Welcome to Buy This Booze (BTB), a new weekly column featuring tipsy recommendations from the drinking experts here at VinePair. Every Tuesday, we’ll feature a new themed list for your alcoholic endeavors. Need to find inexpensive whiskey that tastes like gold or the perfect anniversary wine? Leave your requests in the comments or shoot us an email!
Here in the US, good tequila ain’t cheap. It takes a bit of a hunt to find a great tequila for a reasonable price. To give you an idea of how pricey tequila can get, Patron Añejo or even certain varieties of Jose Cuervo can set you back more than 70-100 dollars. But if you’re stocking up for a Cinco de Mayo party, you might not have time to scour a bunch of stores (and spend a few hours on research) to find choices that are both tasty and economically feasible. Luckily, we’ve cut out the guesswork for you. Here are 11 extraordinary tequilas that won’t break the bank.
1. Tanteo Cocoa – $40
Chocolate tequila might sound suspect, but Tanteo Cocoa isn’t a Hershey’s Kiss sugarbomb. This surprisingly complex spirit is made by infusing tequila with raw cacao. A creamy texture and sweet nose give way to a mouth full of dark chocolate with hints of pepper. This is definitely a treat for unconventional tequila cocktails and mole-sauced dishes.
2. Tequila Don Julio Blanco – $47
This is a great example of what a blanco (unaged) tequila can be. Mild, widely available, and peppered with citrus and sage, Don Julio Blanco is a tequila just about anyone can enjoy. It’s so clean and palatable, you can mix it with scant few ingredients like lemon juice, simple syrup, and seltzer. This is a good tequila to keep in your home bar as well.
3. Milagro Tequila – $27
Milagro means miracle, and miracle is exactly what this tequila is. We’ve seen this guy at plenty of bars, and it’s no wonder why: it’s subtle, a little savory, and best of all inexpensive. The unique vegetal taste balances well with sweeter cocktail components. Plus, the sky-blue bottle is perfect to set on a beautifully decorated table.
4. Patron Reposado – $50
Unlike some liquors mentioned in rap songs, Patron lives up to its rep. This is Patron’s reposado, and has rested in oak for a minimum of 6 months. The wood adds the right amount of depth to this easily-enjoyed tequila. Though it straddles the $50 financial line, you can find this guy for a good price without looking too hard. Plus, it’s ideal for a margarita.
5. Espolòn Reposado – $26
This reposado is aged six months, which is pretty darn old for a reposado (which only has to be aged for two). That age is evident: this tequila has scrumptious sweet notes like vanilla and toffee that come with prolonged aging. And, wonderfully enough, it’s the same price as Espolòn’s blanco (which is also good).
6. Tequila Cabeza – $33
Tequila Cabeza is the brainchild of The 86 Co., a group of producers that collaborates with bartenders to create exemplary mixing spirits. At $33 for a 1 liter bottle, Tequila Cabeza is a bargain. This tequila is bursting with straight up agave and some green pepper flavor. Given its versatile nature, Cabeza incorporates well into elaborate, multi-ingredient drinks, so experiment. After all, you bought 1 liter – you have juice to spare!
7. Herradura Añejo – $50
Yes, you can buy an añejo (a tequila aged for 1-3 years) for $50. Herradura Añejo is aged for two years, giving it a fair bit of sophistication. Tropical fruits mingle with traditional oaky tastes like vanilla, and the texture is absolutely divine. Expect a velvety mouthfeel. This is a nicely priced sipping tequila and a good accompaniment to dessert.
8. Cimarron Blanco Tequila – $18 – BEST ON A BUDGET
This tequila offers true bang for your buck. Created by tequila pioneer Enrique Fonseca, Cimarron Blanco is made from agave plants with exceptionally high sugar content. The tequila gleaned really makes a statement: it’s lively and distinct – especially for a blanco. In addition to Tequila Cabeza, this is a great tequila to have at home on hand for whatever.
9. Tequila Fortaleza Blanco – $50 – BEST OVERALL
We’ve mentioned Tequila Fortaleza before in our list of beautiful distilleries, and their product does their gorgeous landscape justice. Tasting this blanco is like sampling the Jalisco earth – in a good way. The minerality, combined with a hint of oil and a floral pop on the palate, make this tequila simultaneously bright and layered. We recommend mixing with rose syrup, berries, or stone fruit juices (like peach puree).
10. Avión Silver Tequila – $42
Avión was featured – purportedly without product placement – on HBO’s Entourage. This unaged tequila has been heralded by critics and taken home multiple awards – for good reason. The blanco shows off a blend of pineapple and spice, making it perfect for tiki drinks with a twist. Avión is also herbaceous and tart, allowing it to be refreshing enough for spice and herb-based cocktails.
11. Pueblo Viejo Añejo Tequila – $27
Yet another affordable añejo, Pueblo Viejo is aged for at least 18 months in American oak. Expect dark chocolate, nuts, and rich fruit. Don’t let the simple bottle fool you: this is an incredibly worthwhile tequila that tastes far more luxe than its asking price. We’d mix this with chocolate liqueurs, hot ciders, and crème de cassis.