Skip to main content

These are the 7 classic tequila cocktail recipes you need to know

Mixing a drink with tequila as the star? Here are the recipes you ought to make

Tequila shot with salt
Francisco Galarza / Unsplash

Tequila is a big player in the rich canon of cocktail culture. The agave spirit serves as the backbone of everything from a classic margarita to a refreshing Paloma. In short, if you have a home bar, it better have a few decent bottles of tequila in the mix to whip up cocktails with tequila.

While there are some great sipping tequilas, much of what’s out there tends to do better with some complementary ingredients; that’s where these classic tequila cocktails really shine, blending the earthy and spicy punch of tequila with bright-as-the-sun citrus and more.

When working with tequila, don’t be afraid to be creative. We know full well that it can work wonders with ingredients like Aperol. But for now, let’s focus on signature tequila cocktail recipes that really show the spirit’s worth. Here are seven recipes you must know how to pull off.

Margarita

A pair of margarita cocktails
Brent Hofacker / Adobe Stock

Throughout the dozens upon dozens of iterations we’ve tried, we scooped up this classic recipe from the former Tahona Tequila Bistro in Boulder, Colorado, which continues to top lists of best-ever margaritas. Balanced just right with the citrusy mix of lime, lemon, and a little orange, the blend of tart and sweet (plus 100% blue agave tequila) can seduce anyone who claims to dislike tequila.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces Casa Noble Tequila Reposado (Tahona aged Casa Noble Tequila Blanco in a custom, American oak barrel that sits behind the bar, but the Reposado is a good substitute.)
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce organic agave nectar
  • Salt for rim

Method

  1. Combine juices.
  2. Mix tequila and agave nectar.
  3. Shake, salt rim, and pour into glass. Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel.

Paloma

Paloma cocktail
Alexander Prokopenko / Shutterstock

A Paloma is a lighter tequila cocktail that traditionally combines the agave liquor with grapefruit flavors — one of the easiest yet most refreshing cocktails you can make in about two minutes flat. We looked to the taco king of Denver, Colorado — Taco Tequila Whiskey — for this sparkling recipe. Ready, go!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces Exotico Tequila Blanco
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce agave nectar

Method

  1. Mix tequila with grapefruit juice, lime juice, and agave.
  2. Shake and pour into a salted (half-moon style) Collins glass.

Bloody Maria

Bloody Maria
Billion Photos / Shutterstock

Swap vodka for tequila in this adaptation of the Bloody Mary. Tequila has the power to ease digestion, which may be just what you need the next morning after an adventurous night out.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Casa Noble Crystal Tequila
  • 4 ounces tomato juice
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish, to taste
  • 1 pinch celery salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • Garnishes: Lime wedge, lemon wedge, cucumber spear, sweet pepper slices, jalapeño slices, and queso fresco

Method

  1. Add all ingredients to shaker and fill with ice.
  2. Shake briefly and strain into a pint glass filled with fresh ice.
  3. Garnish.

Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise
Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

We’d wager it’s been a hot second since you’ve ordered a Tequila Sunrise. That is if you’ve ever ordered one. Instead of slinging the old OJ/grenadine recipe that some find too sweet, we turned to this updated twist on the sunset from Tequila Avión, which offers greater depth for a refined pallet.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Tequila Avión Silver or Reposado
  • 1 ounce Lillet Rouge
  • 2 ounces grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce agave nectar
  • Lime wedge to garnish

Method

  1. Add ice and Lillet Rouge in a highball glass.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and ice to a cocktail shaker.
  3. Shake and strain into highball slowly so as not to incorporate Lillet (keep it layered).
  4. Garnish with lime.

Negroni

Negroni
SARYMSAKOV ANDREY / Shutterstock

Negronis are typically made with gin, but don’t miss out on this classic cocktail if your preferences lean away from the juniper-flavored spirit. Use tequila! Brendan Weir of Denver’s Que Bueno Suerte — an upscale eatery with brilliant ancient-Mayan-meets-modern-Mexico design — stirs this Latin-inspired cocktail year-round. Using equal parts, making this drink at home is easy-peasy, lime squeezy.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 ounce Suerte Tequila Reposado
  • 3/4 ounce Contratto Apertif
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 ounce Carpano Antica
  • Grapefruit peel to garnish

Method

  1. Shake all ingredients together in equal parts.
  2. Serve over ice and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Michelada

Michelada
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Although traditional Micheladas are made with cerveza, assorted spices, peppers, and lime juice, the Mexico-based super-jefe Modelo mixes it with a shot of Casa Noble tequila, making for a truly delicious Michelada to replace your old recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 shot of Casa Noble Tequila (your choice of expression)
  • 4 ounces Modelo Especial
  • 4 ounces Negra Modelo
  • 3 ounces chilled tomato juice
  • 1 ounce chilled clam juice
  • 5 dashes soy sauce
  • 4 dashes hot sauce
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 thin mango slices
  • 2 cucumber slices
  • 2 seasoned shrimp with tails
  • 1 tamarind straw
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Chili powder and coarse salt for garnish

Method

  1. Mix chili powder and salt on a small plate.
  2. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of the glass and press into the spice mix.
  3. Fill the glass with ice and pour in Modelo Especial and Negra Modelo.
  4. Add chilled clam juice, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and soy sauce.
  5. Stir with tamarind straw and garnish with shrimp, mango, and cucumber slices rolled in chili powder and salt mixture.
  6. Add a shot of tequila. Stir, serve, and enjoy.

Mexican mule

Mezcal mule
Kelly Visel / Unsplash

The Mexican mule, also known as a tequila Mule, is a classic cocktail that, instead of vodka, like making a Moscow mule, you of course, use tequila.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces tequila (blanco is preferred)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (freshly squeezed for the freshest flavor)
  • 4-6 ounces ginger beer
  • Lime wedge (for garnish)

Method

  1. Fill a copper mug or highball glass with ice.
  2. Add the tequila and lime juice to the glass.
  3. Slowly pour in the ginger beer, leaving some room at the top.
  4. Add a lime wedge for a finishing touch.

Editors' Recommendations

Jahla Seppanen
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Born and raised off-the-grid in New Mexico, Jahla Seppanen is currently a sports, fitness, spirits, and culture writer in…
Mezcal vs. tequila: What’s the difference?
All tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila.
Tequila

In the alcohol world, tequila is a household name that includes bourbon, Scotch, rum, vodka, and gin. But just because you’ve heard of tequila, that doesn’t mean you necessarily know anything about it. Mezcal isn’t as well-known as its Mexican counterpart, but most avid drinkers have at least heard of this spirit.

And while you might have heard of mezcal and tequila, if you’re not an avid drinker of Mexican spirits, you might not know the difference between the two. That’s okay because, on the surface, the two spirits look the same. Even if you take a moment to nose them, you might find that they smell the same (or at least very similar).

Read more
How to make a Dark and Stormy, the rum-centric sibling of the Moscow Mule
It's got the spice of a Moscow Mule with the kick of dark rum: The Dark and Stormy
Dark and Stormy cocktail

Is there a more evocative cocktail than the Dark and Stormy? The name alone sends you to a warm but restless ocean with a thunderstorm overhead.

Now, before you think you've been there and done that, ask yourself this: Did your Dark and Stormy drink involve fresh ginger? Was it made with the right kind of rum? If you're not exactly sure, read on. We're here to make sure your next take on the classic Dark and Stormy cocktail is as good as it can be.

Read more
How to make a classic Manhattan (and several variations)
The right way to make this classic cocktail and more to try
A bartender stirs a cocktail in a mixing glass.

One of the world's most ubiquitous cocktails, the Manhattan cocktail has been enjoyed by spiritous imbibers since it was made famous at the legendary Manhattan Club in New York City sometime around 1880. Even while falling in and out of fashion throughout the years, Manhattan has withstood the test of time to firmly cement itself as one of the great classic cocktails of all time.

As with many classic cocktails, the origin of the Manhattan drink recipe is murky at best. The most popular theory is that the drink was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall at a party for Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston Churchill, held at the Manhattan Club. Sounds plausible, but this story never happened. It was later verified that Lady Churchill was never partying it up in New York at that time as she was pregnant at home in England. What is for sure is that the Manhattan emerged on the scene in the 1880s. The earliest known mention of both the name and the Manhattan cocktail ingredients was in September 1882 in the Sunday Morning Herald in Olean, N.Y.

Read more