In the rich canon of cocktail culture, tequila is a big player. The agave spirit serves as the backbone from 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.
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 the signature drinks that really show the spirit’s worth. Here are six recipes you must know how to pull off.
Throughout the dozens upon dozens of iterations we’ve tried, we scooped up this classic recipe from 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.
- 1 1/2 ounces Casa Noble Tequila Reposado (Tahona ages 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
- Combine juices.
- Mix tequila and agave nectar.
- Shake, salt rim, and pour into glass. Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel.
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!
- 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
- Mix tequila with grapefruit juice, lime juice, and agave.
- Shake and pour into a salted (half-moon style) Collins glass.
- 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
- Add all ingredients to shaker and fill with ice.
- Shake briefly and strain into pint glass filled with fresh ice.
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.
- 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
- Add ice and Lillet Rouge in a highball glass.
- Add remaining ingredients and ice to a cocktail shaker.
- Shake and strain into highball slowly so as not to incorporate Lillet (keep it layered).
- Garnish with lime.
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.
- 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
- Shake all ingredients together in equal parts.
- Serve over ice and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Although traditional Micheladas are made with cerveza, assorted spices, peppers, and lime juice, the Mexico-based super-jefe Modelo mixes its with a shot of Casa Noble tequila, making for a truly delicious Michelada to replace your old recipe.
- 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
- Mix chili powder and salt on a small plate.
- Rub a lime wedge around the rim of the glass and press into the spice mix.
- Fill glass with ice and pour in Modelo Especial and Negra Modelo.
- Add chilled clam juice, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and soy sauce.
- Stir with tamarind straw and garnish with shrimp, mango, and cucumber slices rolled in chili powder and salt mixture.
- Add a shot of tequila. Stir, serve, and enjoy.
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