National Tequila Day is coming up on Saturday, July 24 and I personally have never been more excited for a themed day. Tequila is hands down my favorite spirit, and not just because of that college rumor that it’s the only alcohol that isn’t a depressant (science begs to differ on that one).
Tequila is an art form. The process of distilling alcohol from the gorgeous agave plant is a meticulous and tedious one. From seed to harvest, the cultivation of the massive agave is a labor that is largely manual, relying on the care of jimadores. A good harvest is the work of very skilled hands with a wealth of generational and/or studied knowledge.
Tequila types and brands are appellation-based. Mexican law and tradition draw strict boundaries on where tequila can be produced. Over 40 countries recognize Mexico as tequila’s designation of origin, where the spirit is primarily produced in Jalisco, though sometimes produced in the states of Nayarit, Michoacán, Tamaulipas, and Guanajuato.
The traditional tequila we all know and love is made only from the blue agave plant. Its smokey sibling Mezcal comes from very large and thick agave plants that take seven to 15 years to mature. Its distinct flavor comes from the underground roasting process.
With the amount of skill, time, and work that goes into making both tequila and mezcal, it’s no wonder there is an entire day dedicated to the drink. From recipes and straight shots to tidy canned margaritas, here is our list of some top tequila brands to try:
This is one nice bottle of tequila. Ever since my husband was gifted this glamorous bottle by a coworker, it’s become our go-to buy for special occasions. And what better occasion than National Tequila Day to splurge on one of the best? You deserve it! An ultra-premium Añejo, each bottle is aged at least two and a half years in American white oak barrels. The result is divine, with a roasted agave forward flavor and spiced undertones.
Tanteo Tequila is great for many reasons, including the fact that it’s the only distillery to be owned by its co-op agave farmers. This ensures these hard-working producers receive fair wages, good working conditions, and enjoy the multiplied profits of shared ownership. It’s a delicious smooth tequila, available in Blanco, Jalapeño, Chipotle, and Habanero expressions. Our household is a big fan of the Chipotle, as it makes one mean cocktail.
A tequila seltzer? A tequila seltzer! I personally am relieved to finally have a drink like this on the market. Agave-based and made with just three clean ingredients – 100% blue agave tequila (from the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico), sparkling water and organic juice – it’s the answer to the malt seltzer fatigue you may be feeling with me right now. Only 100-110 calories per can, this little miracle drink is completely free of commonly used fake sugars, natural flavorings, essences, and corn syrup. Find them in four flavors – Zesty Lime, Spicy Ginger, Sharp Grapefruit, and Tropical Mango.
Not only is Volley clean for your body, but it’s clean for the Earth as well. Volley currently hosts beach cleanups and outdoor educational events around the country in partnership with natural world-protecting non-profit, Leave No Trace.
They can be enjoyed alone or in a cocktail, like this recipe here:
Ingredients: ½ can Spicy Ginger Volley, 1 oz strawberry honey simple syrup, ½ lemon, 1 oz of Prosecco, Strawberry slice and lemon wheel garnish
Directions: Pour ½ can of Spicy Ginger Volley into a glass. Stir in 1 oz strawberry honey simple syrup and a squeeze of a ½ lemon. Top with a float of Prosecco and garnish with a strawberry slice and lemon wheel.
Named for Jose Doroteo Arango, popularly known as Pancho Villa, in honor of his legacy of defending his people in the Mexican Revolution, Los Arango’s line of tequila offerings include Blanco, Reposado and Ańejo. Made from 100% Blue Weber Agave, the agave is fired in clay ovens and fermented with a specialty yeast strain. After its double distilled, the final product is bottled in blown glass and hand finished with premium leather, metal, and wood accents to make one beautiful bottle. It’s worth noting that their Blanco won a Double Gold Medal at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Their gorgeous blue glass bottle of Tequila Reposado is my spirit of choice, with a traditional Reposado taste that’s smooth and warming.
I’m a big, big fan of this multi-award-winning tequila. Made with just three ingredients – organically-farmed, mature blue agave, volcanic filtered well water and native yeast from their fruit trees on the Tepozan estate – this clean, farm to glass spirit is available in the traditional expressions: Blanco, Reposado and Ańejo. They recently released in the U.S., so run, don’t walk, to grab yourself a bottle. Entirely additive-free, their Blanco is my bottle of choice. Smelling of citrus, jalapeño and honeysuckle, it’s as soft and electric as you’d expect.
Made in partnership with a Durango distillery, Cutwater’s 100% wild Cenizo Agave-made Mezcal offers notes of green pepper with a finish of sweet cooked agave and subtle smoke. Another amazing cocktail base, it’s a classic Mezcal that delivers a big, bold taste. Also worth noting is that for every wild Cenizo Agave harvested for production, Cutwater plants five Cenizo Hijuelos (baby agave) in its place.
Flecha Azul is a labor of love, conceptualized by Mexican-American PGA golfer Abraham Ancer and Mexican entrepreneur Aron Marquez. Hand-crafted in the state of Jalisco, this tequila is sourced from fully-matured 100% estate-grown Blue Weber Agave. Once harvested, the spirit is produced by a multi-generational, family-owned and operated distillery that has been in practice since 1840. Flecha Azul consists of five expressions of top-shelf tequila: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, Añejo Cristalino, and Extra Añejo.
I’m a fan of their Blanco tequila. It goes down smooth all by itself, and acts as the perfect base to cocktails, with a clean aftertaste.
This is an approachable tequila that is able to be reasonably priced without losing any flavor or quality. A bottle we almost always have on hand, you can find it just about anywhere (I get ours at Costco, it’s a killer deal and a statement piece of a bottle).
Corralejo Tequila is one of the few tequilas produced in Guanajuato, Mexico, using unique production methods to help bring out the flavor of the agave. The resulting flavor is full-bodied and extremely satisfying. Types include Corralejo Silver, Corralejo Reposado, Corralejo Añejo and Corralejo 1821 Extra Añejo.
Santo Tequila is the perfect base to your favorite summer cocktails. Founded by Sammy Hagar and Guy Fieri, this spirit was made with boozy brunch in mind. It’s hard to pin down a favorite, but if pressed I’d have to choose their Charred Passion Fruit & Jalapeño Margarita, made with their signature Santo Mezquila (a blend of tequila and mezcal). It’s involved, but oh-so-worth-it:
Ingredients: 2 oz Santo Mezquila, 1 oz Fresh Passion Fruit Juice, ¾ oz Charred Jalapeño Simple Syrup*, ½ oz Cointreau, ¾ oz Lime Juice, Salt, Ice
Garnish: Charred Jalapeño, Lime Wheel
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice add Mezquila, passion fruit juice, syrup, cointreau, and lime juice. Shake for 30 seconds. Rim glass with salt. Strain into glass filled with ice. Garnish.
To make* Charred Jalapeño Simple Syrup: 2 Jalapeño Peppers, 1 Cup Sugar, 1 Cup Water
Instructions: Heat a dry cast iron on medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, place the jalapeños in the cast iron. Rotate occasionally to char and blister on all sides. Let cool and cut into slices. Add sugar, water, and jalapeño slices to a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring water to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 15-20 minutes.
An award-winning, USDA certified organic tequila range, Solento Organic Tequila is a small-batch production made from a single estate in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Founded in 2019 by filmmaker and surfer, Taylor Steele, Solento is great in a cocktail but also divine when sipped solo. Each expression – Blanco, Reposado and Añejo – is an artistic embodiment of sunshine (the brand name itself meaning “slow sun” in Spanish), which makes sense as it’s crafted from certified organic agave that has been lapping up the Mexican sun for seven years.
Try the Slow Sun Martini for a fun twist on a class cocktail: Best served shaken not stirred, combine 3 oz Solento Reposado, ¼ oz honey, a dash of grapefruit bitters and a few ice cubes into your nearest cocktail shaker. Shake accordingly, then strain into a martini glass and garnish with a grapefruit twist to serve up Sex In The City vibes.
With prepared cocktails you never really know what you’re going to get. I personally am a huge fan of the trend, but I know that can be a bit of a controversial opinion in some spirit enthusiast circles. No matter your opinion, I have to strongly suggest that you give Cayman Jack’s line of premium prepared cocktails a try. You have two choices: glass bottle or can. I’ve tried both and like both; though the canned version is more beach-friendly. Both their Paloma and Margarita are incredibly refreshing and dare I say, surprising. Not too sweet, not at all chemical, they taste like a true cocktail. Pack a few in your beach bag and thank me later!
Speaking of canned cocktails, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Ranch Rider Spirits in this list. Their low-calorie, low sugar tequila-based premium seltzers have two tequila options that I love: Ranch Water and Tequila Paloma.
Ranch Water is a Texas classic, featuring sparkling water, fresh-squeezed lime and premium reposado tequila from Jalisco, Mexico. The Tequila Paloma is a take on Mexico’s most popular cocktail, containing fresh grapefruit and lime, sparkling water and a splash of reposado Jalisco tequila.
Martini & Rossi Fiero may be an interesting choice for a tequila list, but truth be told this vermouth is the missing ingredient to a perfect tequila cocktail. With bold notes of citrus, it’s a no-brainer inclusion in this Italian take on the margarita:
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and pour into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with lime wedge and enjoy!
You’ve tried the margarita, but what about margarita freeze pops? Rancho La Gloria’s Frozen Margarita Poptail is a delight, and with these recent heat waves, a must-have. Made with 100% Blue Weber Agave, real lime juice and premium ingredients, each flavor – lime, strawberry and mango – contain 6% ABV each. You can purchase a 12-pack at retailers like Target and even your local 7-Eleven.
Nothing beats being served a margarita. From noshing on chips and salsa while you wait to being responsible for 0% of the prep and clean up, sitting down for a great meal and (many) margs invites a joyful feeling that just can’t be replicated. El Torito knows margaritas, especially big margaritas. If you love flavored drinks (who doesn’t?!), check out their new Watermelon Cadillac Margarita. The drinkable embodiment of summer, it’s made with Lunazul Reposado, fresh watermelon purée, triple sec, sweet and sour and Cointreau Noir.
Fresh Victor isn’t a spirit, instead, they are everything else you need to make the perfect cocktail. I’m a big fan of these cold-pressed juice mixers, they’re even delicious by themselves! Made without preservatives, they make creating fresh craft cocktails at home a breeze. Here are some recipes to get you started:
Pom Paloma by H. Joseph Ehrmann, Chief Mixology Officer (Fresh Victor) & Owner (Elixir, San Francisco)
In a tall glass full of ice, add all ingredients, stir gently, garnish and serve
The addition of cactus pear and pomegranate flavors to the classic Paloma provides complementary juiciness to the grapefruit that is exceptional. A drier style of grapefruit soda or a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water/seltzer will provide the best balance.
Pica Piña Collins by H. Joseph Ehrmann, Chief Mixology Officer (Fresh Victor) & Owner (Elixir, San Francisco)
Canned cocktails are just the best. When you’re on the go or just ready to enjoy a drink after a long day, they provide the instant satisfaction you need in one tidy container. Cocktail Squad is on a mission to elevate the canned cocktail category by crafting the same complex drinks you’d find at your favorite bar. Grab a can or two of their 10% ABV Margarita and get ready to relax! We love how light and complex they taste, with no excess sugar and an emphasis on crisp, bright flavors.
The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley is another mixer producer that would be the perfect partner to your tequila of choice this Tequila Day. Manufactured in Napa Valley, The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley offers an array of fruit purees, specialities and blends that will take your cocktail game to the next level. Try the Mango Passion Margarita by Manny Hinojosa:
1 1/2 oz. Tequila Cazadores Blanco
1 oz. The Perfect Purée Mango Passion Fruit blend, thawed
1 oz. lime juice
1 1/2 oz. simple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain and serve on the rocks with a Mexican chili salt rim and a lemon slice.