I bought my wife that Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker, and it is awesome. We make a lot of margaritas, but always with pre-made mixes. I tried one recipe to make one from scratch, and it was HORRIBLE.
I tried using the 2:1:1 ratio described below - 2 parts tequila, 1 part triple sec, 1 part lime juice. It tasted just like a shot of tequila with a little lime.
What are some alternatives I can try to make it taste better?
My favorite ratio is the simple 2:1:1 (2 parts tequila, 1 part triple sec, 1 part lime)
The "official" ratio is 7:4:3, but that's more geared toward a crowd.
What I'd recommend is doing 2:1 and then adding lime until it tastes right. You can buy a sweetened lime syrup in the store, if you like the extra sugar.
You probably are used to having a lot of sugar in your mixes. Use lime-ade instead of lime juice, or add some simple syrup. Adding orange juice also helps. Of course, this isn't "traditional", but you'll probably like it better.
If you're looking for a ratio, I would try something like 2 parts tequila, 1 part triple sec, 2 parts lime-ade, 2 parts orange juice. Adjust the lime-ade and orange juice until it tastes good to you.
There has been a lot of debate over this topic. It usually boils down to preference. A neat ratio I have tried more than once is as follows:
2 parts tequila, 1 part fresh lime juice (yes, from a lime), 1 part lime juice (from concentrate, perhaps a lime-aid of sorts or a lime juice mix you like) and 1/2 part Cointreau or Grand Marnier (no Triple Sec unless you have no money and you are using Quervo ;--), and 1/4 part simple syrup.
Lately, I have been getting into making my own simple syrups for Margaritas. They fit in nicely in place of added sugar or orange flavored liquors or, in my example above, in conjunction with. Just dissolve 1:1 warm water and sugar, let cool, and bottle for later (be careful, though, long storage will lead to spoiling).
I like Bob's advice above, and adding OJ to margaritas is very good. One final trick I learned is to add a bit of pomegranate juice for color and tangy-ness.
Me and my wife had the same reaction to trying it the "official" way.
What found really did it for us was 1 can of concentrated frozen limeade mix and then half a can of tequila and 1/4 can of triple sec and just pour it all in a blender and it's delicious as well as super easy.
Was also delicious throwing in some fresh strawberries for a strawberry margarita.
Before you totally give up on the classic 'rita, you should really try it with good ingredients, and definitely feel free to adjust the proportions to your taste. My favorite simple margarita is 2oz Sauza Hornitos Reposado, 1oz Cointreau, and 1oz fresh squeezed lime juice, shaken with ice and served in a salt-rimmed rocks glass. My wife does like a little less sour, so I usually go 1½oz tequila, 1oz Cointreau, and ¾oz lime juice for her. You'll be amazed at how good tequila can taste!
The most important thing is starting with a reasonably good tequila. Cuervo Gold is just for shooting at the bar after you're already too drunk to taste anything. ;-)
As well as using quality ingredients, proper mixing technique is also important. A Margarita can be intimidatingly strong and/or sharp for those with a sweet tooth, if it hasn't been sufficiently diluted. Ice is one of the most important cocktail ingredients and getting it wrong can ruin a cocktail.
Shaking with ice will introduce some dilution and will help to smooth out the edges a little. It's therefore critical to add lots of ice to your shaker and shake the cocktail for at least ten seconds. If the shaker isn't covered in condensation and hasn't become uncomfortably cold to the touch, you haven't shaken the drink long enough.
2 oz Silver Tequila, 1 oz Orange Liquer, 1 oz Lime Juice, .5 - 1 tblsp agave nectar