Skip to main content

Our favorite tequila drinks, ranked

The best tequila drinks, ranked

Tequila drink
Brock Wegner/Unsplash

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.

Cocktail
Christopher Alvarenga/Unsplash

Why tequila?

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.

Jose Cuervo
Bruno Oliveira/Unsplash

Our 5 favorite tequila drinks

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.

Tequila Sunrise
Spencer Bergen/Unsplash

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.

Paloma
Kateryna T/Unsplash

4. Paloma

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.

Bloody mary
Toni Osmundson/Unsplash

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.

Margarita
Kike Salazar N/Unsplash

2. Margarita

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.

Ranch Water
Megan Bucknall/Unsplash

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.

Tequila cocktail
YesMore Content/Unsplash

Picking the right tequila for you

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
The best sipping whiskeys, ranked
We ranked the best sipping whiskeys
whiskey

It might seem like an oversimplification, but two kinds of whiskey exist. First are the whisk(e)ys that are cheaper, less mature, and better suited for mixing into your favorite cocktails than drinking on their own. The second kind of whiskey is so complex, nuanced, long-matured, and flavorful that it deserves to be sipped on the rocks or with a splash or two of water. The latter is what we’re most concerned with today.

But that’s not all. For those unaware, whiskey is an all-encompassing term for a variety of whisk(e)ys, including single malt Scotch whisky (only the US and Ireland use the ‘e’ in whiskey), bourbon whiskey, Irish whiskey, rye whiskey, Canadian whisky, Japanese whiskey, and others from all over the world. This means that you have a lot to choose from when it comes to sipping whiskeys.

Read more
This is how to make a Bloody Bull – a better, beefier Bloody Mary recipe
Here's a different version of a Bloody Mary
Brennan's Bloody Bull.

Born in the great city of New Orleans, the Bloody Bull is the beefier cousin of the Bloody Mary. Treated to some meaty broth, the drink is super savory and begging to accompany your brunch plans.

The original hails from Brennan's, a colorful creole restaurant that's been on the scene since 1946. There are riffs of course, with bartenders treating the drink to everything from a bit of Guinness to a host of different spice blends.

Read more
Flying with alcohol: How to pack beer and wine in your luggage
Can you fly with alcohol? Learn how with this packing guide
Packing a suitcase.

If you're a craft beer aficionado or ardent wine lover, chances are that, at some point, you'll find yourself in a predicament when packing for a flight. You've gone a little overboard at the breweries and wineries and couldn't resist splurging on several of those delicious bottles. Don't worry; we've all been there. From a souvenir perspective, locally produced beer and wine make for refreshing mementos from any journey, as well as great gifts to bring back from your travels. Here's the big question though. Can you bring alcohol on a plane?

The short answer is yes. Like with anything else in life, there are rules and it's important to know them before you head to the airport including how much and what you can bring. It's also essential to know how to pack the alcohol for the flight. There’s nothing worse than a bottle of red wine breaking in your suitcase and staining everything or a broken beer bottle making your luggage smell like yeast right before a long-haul flight. With a few smart packing decisions, your beer or wine will be safely waiting for you at the baggage carousel, wherever your final destination may be.

Read more