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The Best Tequila Drinks to Order at a Bar

Aidan ToborAuthor

As the world's appreciation for craft spirits continues to soar, tequila has found itself at the forefront of this renaissance. Bartenders and mixologists around the globe are embracing tequila's complex and nuanced flavor profiles, creating a new wave of innovative and captivating tequila-based cocktails that are taking bars and restaurants by storm.

According to The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, “Since 2002, Tequila volumes have grown 180%, an average rate of 6.2% per year. In 2019 alone, 20.1 million 9-liter cases were sold.” In 2023, Tequila sales rose 7.9%  year over year ($476 million) totaling $6.5 billion.

At the heart of tequila's ascent lies its rich tradition and the artisanal production methods that have been passed down through generations in the Mexican state of Jalisco. From the cultivation of the succulent agave plant to the intricate distillation process, every step is a testament to the passion and craftsmanship that defines this iconic spirit.

Whether you're a tequila aficionado or a curious newcomer, the ever-expanding world of tequila cocktails offers an exciting journey for your taste buds. So, let's raise our glasses and explore some of the most tantalizing tequila drinks that are sure to elevate your cocktail experience.

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Types of Tequila Ordered in Cocktails

Tequila is a diverse spirit that comes in several distinct varieties, each offering a unique flavor profile and drinking experience. When deciding on a tequila drink, understanding the different types can help you make a more informed decision. Consider the desired cocktail or your preferred flavor profile. Blanco tequila is perfect for bright, citrusy drinks, while aged tequilas (Reposado and Añejo) are better suited for sipping or more complex, spirit-forward cocktails.

 The main types of tequila available are:

Blanco (Silver) Tequila 

Unaged or aged for less than 2 months in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels, Blanco tequila offers a pure, agave-forward taste. It's commonly used in cocktails like Margaritas or Palomas.

Reposado Tequila

Aged in oak barrels for 2 to 12 months, Reposado tequila has a light golden color and a flavor profile that includes hints of vanilla, caramel, and oak alongside the agave notes. It's suitable for sipping neat or in cocktails like the Tequila Old Fashioned.

Añejo Tequila

Aged in oak barrels for 1 to 3 years, Añejo tequila has a darker amber color and a smoother, more complex flavor with notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and butterscotch. It's best enjoyed neat or on the rocks.

Extra Añejo Tequila 

A premium tequila aged for a minimum of 3 years in oak barrels, Extra Añejo boasts a rich, dark color and a luxurious flavor profile with deep, woody notes and hints of dark chocolate and dried fruit. It's ideal for sipping and savoring.

Joven (Gold) Tequila 

A blend of Blanco tequila and aged tequilas (Reposado or Añejo) or additives like caramel coloring and flavoring, Joven tequila's flavor profile varies depending on the blend. It's often used in cocktails.

Top 10 tequila drinks to order at a bar

1. Classic Margarita

No tequila cocktail list would be complete without the iconic margarita. "The margarita is one of the most famous and arguably the greatest of tequila cocktails, and for good reason. At its best, it's a perfect combination of sweet, salty, sour and bitter (from the tequila), and is refreshing and eminently satisfying." says the team at Liquor.com. This classic tequila drink combines the smooth and earthy flavors of tequila blanco with the vibrant tartness of fresh lime juice, and the sweet notes of orange liqueur. Whether served on the rocks or frozen, the margarita is a timeless crowd-pleaser that showcases tequila's versatility.

Here's a recipe for a classic margarita from Liquor.com:

  • 2 oz tequila (blanco or reposado)
  • 1 oz Cointreau (or other triple sec)
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • Salt for rim (optional)

For those seeking a little spice in their lives, the Jalapeño-Pineapple Margarita is a must-try. This tropical and fiery tequila drink combines tequila blanco with fresh pineapple juice, lime juice, and a hint of jalapeño, creating a perfect balance of sweet, tart, and smoky flavors that will tantalize your taste buds.


2. Paloma

Originating in Mexico, the Paloma is a refreshing and effervescent tequila cocktail that perfectly captures the essence of summer. Blending tequila reposado with grapefruit juice and grapefruit soda, this citrusy delight is often garnished with a lime wedge, adding a zesty twist to every sip.

Here’s a recipe for a Paloma cocktail from A Couple Cooks:

  • 2 oz tequila (blanco or reposado)
  • 2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup (or to taste)
  • 2-3 oz sparkling water or grapefruit soda (like Squirt or Fresca)
  • Salt for rim (optional)


3. Ranch Water

Hailing from the rugged ranches of Texas, the Ranch Water is a testament to tequila's ability to transcend borders and cultures. This simple yet addictive cocktail combines tequila blanco with fresh lime juice, topo chico (or any sparkling mineral water), and a hint of jalapeño for a refreshing kick.

Here’s a recipe for Ranch Water from The Food Network:

  • 1 1/2 oz tequila (blanco or reposado)
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/4 oz orange liqueur (optional)
  • 4-5 oz Topo Chico sparkling mineral water
  • Lime wedge for garnish


4. Tequila Sunrise

Reminiscent of a breathtaking desert sunset, the Tequila Sunrise is a visually stunning and deliciously fruity tequila drink. Combining tequila blanco with orange juice and a splash of grenadine, this cocktail is a vibrant and refreshing treat that's perfect for brunch or a lazy afternoon.

Here’s a recipe for a Tequila Sunrise from Serious Eats:

  • 2 oz tequila (blanco or reposado)
  • 4 oz orange juice (freshly squeezed is best)
  • 1/2 oz grenadine syrup
  • Orange slice and maraschino cherry for garnish

Pro Tip: The key to creating a visually stunning Tequila Sunrise is to pour the grenadine syrup slowly down the inside of the glass after adding the tequila and orange juice. This allows the grenadine to sink to the bottom, creating the signature sunrise effect. Be sure to use a tall glass to showcase the beautiful layers of this classic cocktail.


5. Tequila Old Fashioned

For those who appreciate the classic sophistication of an Old Fashioned, the Tequila Old Fashioned is a must-try. Replacing the traditional whiskey with tequila reposado or añejo, this cocktail blends the smoky notes of tequila with the rich flavors of angostura bitters, agave nectar, and a citrus twist, creating a bold and complex sipping experience.

Here’s a recipe for a Tequila Old Fashioned from Punch:

  • 2 oz reposado tequila
  • 1/2 oz agave nectar
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish


6. Tequila Negroni

The Tequila Negroni - sometimes called a Tegroni - is a bold and bitter twist on the classic Italian aperitif. Swapping gin for tequila blanco or reposado, this cocktail combines the agave spirit with Campari and sweet vermouth, resulting in a well-balanced and intriguing flavor profile that's sure to captivate even the most discerning palates.

Here’s a recipe for a Tequila Negroni from Imbibe Magazine:

  • 1 oz tequila (reposado or añejo)
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz Campari
  • Orange twist for garnish


8. Bloody Maria

Brunch just got a whole lot more exciting with the Tequila Bloody Mary. Substituting vodka for tequila blanco or reposado, this savory and spicy cocktail combines the earthy notes of tequila with the rich flavors of tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, and a blend of spices, making it the perfect accompaniment to any brunch spread.

Here’a recipe for a Bloody Maria from Serious Eats:

  • 2 oz tequila (blanco or reposado)
  • 4 oz tomato juice
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-3 dashes hot sauce (like Tabasco or Cholula)
  • 1 pinch each of salt and black pepper
  • 1 pinch of celery salt
  • Lime wedge and celery stalk for garnish
  • Optional garnishes: olives, pickled vegetables, bacon, or shrimp


9. Tequila Espresso Martini

For those who appreciate the marriage of caffeine and cocktails, the Tequila Espresso Martini is a match made in heaven. Combining tequila reposado or añejo with freshly brewed espresso, coffee liqueur, and a touch of agave syrup, this cocktail is a decadent and energizing treat that's perfect for a night on the town or a late-night indulgence.

Here’s a recipe for a Tequila Espresso Martini from Liquor.com:

  • 1 1/2 oz reposado tequila
  • 1 oz espresso or cold brew concentrate
  • 3/4 oz coffee liqueur (like Kahlúa or Tia Maria)
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 3 coffee beans for garnish


10. Tequila Spritz

Inspired by the refreshing and effervescent Aperol Spritz, the Tequila Spritz is a vibrant and bubbly tequila drink that's perfect for warm summer days. Combining tequila blanco with Aperol, grapefruit juice, and a splash of club soda or prosecco, this cocktail is a delightful balance of bitter, citrusy, and fizzy flavors that will transport you to a sunny Italian piazza.

Here’s a recipe for a Tequila Sprtiz from The Spruce Eats:

  • 1 1/2 oz blanco tequila
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz agave nectar
  • 2-3 oz sparkling wine (like Prosecco or Cava)
  • Soda water to top
  • Lime wheel or grapefruit slice for garnish

It’s tequila time

As you can see, the world of tequila cocktails is vast and ever-evolving, offering something for every taste and occasion. Whether you prefer classic tequila drinks like the margarita or modern twists like the Tequila Negroni, one thing is certain: tequila has firmly established itself as a versatile and sophisticated spirit that deserves a prominent place in any well-stocked bar.

So, the next time you find yourself at your favorite watering hole, embrace the agave spirit and embark on a flavorful journey through the best tequila cocktails the bartenders have to offer. Who knows? You might just discover your new favorite tequila drink and join the ranks of those who have fallen under the spell of this captivating Mexican elixir.

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