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We Got Drunk On Margaritas For Science

The margarita is one of those rare iconic cocktails that have a half-dozen recipes that can each lay claim to being the best, which poses some problems for your everyday margarita drinker. If you turn to the internet for help, you’ll find hundreds of recipes, and it can be tough to tell which ones are worth your while. The overabundance of choice means a person can find essentially any permutation of tequila, orange liqueur and lime billing itself as a marg.

We wanted to find the best margarita recipe, so we pulled 78 of the internet’s suggestions — we ignored all those lamentable sour-mix concoctions and coconut-pomegranate-passionfruit abominations, focusing just on the beverages anchored by tequila, lime juice and orange liqueur. Then we applied something called a k-means clustering algorithm to determine the four main types of margaritas. Taking a mere average would have resulted in a monstrosity of a drink that was trying to be several things at once, but the clustering algorithm gives us several distinct platonic ideals of a margarita, letting our human taster determine which one is best.

In the video above, you can see us head to Dutch Kills bar in lovely Queens, New York, to test those recipes and figure out which is the best of the bunch. Here are your contenders.

The Classic
1 1/2 oz. tequila
3/4 oz. orange liqueur
3/4 oz. lime juice

The Tequila-Forward
1 1/2 oz. tequila
1/4 oz. orange liqueur
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz. agave nectar

The Sweet & Easy
1 1/2 oz. tequila
3/4 oz. orange liqueur
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. agave nectar
1/2 oz. water
1/4 oz. lemon juice

The Limey & Tart
1 1/2 oz. tequila
1/4 oz. orange liqueur
1 1/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Watch the video to see which recipe won!

Walt Hickey is FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.

Christine Laskowski is a video producer for FiveThirtyEight.

Tony Chow is a video producer for FiveThirtyEight.

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