Nothing promises a good time like a good ol’ shot of tequila. But not all tequilas are created equal. Some are perfect for Margaritas and other tequilas are meant for sipping. Certain brands dominate among consumers, mainly in the off-premise world of restaurant sipping and casual bar slugging. Drinks International rounded up the top ten best-selling tequila brands in the world’s top 50 bars. Check out the list below to see if your favorite made the cut!
1. Don Julio
Clocking in at number one, Don Julio is also the largest tequila brand in terms of value. Founded by Don Julio Gonzalez-Frausto Estrada in 1942, the company has since become one of the most well-known brands for tequila worldwide. Available in Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, 1942, Real, and 70 bottlings.
This best-selling brand was the first to introduce the concept of terroir to tequila, noting production year and agave selection location on each label, showing each batch is unique. Crafted in the old-fashioned, slower style method of producing tequila, Ocho continues to maintain its integrity throughout the market.
One of the most popular tequila brands on the market, the original Patrón began production at one of Mexico’s oldest distilleries, Casa 7 Leguas. The brand has re-marketed itself over the years as a premium brand, with focus on “taste and sophistication.” In October 2019, Patrón became the first liquor brand to sell its products direct-to-consumer on Instagram.
4. Calle 23
“Tequila is a tradition, a way of life,” says the motto of this best-selling brand. Blue agave plants are carefully selected from Los Altos de Jalisco, where dry periods followed by strong rains creates a mineral-rich environment ideal for Calle 23 tequila production.
“Tapatio” is a word referring to a man from Guadalajara, a city near Jalisco, Mexico’s tequila-producing region. Authenticity plays a key part in the brand’s production, too. With its double-distillation process and its rich history dating back to the 1800s, it’s no surprise this brand finds itself in the top ten selling brands.
Tequila Fortaleza launched in 2005, but its owners say five generations of tequila-making history back the brand. Fortaleza uses “old-world machinery and processes,” such as slow-cooking agave for 36 hours in an old stone oven, stone-crushing agave fibers in a tahona, and fermenting in open-air wooden tanks. As the sixth best-selling tequila in 2018, it ousts former No. 6 Cabeza.
7. Jose Cuervo
Jose Cuervo is owned and operated by the Beckmann family, who are indeed relatives of Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo himself. The brand began its U.S. ascent in the 1940s after Prohibition, when tequila smuggling from Mexico became popular in the American Southwest. In 2012, the brand opened the Cuervo Express train, where tourists can hop on a 2-hour locomotive from Guadalajara to Jalisco, and tour the distillery.
Founded in 1870 by Felix Lopez, Herradura remained a family business for over a century before Brown-Forman acquired it. The brand also produces bottlings of Blanco, Blanco Suave, Reposado, Antiguo, Anejo, and Seleccion Suprema, aged for an impressive 49 months in barrel.
9. Olmeca Altos
Created by bartenders Henry Besant and Dre Masso in partnership with Maestro Tequilero Jesús Hernandez, Altos Tequila produces Plata, Reposado, and Añejo tequilas in the Destilería Colonial de Jalisco in Los Altos. While Jesús senior handles everything from agave selection to aging (a position he’s held for upwards of 17 years), his son Jesús leads tours at the distillery. Olmeca takes the title of ninth-best-selling tequilla from El Jimador.
This tequila made for mixing is described as “a highland pure-agave tequila distilled for a dry profile to allow greater control of cocktail sweetness.” It comes in two versions, Blanco and Reposado, the latter aged four months in American white oak. Coming in at No. 10, Cimarrón knocks Espolòn off the list of 10 best-selling tequilas in 2018.