to the Acapulco Cadillac.

“The Grand Marnier gives it a different vibe from just whipping up a sour,” says Flores-Mercado. “You get a little more booze but there’s also added sweetness, so it makes the Margarita a little easier to drink for some people.”

For the tequila base, Flores-Mercado opts for El Tesoro Blanco, a benchmark highlands-style tequila with a rich mouthfeel and long spicy finish. “The earthiness really comes through in Margaritas,” she says. Since the bar program places an emphasis on sourcing Mexican spirits, Flores-Mercado uses Naranja Licor de Naranja, which she says is less sweet and more citrus-forward than other orange liqueurs. She also splits the sour component between lemon and lime juice, making for a slightly tarter drink that helps to balance the added sweetness from Grand Marnier.

What Is a Cadillac Margarita?
Again, there’s not one spec, but the Cadillac is generally a richer, more opulent version of the classic Margarita (blanco tequila and lime juice, sweetened with orange liqueur and/or agave syrup). A quick online search might yield recipes that call for lightly aged reposado tequila instead of the usual blanco, or the cognac-based orange liqueur Grand Marnier either swapped in for other triple secs or added to the drink as a float. Some Cadillacs are simply differentiated by the brand of tequila used, which is why you’ll often see somewhat meaningless terms like “premium” and “top shelf.”

The origins of the Cadillac Margarita are murky, but it was popularized in the 1980s and ‘90s as chain restaurants began adding Cadillacs to their menus with substitutions like higher-end tequilas and the aforementioned Grand Marnier.


- 1 1/2 ounces El Tesoro Blanco Tequila
- 1/2 ounce Naranja Licor de Naranja
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce agave syrup
- 1/2 ounce Grand Marnier, to float
- Garnish: salt rim

1. Rub the rim of a double Old Fashioned glass with a lime wedge, and dip a quarter of the glass in salt to coat. Set aside.

2. Combine all ingredients except the Grand Marnier in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 25 seconds.

3. Double-strain through a fine-mesh sieve into the prepared glass over fresh ice

4. Float Grand Marnier on top.

Originally Published: