Between the undeniable popularity of the Margarita and the emergence of celebrity-backed brands, tequila is trending. And while there are countless ways to enjoy the spirit — both on its own and in cocktails — we’re taking it back to basics with the classic tequila recipes we can’t get enough of.
Looking to embrace agave this spring? Read on for the eight essential tequila cocktail recipes that showcase the simple elegance of the Mexican spirit.
Forever the hero of summertime, the Margarita is the world’s most beloved tequila cocktail. And for good reason. The beauty of this three-ingredient beverage is in its simplicity. Just combine blanco tequila with lime juice and the orange liqueur of your choice, shake with ice, and strain into a glass with ice. Garnish with a lime, and be instantly transported to a tropical paradise.
After the Marg, the Paloma is the second most ordered tequila drink at cocktail bars around the world. The simple drink requires only four ingredients and can be built directly in the glass, making for easy cleanup. To build, add reposado or blanco tequila to your glass, and top with lime juice, salt, and grapefruit soda. This sessionable cocktail is sure to become an instant favorite.
Originally crafted in the 1930s in Arizona and popularized in the ‘70s by the Rolling Stones, this three-ingredient libation is named after its recognizable color gradient resembling a sunrise. To perfect the drink’s famed colorway, add tequila and orange juice to a Highball glass, and use a spoon to sink grenadine to the bottom of the glass — no mixing necessary.
A sibling of the Bloody Mary, the Bloody Maria substitutes tequila for vodka. While the classic recipe simply combines tequila with tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper, this version adds chocolate-chili bitters for an evening-time take on the brunch staple.
Originally a riff on the classic Margarita, the Tommy’s Margarita has become an essential cocktail in its own right — finding its way onto the list of the 50 most popular beverages in the world. Invented in San Francisco by a bartender named Julio Bermejo at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, the Margarita variation simply swaps out orange liqueur for agave nectar.
Over the past few years, the Negroni has made a comeback, becoming a staple for drinks pros and home bartenders alike. Though the original recipe uses gin, tequila-lovers can easy sub in their favorite spirit for a balanced riff on the classic drink. For this recipe, we use Campari and sweet vermouth, but also add in a blood orange and ginger shrub for added freshness.
This Texas staple has recently found its way onto bar menus across the country. A simple combination of Topo Chico, blanco tequila, and lime juice, Ranch Water is best served in a Topo Chico bottle and drunk on the hottest of summer days. It’s both refreshing and simple to concoct, meaning it’s easier to drink like a rancher than you might think.
For a take on the Margarita ideal for chillier days, try out this festive recipe with a holiday twist. In a shaker, add ice, reposado tequila, lime juice, cranberry juice, and spiced-pear syrup (made with cinnamon, cloves, sugar, water, and pear). Shake, and strain into a glass rimmed with salt and chili. For a seasonal touch, garnish with fresh cranberries and a pear fan.