With its many styles and sophisticated flavors ranging from fruity and herbal to citrusy and spicy, tequila remains a steadfast bartender favorite. Although its complexity is best appreciated when sipped neat, the spirit can also bring rich and distinctive flavors to cocktails. Complementing a wide variety of ingredients, tequila brings depth and texture to drinks, making it a perfect base for the experimental bartender.
Below, bar professionals from around the country recommend smooth and aromatic blancos that sing in cocktails, nuanced reposados, and rich, decadent añejos perfect when swapped for more traditional dark spirits in beloved classics. For readers who can’t decide on just one bottle, there’s a cristalino as well — a blend of reposado, añejo, and extra añejo tequilas. Happy hunting!
The Best Tequilas for Mixing Cocktails, According to Bartenders
- Elvelo Tequila
- Lunazul Tequila
- Tequila Ocho Plata
- Cimarron Blanco
- Cimarron Reposado
- El Tesoro
- La Gritona Reposado
- Curamia Reposado
- Pueblo Viejo Blanco
- Tequila ARETTE Artesanal Blanco Suave
- Tequila ARETTE Clásica Blanco
- Tapatío Blanco
- Tapatío 110
- Volcán De Mi Tierra Blanco
- Olmeca Altos
- PATRÓN Silver
- PATRÓN Añejo Sherry Cask Aged
- Gran Centenario
- el Jimador
- Corzo Añejo
- Milagro Tequila Select Barrel Line
- Maestro Dobel Diamanté
“This will probably be the category everyone has the strongest opinion about, and you should drink whatever you think is delicious, but I also believe in knowing what you’re drinking. So, I’m going to recommend Elvelo Tequila, which is an additive-free option that’s made specifically for mixing cocktails. It clocks in at a slightly higher proof than average to help it stand out in your drinks. It’s salty and mineral-driven, and it’s made from entirely valley-grown agaves.” —Ryan Lotz, beverage director, Traveler St. Hospitality (Bar Mezzana, Black Lamb, and Shore Leave), Boston
“I don’t like using the phrase ‘the best’ for anything, but I love to recommend bottles that have multiple uses across the bar. A recent rediscovery for me has been Lunazul Tequila. It has subtle floral aromas, minerality, and pepper, with dried oregano. It also has a bit of fruit notes such as apple, and it finishes with some creaminess and vanilla. Since it is a spicy, creamy blanco tequila, it has the ability to mix well with many ingredients, making it a useful tequila in your cocktail arsenal.” —Lynnette Marrero, co-founder, Speed Rack, NYC
“Tequila Ocho Plata: It’s an estate-grown tequila with prominent agave flavor and citrus notes that do not overpower other ingredients.” —Eric Lambright, lead bartender, Sorry Charlie’s, Savannah, Ga.
“My favorite blanco tequila for mixing cocktails would have to be Cimarron. It stands up to most ingredients, which makes it perfect for use in a variety of cocktails. It is aromatic and flavorful, with a delicate balance of earthiness and black pepper also making it delightful to enjoy on its own. It is priced at a little over $20; however, it’s definitely a great bang for your buck.” —Benjamin Brown, head bartender, Porchlight, NYC
“For stirred cocktails: Cimarron Reposado. Distilled in Atotonilco, Jalisco, at 4,600 feet, straightforward in aromatic cocktails, aged in American white oak barrels for four months. It doesn’t hide itself nor does it try to make itself the star of the show. It’s perfect in La Rosita, Jalisco Old Fashioned, or Jalisco Martinez.” —Marco Salas, bartender, Apothecary, Dallas
“The El Tesoro line of tequilas is a personal favorite of mine. They grow their agave in the highlands region of Jalisco in a high altitude with mineral-rich soil. Their blanco is particularly peppery with really pleasant fresh grassy notes. It’s great on its own or makes a surprisingly complex Margarita.” —Bryan Schneider, bar director, Quality Branded, NYC
“I love using El Tesoro Tequila made by Don Felipe Camarena at the La Alteña Distillery in the mineral-rich highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. It’s a staple for any bar or household and easily mixes for any occasion or celebration. The blanco has a very clean flavor with subtle green notes and white peppercorn. The reposado is a fan favorite; smoky oak with hints of fruit, vanilla, and dill coming from the ex-American oak barrels that they age up to 11 months. Lastly, their añejo, which is aged up to three years, is a masterpiece that has a floral, jasmine, and oaky character with agave back notes, making it great for sipping neat or being a creative backbone to a cocktail. We currently use the El Tesoro Blanco in our house Margarita at Shinji’s.” —Beau Bradley, head bartender, Shinji’s, NYC
“La Gritona Reposado has a great flavor. When we think of mixing, it has a nice peppery quality and a great weight that works well with mixed cocktails. It’s also a female-owned distillery, which is pretty cool as well.” —Lex Madden, bar manager, Point Easy, Denver
“Lately, the best tequila for mixing cocktails to me has become Curamia Reposado, a great tequila with hints of vanilla and coconut on the nose and slight herbaceousness on the palate, with a finish that is luxurious with soft oak notes. This tequila makes excellent Palomas and Margaritas that are super balanced. I have also used it as a split base in a Naked & Famous, and it is the base in one of the cocktails on our current list at Hen House. This cocktail is called Banana Pancakes, and it utilizes Curamia Reposado as the base spirit and has slight hints of banana and smoke. I highly recommend Curamia Reposado for cocktails — its blanco is a great alternative, too.” —Tony Nguyen, bar director, Hen House, Memphis, Tenn.
“What I look for in a cocktail tequila first and foremost is flavor profile. Ideally, you want clean and straightforward agave notes backed up by something that makes it a little interesting to play around with. All three of Teremana’s age classes have the perfect bones for cocktailing. The blanco is crisp and citrusy, allowing it to shine in any shaken cocktail; the reposado has just enough wood to allow it to stand out both in shaken and citrusy cocktails as well as stirred, silky, and spirit-forward cocktails; and the añejo is deep and rich with complex caramel and vanilla notes that form an elegant base for layered and sophisticated sipping cocktails. Teremana is also made in small batches with attention given to the integrity of the agave and the entire production process, which is important to consider given that agave plants themselves take so long to mature and are therefore uniquely expressive of the land and climate in which they grow. All this with a super-approachable price point? It’s a no-brainer!” —Resa Mueller, bartender, R&D Philly, Philadelphia
“Pueblo Viejo Blanco is solid. Great expression of agave at a good price point makes this our go-to for all tequila-based cocktails, whether mixing a Margarita or Paloma.” —James O’Brien, partner/beverage director, Gus’s Chop House, Brooklyn
“Pueblo Viejo Blanco: P.V. is such a great baseline tequila. We’ve carried it for years, and it is such an authentic product that never wavers in quality. Our chef and my friend at Borrachito, Yuval, swears by it. Considering he is from Tequila, I side with him on this one.” —Max Stampa-Brown, beverage director, The Garret Group, NYC
“Tequila ARETTE Artesanal Suave Blanco is a delicious mixing or sipping tequila from the lowlands. Unlike their standard release, the Artesanal is cooked via brick ovens versus autoclave, and the results are delicious.” —Ryan Williams, bar leader and supervisor, Poka Lola Social Club and Kachina Cantina, Denver
“I really like Tequila ARETTE Clásica Blanco. It has a sweet aloe and ginger flavor as well as crisp minerality, making for a really refreshing Margarita while being equally nice to sip neat. It’s very affordable, too!” —Tyler Cazes, general manager, Lengua Madre, New Orleans
“Far and away the best value tequila for use in cocktails is Tapatío Blanco. This Los Altos tequila from Carlos Camarena’s La Alteña distillery features a complex balance of cooked agave, black pepper, bright citrus, minerals, green grass, and stewed fruits. All of this is supported by a backbone of undertones of vanilla and baking spices. It’s fantastic on its own as a neat pour but stands up wonderfully in almost any cocktail you can have the pleasure of treating yourself to.” —Justin Lavenue, owner/operator and co-founder, The Roosevelt Room, Austin
“Tapatío Blanco: A handmade tequila that is respectful of tradition and process. Tapatío Blanco is transparent about process and ultimately a tequila that allows natural flavors of agave shine.” —Harrison Ginsberg, bar director, Overstory, NYC
“I’m a big fan of Tapatío 110, made from 100 percent Blue Weber agave by the Camarena family in the Los Altos region of Jalisco. It is a superb blanco tequila for mixing cocktails. It boasts tons of agave, minerality, and herbal notes. This tequila definitely packs a punch at 55 percent ABV but maintains a touch of sweet citrus which can stand up to any cocktail you can throw at it.” —Mat Resler, bartender, Bar Goto and Bar Goto Niban, NYC
“LALO: Not only because the owner and master distiller is one of the best of his craft but because this tequila is literally everything you ever wanted from a blanco. Impressively rich and still smooth, flavorful but not overpowering, and the perfect amount of Mexican fire to use in cocktails. A delicate blanco that you can even enjoy on its own, and there are not many out there (it also has zero additives).” —Nils Schabert, director of bars, Rosewood Miramar Beach, Montecito, Calif.
“I recently started working with Volcán De Mi Tierra Blanco tequila and found it very versatile for mixing various cocktails, considering there are so many flavor profile tequilas out there. Volcán is a mix of both lowlands and highlands agave. You get more of the fruit and floral-forward notes such as pear, cherries, and grapefruit from the highlands; and more minerality and earthiness from the lowlands such as agave, black pepper, anise, and cinnamon with a buttery texture and oily mouthfeel. It works great in citrus-forward drinks, as well as spirit-forward and stirred drinks such as the Rosita or tequila Manhattan.” —Amir Babayoff, bar director, Ophelia, NYC
“I like [Olmeca] Altos or Espolòn for mixing as they are reasonably priced and don’t have the overly vanilla syrupy thing going on that some brands do.” —Nicholas Lappen, bartender, Backbar, Somerville, Mass.
“I would choose PATRÓN Silver from Jalisco, Mexico, and use it in a classic Margarita. I look for a tequila made with 100 percent Blue Agave, and that’s the case with PATRÓN Silver; it’s crystal clear, light, fresh, and smooth.” —Alex Serena, bar manager, Teleferic Barcelona, Palo Alto, Calif.
“I’ve been really heavy into Espresso Martinis and whiskey-based classics lately, but have been switching out the base spirits for the PATRÓN Añejo Sherry Cask. Rich wood and a slight touch of sweeter sherry notes all play together beautifully to create a delicious base. It is a limited release from the hacienda, so run, don’t walk to your nearest bottle shop and get it before it’s gone.” —Phil Collins, beverage director, TableOne Hospitality (Mother Tongue, Los Angeles/La Société Bar & Cafe, San Francisco), NYC
“A juicy and well-made blanco for a tequila Old Fashioned is my first thought — something like Gran Centenario, or even more affordable, el Jimador. Añejo such as Corzo or the Select Barrel line from Milagro for a tequila Manhattan on special occasions is great as well.” —David Porcaro II, mixologist, Sparrow + Wolf, Las Vegas
“Different tequilas serve different purposes, so it is difficult to have one tequila as the universal ‘best’ for mixing cocktails, but we find the most universal for us is Maestro Dobel Diamanté. It is a combination of a reposado, añejo, and extra añejo — so it can serve the purpose of a top-shelf tequila, but at the same time, its oak barrel aging and clear finish has the versatility of a silver tequila for mixing cocktails. If you were playing a roulette game of not knowing what tequila cocktail you’d be making next, I’d choose Dobel as my go-to.” —Tim Sweeney, head bartender, Pebble Bar, NYC