Skip to main content

These are the 6 classic tequila cocktail recipes you need to know

Mixing a drink with tequila as the star? Here are 6 recipes you ought to know how to make

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.

The Tequila on a Boat cocktail by 21Seeds Tequila.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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.


Brent Hofacker/Adobe / Adobe

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


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


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!


  • 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


  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
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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.


  • 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


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

Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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


  1. Add ice and Lillet Rouge in a highball glass.
  2. Add 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.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

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.



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


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 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


  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 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.

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…
Tequila bottles have a code on the back that tells you how good it is
Crack the code and learn a little something about your favorite spirit
tips for buying good tequila francisco galarza hos80gyhota unsplash

It's no secret that tequila has been gaining speed in the American popularity contest for a few years now. With every other celebrity slapping their name on labels, a wave of trendy tequila cocktails sweeping the nation, and an ever-growing appreciation for the spirit's many fine qualities, this sweet agave spirit couldn't be hotter. And while this is fantastic news whether you're new to tequila or have been around for a while, it does come with the downside of confusion in a now heavily saturated market.
Knowing good tequila from cheap party swill is more complicated than just checking the price tag. But how do you tell the good from the bad? The savor-every-sip-in-its-complex-richness versus the two-dollar-shot-and-a-hangover-worse-than-death brands? Thankfully, there's a secret code printed on the backs of tequila bottles that reveals everything you need to know.

How to choose the best tequila
A NOM (Norma Oficial Mexicana) is a four-digit numerical code printed on the back of every bottle of tequila. That number represents the distillery from whence the tequila was made. As is required by Mexican law, every tequila brand must disclose its NOM, which, if you know what to look for, can reveal the product's legitimacy and quality.
Every NOM directly corresponds to a specific tequila distillery located in one of the five authorized tequila states in Mexico: Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, or Tamaulipas. By searching a bottle's NOM online on sites such as Tequila Matchmaker, a person can decipher exactly where the tequila was made.
A NOM can also reveal which brands also share the same distillery. That's right — while there are over 3,000 tequila brands on the market, there are fewer than 200 distilleries located within the Denomination of Origin. So there's more overlap than you might suspect. Some NOMS are associated with hundreds of tequila brands, indicating perhaps a lower quality product as these enormous distilleries are often known for using additives in their products to create detectable taste differences between the brands they produce. Whereas smaller, family-owned distilleries will carry their own unique NOM.
And if you're a real tequila nerd (like we are), researching a bottle's NOM will also tell you that particular distillery's location, whether or not they offer tours, the equipment they use for the distillery process, aging techniques, and even their sources of water. You can read reviews of the product and even view photos of the distillery itself. So grab that bottle of tequila you've got on the bar cart and do a little digging. You might learn something.

Read more
10 classic summer cocktails everyone should know how to make
Enjoy the rest of your summer with these incredible, classic cocktails
Tatyana Vega/Unsplash

We’re in the middle of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and while temperatures (and amount of sun) are different depending on where you live, there’s a good chance you’re in need of some liquid refreshment. And while a nice glass of wine or frosty beer is sure to hit the spot, we’d rather enjoy something with layers upon layers of fresh, seasonal flavors. We’re talking, of course, about summer cocktails.

And while we have no problem enjoying a white Russian while we stream The Big Lebowski in our backyard, a classic whisky-driven old fashioned on an unseasonably cool evening, or even a hot toddy if we’re feeling a little under the weather, summer is a time for lighter spirits and fresh ingredients. All in all, it’s a time for refreshing cocktails well-suited for sipping on a hazy, humid (sometimes unbearably so), sunny day.

Read more
You need to try this easy creamy pesto pasta salad recipe
It's time to try a new pasta salad. This one is the best.
Pesto pasta salad


Everyone loves a pasta salad. It's one of those summertime staples that finds its way into nearly every picnic basket and barbecue buffet. And while we love the classic recipes our beloved grandmothers so graciously handed down to us, sometimes it's nice to mix it up and try something new.

Read more