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What Tequila Should You Buy?

What Tequila Should You Buy?

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Tequila: It isn’t just an ingredient for margaritas, nor is it just for shots during happy hour.

Tequila is a spirit with a rich history and a wide diversity of styles, production distinctions, and flavor profiles. Just as you have to keep tasting wines, gins, or whiskeys to find the ones that are right for you, so it is with tequila.

Once you do, you’ll discover a spirit that’s subtle, playful, and full of flavor—with none of the cheap burn you may remember from your youth.


This tequila guide will cover what makes a tequila a tequila and go over some basic definitions so you can dazzle yourself and others with tequila knowledge. I’ll provide some recommendations for tequilas that are widely available so you can begin to stock your home bar and ensure the best tequila experience for your next party or quiet night at home.


Just as French law states that champagne can only be made in the Champagne region of France using specific ingredients and methods, Mexican laws detail what is and is not a tequila. These laws are recognized by more than 40 countries through various trade agreements.

Mexican guidelines state that tequila must meet the following guidelines:

  • Tequila can only be distilled from only the blue agave plant.
  • Tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and limited municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas.

Fun fact! The name tequila comes from the city of Tequila, which was established in 1666, though tequila was produced long before the town was born.


While grapes, wheat, or corn can be harvested a few months to a few years later before being processed and distilled into alcohol, the blue agave plants used to make tequila are different. They take about 10 years to grow before they’re ready to be harvested for tequila.

The labor-intensive harvesting is done by hand by agave farmers known as jimadores. Here are the main steps for turning agave into tequila:

  • Agave harvesting: When ready to be harvested, the spiny leaves and roots are cut off the main plant body, called the agave heart or piña, which goes to processing.
  • Process the agave: The hearts are slowly baked, which can sometimes take days. The slow cooking reduces caramelization and prevents the juices from turning bitter, thus maintaining the flavor of the agave.
  • Crush the agave: Afterwards, the cooked hearts are crushed to release their sugary juices. This can be done by a mechanical crusher and grinder, or by the traditional way using a volcanic stone wheel called a tahona. Historically, a mule pulled the tahona, but these days an electric motor does the job. In theory, this slower practice of extracting agave nectar that will be fermented and distilled creates a more robust and complex flavor.
  • Ferment the agave into tequila: The extracted juices are then fermented and twice-distilled as dictated by regulations. The distilled alcohol can then be bottled straight away or aged in wooden containers.

Classic Margarita made with blanco tequila


A tequila can be organized into two categories, mixto tequilas and 100% agave tequilas.

Mixto tequilas are made with no less than 51% agave, with the other 49% usually being fermented sugar cane juice. The result is a tequila that’s very sweet in both smell and taste. However, the flavor usually stops there.

These mixto tequilas are often harsh in flavor, burn on the way down, and thus are inferior to other tequilas. Golden-colored mixtos are called joven (young) or oro (gold) tequilas and have oak flavoring and coloring added. The reason these are made in the first place is because they’re affordable to make for producers and, frankly, they sell well in stores due to their low price point.

Mixtos aren’t ideal and I generally don’t recommend buying them. But if you’re planning a big party with a tequila-based punch that has a lot of juices and flavors to help mask the mixto, then a mixto is a practical option.

If a tequila is labeled as “100% agave,” this means that the tequila in question was made with only blue agave. Generally, it’s recommended by most bartenders and tequila enthusiasts (and by your friendly Our Site team) that you only buy tequilas which clearly state this on the label, as it will guarantee you a much better product that has a more complex flavor and significantly less burn.

Pineapple Jalapeño Margaritas made with reposado or Añejo tequila.


The amount of aging and the amount of agave used to make a tequila are what create the different varieties. Each variety has a different type of flavor, aroma, and price point.

These are blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo.

  • Blanco: Blanco means “white,” but these tequilas are also known as plato (silver) tequilas. These tequilas are bottled right after distillation, or they are rested in wood barrels (both French and American oak barrels are used, but some companies even use old Spanish sherry barrels) for up to 60 days. The flavors and aromas of these tequilas can be herbal, floral, citric, and a bit fruity. Vegetal notes of poblano and green pepper can predominate.
  • Reposado: Reposado translates to “rested,” and these tequilas are aged in wooden barrels anywhere from 2 months to a year. Their color is usually a softened, amber color. The flavors will be a bit woodier and less herbal, with hints of vanilla, butter, and brown sugar.
  • Añejo: Tequila aged for 1 to 3 years are añejos, which translates to “old” or “aged.” The colors will be darker and more golden from the extended time spent aging in wood. Expect a much smoother tequila with big notes of spice, earth, smoke, vanilla, caramel, and peat. Añejos are generally more expensive than reposados due to the extended aging, though for most cocktail purposes the two are interchangeable. I recommend you start with reposado and see how you like it before dropping the extra cash for an añejo.
  • Extra Añejo: Añejos that are aged in wood for more than three years. These are the priciest tequilas and, generally, should only be sipped so as to appreciate the nuanced flavors, aromas, and craftsmanship. The flavor is intensely woody, with a more pronounced burnt caramel flavor similar to very aged whiskey or even rye. If you find yourself striving to become a tequila connoisseur (aka: a Maestro Tequilero, or Tequila Master/Expert) then these are worth the investment.
  • Mezcal: While all tequilas are mezcals, not all mezcals are tequilas. Tequila can only be produced using blue agave, but mezcal can be made from up to 28 different agave varieties. The agave is usually cooked for a few days underground over hot rocks or in cone-shaped fire pits. The result is a spirit defined by smoky flavors and aromas. Mezcal is often a bit heavier and sweeter than tequila. If you’re a fan of peaty scotch and the aroma of smoky BBQ pits, then mezcal may be for you.

Keep in mind that añejo doesn’t mean “best,” it just means “oldest.” If you prefer the flavor of blanco, then buy blanco. Extra añejos are often the most expensive tequilas.


The tequilas recommended here are by no means a comprehensive list, but rather suggestions for widely available tequilas across many price points.

Some good buying guidelines are:

  • Avoid anything that is packaged in plastic or that costs less than $15 as these are signs of cheap tequila that’ll burn like hellfire down your throat and taste like lighter fluid.
  • Buy only tequila that states “100% agave” on the bottle.
  • It’s perfectly reasonable to find a smooth, flavorful tequila for $25-$30 that’s great for shots, cocktails, or sipping. A high price does not always indicate high quality.
  • If there’s a worm or scorpion or, really, any animal in the bottle, then don’t buy it. It’s a marketing gimmick used to sell cheaply produced tequilas (likely a mixto) and it’s almost guaranteed to be dreck.


Jose Cuervo Especial

The only mixto on the list, meaning it’s not 100% agave. Its affordable price point and general smoothness make it a good workhorse tequila.

  • Aroma: Sweet, sweet, sweet.
  • Taste: Very sugary followed by notes of citrus and pepper. Light and mild. If you don’t drink tequila too often then this may give you a bit of burn on the way down. Mixtos are best served well-chilled to keep their sweetness in check.
  • Good For: Cooking purposes and punch bowls. If you’re going to use a tequila for cooking or marinades, then Jose Cuervo Especial is an ideal candidate. It’s not recommended for shots or for sipping, but great for a Long Island iced tea or other cocktails where the flavor of the tequila is negligible and other ingredients will lessen the sting of the tequila, such as this Long Island Iced Tea.
  • Price: Around $20-$25.


1800 Silver Tequila

1800 Silver is a smooth tequila that spends 15 days resting in American oak barrels with a little bit of French oak added in. The name 1800 comes from the year tequila was first successfully aged in oak casks.

  • Aroma: The aroma is reminiscent of oak with hints of citrus.
  • Taste: Not as sweet as other tequilas; a predominant lime flavor. If you enjoy dry white wines such as pinot grigio or enjoy quality vodka then this is the tequila for you.
  • Good For: Tequila shots, punch bowls, and tequila-based cocktails. An all-around good tequila and wonderful in a watermelon margarita. Consider swapping out rum for this tequila in a mojito.
  • Price: $20-$35, depending on bottle size and where you purchase. This brand occasionally goes on sale for $15; when it does pick it up for a future party or to use as a gift.

Don Julio Blanco

Don Julio’s distillery steam-cooks their agave for 72 hours before being fermented and then going through two distillations, resulting in a richer and sweeter flavor. The tequila sees zero wood aging and goes straight to the bottle.

  • Aroma: Pineapple, lime, and sage.
  • Taste: The flavor starts with pineapple and lime before relaxing into sage and green bell pepper. Very smooth on the way down. If you’re trying to re-introduce someone to tequila who had a bad experience with it in their youth, this is a great one to start with. The herbaceous, peaty flavor at the finish makes this a good tequila for fans of scotch.
  • Good For: Don’t cover up the flavor of this tequila in complicated cocktails. Serve over ice for sipping or use in a classic margarita.
  • Price: $35-$40. The tequila to use for dinner parties and serving to friends who appreciate good food and drink.

Patron Silver

Introduced in 1989, Patrón Silver Tequila is often associated with premium tequila due to aggressive marketing in the 1990s, which branded Patrón as a sophisticated spirit. The slow-roasted agave is processed using half tahona-crushed agave and half modern roller-mill crushed agave before fermentation in wooden vats. Fun fact: this brand was co-founded by John Paul DeJoria of John Paul Mitchell hair products.

  • Aroma: Almost zero aroma.
  • Taste: Patron Silver is clean tasting, with hints of citrus and white pepper. It has what most would consider to be a classic tequila flavor. Some love Patrón because it’s what they grew up with, while others find it a bit harsh.
  • Good For: Patron Silver is a standard-bearer tequila. Great for sipping, shots, or cocktails, but there are better options for each of these purposes. It’s a jack of all trades, but master of none. Try it in a blueberry margarita or pomegranate paloma.
  • Price: $35-$45. A fine tequila, but its high price can be off-putting. Best to buy when on sale.


Leyenda del Milagro Reposado

A triple-distilled tequila, this brand’s iconic tall, skinny bottle has made it a popular choice for tequila. The hay-colored reposado spends six months aging in American oak whiskey barrels. Leyenda also produces an excellent silver tequila worth trying, as well as a wonderful and affordable añejo.

  • Aroma: Very oaky, with hints of straw and baking spices.
  • Taste: The taste is buttery from the oak with flavors of citrus, butterscotch, and vanilla. There’s also a natural saltiness to this tequila that makes the sweeter flavors even better; it’s very smooth to drink. If you love California chardonnays or are a fan of whiskey, this is your tequila.
  • Good For: Substitute this tequila for whiskey in cocktails. Pairs well with lime, orange, and tropical fruits such as pineapple. A phenomenal reposado for shots and for cocktails. Fantastic in a pineapple and jalapeño margarita.
  • Price: $20-$25. Can’t go wrong here. (Leyenda del Milagro also makes an añejo that goes for about $30-40. The flavor is woody and grassy, and it is very smooth.)

Casamigos Tequila Reposado

Casamigos (loosely translated to “house of friends”) is the popular tequila created by George Clooney. Celebrity brands of alcohol are often disappointing; however, Casamigos tequilas are all solid (they come in plato, reposado, and añejo). The reposado is aged for seven months in whiskey barrels. Most tequilas are 76 proof (38% alcohol) but this one is 80 proof (40% alcohol). However, it’s so smooth you’d never know it.

  • Aroma: Tropical flavors of pineapple and passionfruit backed up with vanilla.
  • Taste: Almost opposite to the aroma, this reposado bursts in your mouth with the taste of mint, sarsaparilla (root beer flavor), and vanilla. Extremely smooth and goes down dangerously easily. Strangely, it almost doesn’t taste much like tequila.
  • Good For: This is the gateway spirit for the friend who doesn’t like tequila. Use in a tequila hot toddy (yes, that’s a thing!) or serve over ice for sipping. Cocktail-wise, the classic margarita is probably the best way to go.
  • Price: $30-$45. It’s a popular brand and goes on sale often so keep your eyes out. (Casamigos also makes an excellent añejo that has hints of cocoa and caramel, but it runs about $50-$60. If you fall in love with their reposado, it’s worth considering the splurge.)


Olmeca Altos Añejo

A strange origin story for tequila, Olmeca Altos was started by two UK bartenders and an expert tequila master from Mexico. The agave is slow roasted in brick ovens and tahona-crushed before a double-distillation in copper stills. The tequila is aged for 18 months in bourbon oak barrels.

  • Aroma: Vanilla and almond are predominant. In a way it’s almost Christmas-y.
  • Taste: Roasted flavors of vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, and brown butter. The tequila is the smoothest one on the list and slides down with zero burn.
  • Good For: Elegant and perfect in a pineapple margarita, or served over ice with a slice of orange and sipped on a hot afternoon.
  • Price: $20-$30, depending on where you buy. With this price, you could even use it for guilt-free shots.


Vida Mezcal

There aren’t a lot of widely available mezcals on the market, but you can usually find Vida at liquor stores and certainly online. Mezcals are a love-it-or-hate-it spirit, and how much you enjoy the flavor of smoke will be the deciding factor for you.

  • Aroma: Smoke, smoke, and smoke. Oh, and some poblano pepper.
  • Taste: While all mezcals are smoky, this one is particularly so. The smoke is reminiscent of eucalyptus. This tequila has an oiliness to it that’s characteristic of mezcals and so it feels heavier on the tongue and finishes with a citric flavor. No burn and goes down easily.
  • Good For: Use in cocktails, punches, shots, and sipping. You can swap mezcal for tequila in most recipes. (To mix up your next brunch use it in place of vodka in a Bloody Mary.) If you enjoy the smell of a good cigar, then you’ll love mezcal.
  • Price: $30-$35. A fine price for a mezcal. Not too cheap and not too pricey.


  • Classic Margarita
  • Watermelon Pitcher Margaritas
  • Pineapple Jalapeño Margaritas
  • Blueberry Pitcher Margarita
  • Pomegranate Paloma
  • Long Island Iced Tea

The 12 Best Tequilas for Margaritas in 2021, According to Bartenders

We tend to celebrate the good and bad times with the margarita, one of the most popular tequila-based drinks here in the states. This citrus-fueled potent potable brings refreshment, vibrancy, and a nice spirited kick to any happy hour, casual dinner, or backyard barbecue.

If you want to mix up the finest possible version of this classic libation — either because you want to try some of the best tequila cocktail recipes or to chill out — then you’ll need to seek out a tequila cocktail (or another agave spirit) well suited to this purpose, and we’ve got 12 suggestions for you right here, offered up by a group of professional bartenders from across the United States.

We’ve also found the best margarita mixes and cheap tequila to fuel your margarita dreams.

26 Tequila Drinks More Exciting Than A Basic Margarita

From paloma cocktails to mezcalitas, here's what to make and order.

The last year has helped a lot of us get into cocktail making at home, so as the season heats up you might be looking for some ways to spice up your drink repertoire, especially when it comes to tequila. Don't get us wrong&mdashwe still love a margarita, but there's no reason for your tequila journey to end with lime and a salt rim. From tropical fruits to smoky, spirit forward sips, tequila has a versatility that's poised to shake up your bar cart and a reputation for fun that makes it a guaranteed crowd pleaser no matter how you mix it. Not sure how to make the most of those silvers, golds, reposados, añejos, and extra añejos? These flavorful recipes (and, okay, a few margaritas too) are guaranteed to expand your agave horizons and take any party up a notch.


2 oz Casamigos Reposado
1.5 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup
8-10 mint leaves


Muddle herbs. Combine all ingredients into tin shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously for 8&ndash10 seconds. Fine strain into highball glass. Add fresh ice. Garnish with grapefruit wheel and mint sprig.


1.5 oz Corralejo Reposado Tequila
.5 VIDA Mezcal
1 bar spoon agave nectar
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Bittermens Xocaloctl Bitters


Stir all ingredients with ice and strain over a large format ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with a long peel of an orange and its oils.


1.5 oz Milagro Tequila
1 oz Coco Lopez cream of coconut
.5 oz lime juice


Combine all ingredients and shake over ice. Serve with a salted or spiced rim.

From Fishbowl at Dream Midtown in New York City


2 oz Milagro Select Reposado
.75 oz vermouth bianco
1 dash orange bitters
Lemon twist


Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and stir until cold. Strain Into a chilled cocktail coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.


2 oz Tres Agaves Reposado
.5 oz grapefruit juice
.75 oz lime juice
.75 oz simple syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Top with grapefruit soda (such as Squirt or Jarritos)


Add all ingredients except soda in the shaker add ice, shake and strain over ice. Top off with Mexican soda and garnish with lime wheel.

By Alex Valencia of La Contenta in New York City


4 slices ginger
1 oz Maestro Dobel Tequila
.5 oz Mavrakis Tsipouro
1 oz lime juice
.75 oz Chambord
.5 oz agave
1 dash Angostura bitters


Muddle ginger into the bottom of a shaker. Combine all other ingredients in shaker over ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with sage.


1.5 oz Blue Nectar Silver
3-4 slices of cucumber
.75 oz Cointreau
1.5 oz lime juice
1.5 oz lime simple syrup*


Muddle cucumber with Blue Nectar Tequila. Add remaining ingredients and shake over ice. Strain into rocks glass. Garnish with cucumber slice.

*Lime Syrup: Combine 2 cups of water, 1.5 cups of sugar, and zest of 1 lime in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool until ready for use.

By Jeremy Seaver of Tio's Mexican Cafe in Ann Arbor, Michigan


3 oz Casamigos Anejo Tequila
.75 tsp maple syrup
4 dashes Orange Bitters


Add all ingredients to mixing glass, add large ice, and stir thoroughly. Taste for balance and single strain into a rocks glass. Garnish and serve.

From Geoffrey Zakarian's Point Royal at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida


1.5 oz Casamigos Tequila
1 oz prickly pear purée
.75 oz agave
.75 oz lime juice


Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice and shake. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with a salt rim and lime.

From Fishbowl at Dream Midtown in New York City


2 oz Herradura Blanco
1 oz Rosemary-infused simple syrup*
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz store-bought pear puree
Splash club soda


Add all ingredients (except club soda) to cocktail shaker and shake to combine. Pour into Collins glass, served on the rocks. Top with splash of club soda. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprig.

*Rosemary Syrup: Bring to boil over medium heat 1 cup
granulated sugar, 1 cup water and 6 fresh rosemary sprigs. Simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.

By Drew Sweeney of Bodega Negra in New York City


2 oz Clase Azul Plata Tequila
1 oz Passionfruit juice
.25 oz Allspice Dram
.25 oz lime juice
.25 oz Cardamaro Amaro


Add all ingredients to a shaker tin with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a candied hibiscus flower.


1.5 oz Silver Tequila
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 blood orange juice
.75 oz simple syrup
1 oz lime juice


Fill a mixing tin with ice. Add all ingredients and shake vigorously. Empty shaker contents into a rocks glass with a salted rim. Garnish with a blood orange slice.


.75 oz Sangrita Mix*
.75 oz lime juice
1.5 oz pineapple juice
2 oz Mezcal
Smoked Salt
1 Lime


Line the rim of a glass with smoked salt by first coating with lime and rolling in salt. Pour all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake before straining into a glass with ice. Garnish with a slice of lime.

*Sangrita: Blend half of a pineapple, 1 cucumber, 1 pint of blackberries, 5 ancho chilies, 1.5 cup lime juice, 1 cup orange juice, .5 cup pomegranate juice, and 1.5 cup sugar and strain.
Refrigerate and store for up to 2 weeks.

From Tapestry in New York City


1 oz El Tesoro tequila
.5 oz lemon juice
1 oz fresh apple juice
.5 oz simple syrup


Combine all ingredients and serve in a Champagne glass with a lemon twist.


1.5 oz tequila blanco
1.5 oz fresh lime juice
.75 oz Cointreau
1.5 oz simple syrup
A few drops blue curacao
A few drops grenadine


Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Pour over ice into a rocks glass and garnish with lemon wedge and jalapeno slice.


2 oz Casamigos Añejo
.5 oz simple syrup
2 dashes angostura bitters
2 dashes banana bitters


Add all ingredients in mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into bucket glass over single ice block. Garnish with a bruleed plantain.


2 oz Tres Agaves Blanco
.75 oz lime juice
.75 oz Tres Agaves Agave Syrup
1 slice of jalapeno (no seeds)
2 cucumber slices
6-8 small basil leaves


Place basil, jalapeno, and cucumber slices in shaker add agave syrup and muddle. Add in rest of the ingredients and ice. Shake, double strain and serve over ice in lowball glass garnish with a Tajin rim.

By Alex Valencia of La Contenta in New York City


1.25 oz Montelobos Mezcal
.75 oz Ancho Reyes Verde
.75 oz strong green tea
1 oz fresh lime juice
5 mint leaves
Simple syrup to taste


Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake and serve, garnished with a mint sprig and lime wheel.


2 oz Avion Silver Tequila
.5 oz Grand Marnier
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz lemon juice
1.5 oz Ghost Chili Simple Syrup*


Add all ingredients together with ice in a cocktail shaker, shake and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass that has a chili salt rim. Serve with a lime wheel and enjoy.

*Ghost Chili Simple Syrup : Take 1 cup of water and 1 cup of brown demerara with one dried ghost chili pepper, bring to a boil and let cool.

By Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter in New York City


1.5 oz El Jimador Reposado
.5 oz Amaro di Angostura
.5 oz maple syrup
.5 oz grapefruit juice
.75 oz lemon juice
.25 oz simple syrup


Mix all ingredients and serve on the rocks. Garnish with a lemon wheel.


1.5 oz Sombra Mezcal
1 oz grapefruit juice
.5 oz lime juice
.5 oz rosemary simple syrup*
Salt (if desired)


Combine Sombra, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and rosemary syrup in a shaker with ice, and shake vigorously. Salt the rim of a rocks glass. Strain cocktail over ice in rocks glass. Garnish with grapefruit wedge and rosemary sprig.

*Rosemary simple syrup: Combine equal parts sugar and water in a sauce pan. Add two sprigs of rosemary and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Allow to chill.


2 oz Tres Agaves Añejo
1 oz pineapple puree
1 oz tamarind syrup (tamarind paste mixed with equal parts refined sugar and water)
2 dash angostura bitters


Pour all ingredients into the shaker with ice shake and strain on the rocks and garnish with pineapple wedge.

By Alex Valencia of La Contenta in New York City


2 oz Avion Blanco
.5 oz Buenbicho Mezcal
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz agave nectar


Combine all ingredients over ice, shake, and strain over fresh ice in rocks glass that has been rimmed with salt.

By Percy Rodriguez of the Vine in New York City


1.5 oz Tres Agaves Tequila Reposado
5 oz Sangrita*
.5 oz lime juice
Balance with grapefruit soda (Squirt or Jarritos)


Pour tequila into serving glass, then add the sangrita mix and top off with grapefruit soda stir ingredients together and garnish with grapefruit wheel.

*Sangrita: Blend together a pinch of salt, hot sauce, juice from one orange, juice from four limes, juice from two grapefruit, a pinch of black pepper.

By Alex Valencia of La Contenta in New York City


Salt, pinch
1 oz lime juice
.75 oz Chai Syrup*
1.25 oz Banhez Mezcal
.75 oz Libelula Joven Tequila (or silver tequila of choice)
2 whole star anise for garnish


Add all measured ingredients. Fill shaker with ice. Shake very well. Fill rocks glass with ice and strain into glass. Garnish with anise to serve.

*Chai syrup: Combine 1 quart water, 1 Tbsp whole allspice berries, .5 Tbsp whole cloves, 8 whole star anise, 3 inches fresh ginger rough chopped, 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns, .5 Tbsp whole cardamom, 8 cinnamon sticks, and .5 Tbsp vanilla extract in a pot and boil. Then allow to simmer for 20 minutes, remove from heat, add 6 black tea bags and steep for 15 minutes. Add .75 quart sugar. Can refrigerate for up to 6 weeks.

By Gretchen Thomas of Bartaco restaurants


2 oz Santo Reposado
1 oz Hibiscus Tea
.5 oz Agave
.75 oz Lime Juice
.25 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves with Tender Stems


Brew Hibiscus tea and let cool. In a cocktail shaker with ice add tequila, hibiscus tea, agave, lime juice and fresh cilantro. Shake for 30 seconds. Double strain into a cocktail glass filled with ice.

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What Tequila Should You Buy? - Recipes

Philip Ward of Mayahuel demonstrates how to make a spicy paloma with jalapeño-infused tequila. Produced by Jessica Chou

Coming Up Next

Infuse your tequila with pineapples, peppers, and more.

We’ll admit that plenty of our first experiences with tequila involved some grimy bar, harsh tequila, shot glasses, and fervent sucking on limes. And while Cinco de Mayo may as well just be called Cinco de Drinko (and be an excellent excuse to down plenty of tequila shots), we’re going to try and start the day off in a classy way with some top-notch infused tequilas, mixed into margaritas, obviously.

We chatted with Rob Day, beverage director at Washington, D.C.’s El Centro, as well as with New York’s Philip Ward (of tequileria Mayahuel) about tips for infusing tequila. Here are some rules to live by:

Only Use 100 Percent Agave
None of that bottom-shelf stuff. "It’s the Mexican tradition to use 100 percent agave tequila," Rob Day, beverage director at Washington, D.C.’s El Centro says. "You get a certain type of flavor profile, and we want the flavor to be very pronounced. It’s more of a pure tequila taste, whereas if you don’t use 100 percent, there’s a burning sensation at the end."

Opt for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
For those who like sweets or fruitier drinks, try fruits like pineapple, watermelon, or strawberries. For a little kick, toss in jalapeños or serrano peppers, removing the seeds if you want a milder, vegetable taste and only using the seeds and membranes if you want a little heat (leaving them in for only 15 minutes, as Phil Ward at Mayahuel does). For other fruits and vegetables, Day removes the leaves or the rind, cuts them into small squares, and lets the produce sit in the tequila for two to three days to soak up the flavor.

Taste Constantly
If you’re doing a longer infusion, taste the tequila every day. "Typically an infusion takes three days, and I want to ensure that after that three-day mark it’s giving me that same consistency," Day says. But of course, with something like a spicy jalapeño tequila made with seeds, remove all the seeds after the first 15 minutes and check to make sure that tequila isn’t getting hotter. You don’t want to waste good tequila as hot sauce.

How Healthy Is Tequila?

Sadly, because agave is fermented in order to distill tequila, most of the healthful qualities are eliminated in the process. Even so, tequila experts and nutritionists do praise the spirit as being a "healthier" alcohol. "Tequila is one of the liquors I suggest to clients who like an occasional tipple but would rather not completely undo their overall wellness and nutrition efforts," says Persak.

Tequila has about 97 calories per jigger (aka shot) and no carbohydrates, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, as do other spirits such as vodka, rum, and whiskey. This gives it an edge over wine, beer, and hard ciders, which contain more calories, carbohydrates, and sugar per serving. (FTR, spiked seltzers have about the same number of calories as tequila per serving, but contain a few grams of carbs and sugar.) Tequila is also gluten-free, as are many distilled spirits — yes, even those that are distilled from grains. And, since it&aposs a clear spirit, tequila is generally lower in congeners (chemicals that result from the fermentation process and that can make hangovers worse) than darker liquors, according to the Mayo Clinic.

It&aposs worth noting that, when it comes to cocktails, the mixers are where extra calories and sugar can sneak in, so if you&aposre looking to keep your drink super healthy, opt for something such as sparkling water or a squeeze of fresh fruit juice, which are generally low in calories, sugar, and carbs, says Persak.

Different Types of Tequila & Additives

While all tequilas generally offer the same amount of calories and nutrients, there are different classes of tequila that dictate how it&aposs made and what&aposs inside.

Blanco tequila, sometimes called silver or plata, is the purest form of tequila it&aposs made with 100 percent blue weber agave with no additives and is bottled soon after distillation. Its tasting notes often include freshly cut agave (a scent that mimics green or unripe plants).

Gold tequila is often a mixto, meaning it&aposs not 100 percent agave, and in those cases is often a blanco tequila with flavor and color additives. When it is 100 percent agave (and thus not a mixto), it&aposs likely a blend of blanco and aged tequila, according to Experience Agave.

Aged tequila, labeled reposado, a༞jo, or extra a༞jo, are aged for at least three months, one year, or three years, respectively. Up to one percent of the total volume can be additives such as flavored syrups, glycerin, caramel, and oak extract, explains Szczech. "Additives are harder to detect in aged tequilas, and many of them mimic what barrel aging does," he says.

While that doesn&apost sound so great, it&aposs actually somewhat normal in the realm of alcohol. For reference, wine can have 50 different additives, per EU legislation, and more than 70 additives are regulated within the U.S., including acids, sulphur, and sugar, which are generally included as stabilizers and to preserve flavor, says Fodor. "Compared to that, tequila is a very modest drink in regard to additives," he says. (Related: Are the Sulfites In Wine Bad for You?)

So what do these additives do? They typically enhance flavor, whether making it sweeter (syrup), a more rounded mouth feel (glycerin), to make it seem as if it&aposs been aged longer than in reality (oak extract), or impart color (caramel), explains health coach and bartender Amie Ward. Additives can also be used to amplify fermentation rates, create consistent tasting profiles, and rectify undesirable characteristics or deficiencies in the final product, she adds.

While the real root of any hangover is the consumption of alcohol in general (you know the drill: Enjoy in moderation and have water between drinks), these additives can contribute to your crappy next-day feelings, explains tequila expert Carolyn Kissick, head of education and taste experience for SIP Tequila. For example, aged tequilas have oak extracts from sitting in barrels, which "adds flavor but also infuses the tequila with microscopic bits that can add to your headache," she says. And while oak can be a result of the natural barrel aging process, oak extract can also be included as an additive, says Szczech. "Part of what&aposs happening is extraction of those color, aroma, and flavor elements from the wood, which the addition of an extract is meant to mimic." The general takeaway here is that additives (i.e. oak extract) aren&apost inherently evil, but you should be aware that not all tequila bottles are filled with solely pure, 100 percent agave.

And on that note, let&aposs talk about tequila mixto. "If it doesn&apost say &apos100 percent agave tequila&apos on the label, then it is a mixto, and up to 49 percent of the alcohol in there was fermented from non-agave sugar," says Szczech. You might be thinking, "But how can that be true when tequila is supposed to be 100 percent agave?!" Here&aposs the thing: If the agave included is grown in the DOM, a mixto can still be referred to as tequila.

Manufacturers aren&apost required to disclose the ingredients within their mixto tequilas, says Ashley Rademacher, former bartender and founder of the women&aposs lifestyle blog, Swift Wellness. And "these days, that &aposother&apos sugar is likely to be high-fructose corn syrup," says Szczech. This is often done to keep up with demand. Because agave takes five to nine years to reach full maturity, substituting in another sugar can allow a manufacturer to produce more tequila at a quicker rate. And, that&aposs not ideal: Concentrated forms of fructose, such as high-fructose corn syrup, are linked to health concerns including fatty liver disease and abdominal adiposity (metabolic disease), says Persak. So if you&aposre looking for healthy tequila a mixto is not the way to go.

8 Things You Should Know About 1800 Tequila

1800 Tequila is a major player in the spirits world. Launched in 1975 by the Beckmann family, which also owns Jose Cuervo, 1800 Tequila has been imported to the United States since 2008 and distributed by Proximo Spirits in Jersey City, N.J.

1800 Tequila is one of the most awarded tequila brands, and at the 2021 New York International Spirits Awards Competition, 1800’s Silver, Reposado and Cristalino editions all took home the Silver Medal for the Best Agave/Tequila. The 1800 Añejo took home the Gold Medal for Best Agave/Tequila. Like all premium tequilas, this popular spirit is made with 100 percent blue weber agave and is bottled in Jalisco, Mexico.

Here are eight more things you should know about 1800 Tequila.

Drinks Essentials For People Who Love Tequila

1800 is iconic.

1800 is produced at La Rojeña Distillery with a NOM of 1122. It is the oldest active distillery in Tequila, Jalisco. Yes, very ironic. 1800 also shares that distillery with other tequila brands such as Jose Cuervo and Gran Centenario.

1800 honors its past.

Look, we all recognize 1800’s bottle at a first glance. You can’t miss it. But you might have missed the unique relationship associated with the bottle and its homeland’s heritage. The trapezoid-looking shape replicates the centuries-old Mayan stone pyramids housed in Mexico.

Then there’s the label: The 1800 logo showcases a crest that reads, “Trabajo, Passion, Honestidad.” This translates to “work, passion, honesty.” The crest signifies the brand’s traditional farming and distilling practices, honoring the jimadors that harvest agave at its full maturation, between 8 and 12 years old.

Silver is a hot commodity.

The classic 1800 Tequila Silver is made from a selection of unaged tequilas that are double-distilled for the final batch. That is a hot commodity these days, especially with the pendulum-like swing of agave shortage and surplus. Additionally, awareness among consumers of additives and other corner-cutting processes in mass-produced tequila is increasing.

1800 offers more than its basic Silver: Another edition is the 1800 Coconut Reserva. This tequila derives from the double-distilled original 1800 Silver Tequila with a coconut twist — a natural coconut flavor with a slightly sweet, medium-bodied tropical finish, according to the brand.

Looking for luxury? 1800 got you covered.

A new ultra-premium tequila has stepped onto the scene with 1800 Cristalino Tequila. Compared to the rest of 1800’s lineup, Cristalino is more expensive with a price tag of $65. With its crystallized bottle design, this clear añejo tequila is aged in both American and French oak barrels for 16 months, then in port wine barrels for an additional six months.

Additional aged tequilas include 1800 Añejo, aged in French oak barrels for a minimum of 14 months (the finished product showcases a flavor profile that includes toasted oak, vanilla, and butterscotch that is perfect for sipping) and 1800 Reposado Reserva, aged a minimum of six months in American and French oak barrels. This one highlights a spicy, caramel, smoky flavor profile that is meant to be served on the rocks or mixed in cocktails.

1800 partnerships are genius.

1800 Tequila was the official drink of choice at the 2018 Genius IQ BBQ. Genius is a popular digital music publication that provides annotations to song lyrics and breaking stories within the music industry.

The signature event that Genius has hosted since 2017 invited 1800 Tequila to serve drinks at its own VIP bar. This immensely popular event has served as host to celebrities and musical artists making appearances, such as Tierra Whack, 21 Savage, and Doja Cat.

1800 has a SoundCloud profile.

Yes, you read that right. Scene by 1800 is a sleek crossover between the drinks and entertainment industries. As part of its campaign, 1800 partners with popular artists to deliver personal stories and, of course, highlight 1800 products.

Scene by 1800 also releases celebrity-curated playlists that feature sounds that define the brand. All of these sounds are featured on SoundCloud. For those unfamiliar, SoundCloud is a groundbreaking platform that allows artists to upload and distribute music within a shared community.

1800 Tequila has playlists curated by rap artists such as Future and Pusha T, titled 1800 Seconds, as well as Sounds From the Scene, an 1800-curated playlist.

1800 has a unique relationship with sports.

In October 2020, 1800 Tequila became the official tequila of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. This is 1800’s first partnership with any professional football team. This joint venture will offer 1800 LA Rita, an at-home specialty cocktail that is meant to be served salted and on the rocks.

Yes, 1800 is Ready-to-Drink.

In 2006, 1800 released its first ready-to-drink (RTD) bottled cocktail. 1800 Ultimate Margarita is the brand’s version of an RTD. These on-the-go pre-mixed drinks are made with real tequila and come in many flavors including: Pineapple, Raspberry, Original, Watermelon, Jalapeño Lime, and Peach. Oh, and the price is extremely affordable compared to the rest of 1800’s lineup, with prices under $20 per 750-milliliter bottle.

What Is Gold Tequila?

Despite its color, gold tequila is rarely aged. In fact, you might call gold tequila an impostor, a marketing gimmick even. In many cases, gold tequila is the result of caramel coloring added to agave juices before fermentation to give the spirit a more “refined” look. Aged tequilas, which are deepers shades of amber and brown, are often costly because of the amount of time they require the metallic hue of gold tequila could imply to the lay purchaser this product is a better option. But if the bottle does not say 100% agave, check the ingredients. You’ll likely see caramel coloring and sugar.

That being said, you can buy 100% agave gold tequila. Two different techniques can render a solidly gold spirit: The first, producers can mix cheaper blanco or silver tequila with a more aged tequila, such as reposado, to get the golden hue. Second, they can age the tequila (up to 60 days) in barrels to let the liquor absorb some color before bottling.

Gold tequila is often used for shots. The smoother, slightly sweet taste (a result of additives or brief aging) is less harsh than fresh tequila. Because of the hint of sweetness, many bartenders will use gold tequila in margaritas to complement the mixed drink’s fruity flavors.

How is Tequila Made?

The beverage is made from the fruits of the agave plant, which grows in tropical climates and has thick, long leaves. In Mexico, agave is considered as the relative of the cactus because of its thorny leaves.

Back in the past, wild agave was used during the production process, but nowadays, only one variety of the plant is cultivated by a lot of Mexican farmers – the blue agave. Only the “piña,” the fruit’s heart, which resembles a huge pineapple, is used for commercial purposes. Unprocessed agave can weigh up to 50 kilograms. A single plant can yield up to 8 liters of pure tequila. Click to learn more about the production process. These are fascinating figures for us, but hard work for the Mexicans.

A tiny sprout of blue agave can take a long time to mature into a tasty cocktail. It takes 7-12 years after planting for the agave to be used for production. Only then does the fruit accumulate the necessary amount of aromatic juice. For the production, yeast, water, and sometimes sugar is used.

Best Cristalino Tequila for Margaritas

Maestro Dobel Diamante

Aged in oak then stripped of color using a special filtration process, this cristalino offers the best of both worlds. It lands on the palate with luxurious weight and depth, but its bold flavor profile maintains the spicy soul of agave. All of which leads to a heady and decadent Marg, perfect for whenever you want to be a little extra. Average price: $43.

Watch the video: TITANIUM TEQUILA Reposado


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