Much can be said of the heavenly blue agave elixir we call tequila. Historically, tequila comes from the Aztec word that roughly translates to “the place where plants are harvested.” And, similar to how Champagne originates from a specific region of the same name in France, true tequila must exclusively hail from the state of Jalisco, Mexico. Otherwise, the agave spirit is technically a mezcal.
Apart from getting a bad rap from college freshmen who indulge in copious, cheap shots (face-palm), this genre of liquor has recently been praised for its health benefits, including lowering chances of developing dementia, revving up the metabolism, and boosting gut health. As for popularity, tequila reigns. Nationwide retail sales exceeded $7 billion in 2016, and wholesalers and suppliers charted over $3.3 billion, according to Statista. Tequila even has its own day of the week: #TequilaTuesday (did you think that was for tacos?).
So here are six classic tequila cocktail recipes to serve up one (or more) delicious drinks — per the doctor’s orders.
Ahh, the margarita. 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 percent blue agave tequila) can seduce anyone who claims to dislike tequila.
“This drink has all the tastes to light up any palette … and don’t forget the salty rim!” says Tina Troy, Tahona bar manager.
“We love tequila for so many reasons,” she continues. “We love the story behind this beautiful spirit, where generations of families use their ancestral land to slowly grow this succulent plant over years, until finally harvesting it, only to wait again to slow cook it and naturally ferment it, distill it, then wait even longer for some of it to age in oak barrels. It’s a process of love and care you can immediately taste when you take your first sip.”
- 1.5 oz 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 oz fresh lime juice
- 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
- 0.5 oz fresh orange juice
- 0.5 oz organic agave nectar
- Salt for rim
Method: Combine juices. Mix tequila and agave nectar. Shake. Salt rim. Smile.
A paloma is a lighter tequila cocktail that traditionally mixes 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!
- 1.5 oz Exotico Tequila Blanco
- 1.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
- 0.75 oz fresh lime juice
- 0.25 oz agave nectar
Method: Mix tequila with grapefruit juice, lime juice, and agave. Shake. Pour into a salted (half-moon style) Collins glass.
- 2 oz Casa Noble Crystal Tequila
- 4 oz tomato juice
- 0.5 oz lemon juice
- 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
- 0.5 tbsp 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: Add all ingredients to shaker and fill with ice. Shake briefly and strain into pint glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish.
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 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 oz Tequila Avión Silver or Reposado
- 1 oz Lillet Rouge
- 2 oz grapefruit juice
- 0.5 lime juice
- 0.25 oz agave nectar
- Lime wedge to garnish
Method: Add ice and Lillet Rouge in highball glass. Add remaining ingredients and iceto cocktail shaker. Shake. Strain into highball slowly so as not to incorporate Lillet (keep it layered). Garnish with lime.
Negronis are typically made with gin. Don’t miss out on this classic cocktail if your preferences lean away from the juniper-flavored spirit. Use tequila! Vicente Sosa 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.
- 0.75 oz Suerte Tequila Reposado
- 0.75 oz Contratto Apertif
- 0.75 oz sweet vermouth
- 0.75 oz Carpano Antica
- Grapefruit peel to garnish
Method: Shake all ingredients together in equal parts. Serve over ice. Garnish with grapefruit twist.
Although traditional Micheladas are made with cerveza, assorted spices, peppers, and lime juice, the Mexico-based super-jefe Modelo mixes theirs with a shot of Casa Noble tequila, making for a truly delicious Michelada to replace your old recipe.
- Shot of Casa Noble Tequila (your choice of expression)
- 4 oz Modelo Especial
- 4 oz Negra Modelo
- 3 oz chilled tomato juice
- 1 oz chilled clam juice
- 5 dashes of soy sauce
- 4 dashes of hot sauce
- 2 dashes of 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
Method: Mix chili powder and salt on a small plate. Rub a lime wedge around rim of glass and press into spice mix. Fill glass with ice. Pour Modelo Especial and Negra Modelo. Add chilled clam juice, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and soy sauce. Stir with tamarind straw. Garnish with shrimp, mango, and cucumber slices (rolled in chili powder and salt mixture. Add shot of tequila. Stir, serve, and enjoy!
Craving more unconventional cocktails? Check out these interesting tequila recipes.