For those new to the spirit, tequila is a Mexican spirit made with fermented, roasted, and distilled Blue Weber agave. Its heart is the town of Tequila in the state of Jalisco, but it can be produced in a handful of other states as well. Tequila is a versatile spirit. It’s a great spirit for sipping neat, on the rocks, and mixed into many classic and contemporary cocktails. The latter is what we’re concerned with today.
There are various types of tequila, and while some are better for sipping neat, all are well-suited for mixing. Blanco (or silver) tequila is unaged or lightly aged in oak barrels before being bottled. It’s known for its agave sweetness and light vanilla flavors. When it comes to mixing, it’s the best value.
Joven is also great for mixing as it’s a blend of aged and unaged tequilas. It has a little more flavor than blanco. The next level is reposado. Aged between two and twelve months, it has heightened flavors of agave, vanilla, caramel, and oak. The next two levels are añejo and extra añejo. These longer-matured tequilas are good for mixing, but their higher price tag and nuanced flavors (akin to whiskey) make them much better for sipping neat or on the rocks.
Tequila is a great spirit for mixing. It’s the base for some of the most well-known classic cocktails ever made. This includes the Paloma, Margarita, Tequila Sunrise, and more. Keep scrolling to see five of our favorite tequila drinks below.
5. Tequila Sunrise
This iconic cocktail was first created in Arizona in the 1930s before having a revival in the 1970s in California. It might not be the most popular cocktail, but this combination of orange juice, tequila, and grenadine is as timeless as it is refreshing and delicious. It gets its name because the addition of the red-hued grenadine on top of the orange juice makes it look like a sun rising over the horizon. It’s sweet and citrus-filled, with just the right amount of agave tequila flavor.
One of the most popular tequila drinks of all time, the Paloma was invented by owner and bartender Don Javier Delgado Corona at La Capilla in Tequila, Mexico in 1961. Made with tequila, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and a slice of lime, the renowned bartender was known to stir the drink with the knife he used to cut the limes. It’s fresh and filled with agave and citrus flavor. Some drinkers like to add a salt rim to elevate the flavors.
3. Bloody Maria
We all know about the Bloody Mary. This breakfast cocktail is made with vodka, tomato juice, hot sauce, lemon, horseradish, and other spices. To make a Bloody Maria, you simply swap out the neutral grain spirit vodka for the much more flavorful, complex, vegetal agave tequila. The Mexican spirit adds a new dimension to the traditional mixed drink.
While the drink has myriad origin stories, the earliest claim is from 1938. This is when Carlos Herrera, owner and bartender at Rancho La Gloria in Tijuana, supposedly invented the drink. There are other stories of its genesis, but all agree that the drink is made with tequila, triple sec (like Countreau), and lime juice. Simple, elegant, and just as great today as it was whenever it was actually invented.
1. Ranch Water
The most contemporary drink on this list, Ranch Water was invented somewhere in West Texas. While the actual year is unknown, it’s believed that this combination of tequila, sparkling mineral water, and lime juice was enjoyed as a refreshing drink on Texas ranches. An Austin restaurant owner named Kevin Williamson brought the drink to his restaurant in 1998. He previously had the drink when he was younger and would go hunting with his dad.
Unless you are independently wealthy, you’ll purchase one or two bottles of tequila for mixing. While you should take into account your palate and what flavors you prefer, you absolutely must have a great blanco tequila solely for mixing purposes. There are a ton of great, reasonably-priced bottles available everywhere. You should also grab a bottle of reposado or añejo.
Make it a nice enough and expensive enough bottle that you’ll mix or sip it neat. If you’re spending more, you’ll want to grab a few of each because once you whip up flavorful homemade Margarita, Paloma, or Ranch water, you’re going to want to do it again and again. You wouldn’t want to reach for that bottle of Clase Azul or Casa Dragones only to find it empty.
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