Blanco, reposado, añejo. However you like your tequila, one thing’s for sure: It can make a mean cocktail. And while a Margarita may be your go-to, it might be time to switch things up and go for something a little more creative.
We chatted with some of our favorite bartender friends to get the low-down on the tequila cocktails that deserve to be ordered way more often. From summertime favorites like Ranch Water to the lesser-known bubbly-topped Jalisco Flower, these are 10 bartenders’ recommendations for tequila cocktails to add to your repertoire.
The Most Underrated Tequila Cocktails:
- Ranch Water
- Tequila Martini
- Tequila Old Fashioned
- El Diablo
- Tommy’s Margarita
- Jalisco Flower
Keep reading for details about all of the recommended cocktails!
“The Ranch Water is the most underrated tequila cocktail. A well-made Ranch Water using a good sparkling mineral water and some light citrus should accentuate and highlight a well-made tequila. It is a match made in heaven and is easy on the hangovers. My cocktail of the summer.” —Morgan Hurley, Bartender and Beverage Director, Mex1 Coastal Cantina, Charleston, S.C.
“Tequila Martini. No one ever thinks to order a tequila Martini, but it is my favorite option and beats out any vodka or gin versions I have ever tried! It has an interesting flavor when combined with olive brine, and is a more ‘unexpected’ option then your typical Martini.” —Valerie Murrieta, In-House Mixologist, Estancia La Jolla Hotel, La Jolla, Calif.
“The Siesta! Depending on your tequila, Campari and a good, warm tequila profile can be a match made in heaven. The bitterness of Campari and grapefruit make it one of my favorite after-dinner drinks!” —Meg Hoberg, Lead Bartender, Sidebar at Bode Nashville, Nashville
“The Paloma, I feel, doesn’t get the credit it deserves when compared to the Margarita. I think we need to start stepping out of our comfort zone with that automatic drink order and think about what we really want — and for me, in the realm of tequila, that has to be the Paloma! Grapefruit adds complexity — I like to use a little grapefruit juice along with the grapefruit soda. Add a splash of mezcal to really spice things up!” —Keith Mrotek, Bar Manager, P.S. Steak, Minneapolis
“The most underrated tequila cocktail to me is a twist on the Old Fashioned, made with reposado instead. I always use Código 1530 as the base for all of my tequila cocktails as I prefer an additive-free, non-vanilla flavor profile. I also find the wine barrels that they age it in adds a lovely layer to the cocktails.” —Jesse Lubell, Bartender/Mixologist, Meat On Ocean, Santa Monica, Calif.
“The most underrated tequila cocktail, and also my favorite, is El Diablo. The blend of tequila, repo preferably, ginger syrup, lime, PAMA [pomegranate liqueur], and soda water is a refreshing and sophisticated cocktail for anyone to enjoy.” —Darren Fallon, Lead Mixologist, The Watch: Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits at The Restoration Hotel, Charleston, S.C.
“[Tommy’s Margarita.] This cocktail does not need much to make it what it is. Lime juice and splash of simple (agave) syrup opens the tequila flavor. You must truly enjoy the tequila taste to enjoy as there is no disguising it here.” —Andrii Palokha, Bartender, The Chester at Gansevoort Meatpacking’s American Bistro, NYC
“A tequila cocktail that doesn’t get as much attention as it should, probably as it is mostly known only in the region of Los Angeles, is the Jalisco Flower, created in 2008 by Vincenzo Marianella. It consists of 1 ounce grapefruit juice, 3/4 ounce elderflower liqueur, and 3/4 ounce tequila; shaken together, served in a coupe and generously topped with bubbles.” —Naomi Schimek, Mixologist, Soulmate, Los Angeles
“The Paloma. It’s the No. 1 cocktail in all of Mexico. It’s recognized as an easy and refreshing drink to make.” —Pim Berkeley, Property Beverage Manager, Pasea Hotel, Huntington Beach, Calif.
“El Diablo. This is the adult Tequila Sunrise. Simply put, it’s an incredibly refreshing tequila highball.” —MacKenzie Conway, Beverage Manager at Fight Club DC popup at Beuchert’s Saloon, Washington, D.C.