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Bartenders Shout Out Their Favorite Agave-Forward Tequilas For The Heat Of Summer

July is a great month for tequila. Actually, all months are great for tequila. July just happens to be particularly great for the bright, vegetal, sweet flavors of agave most present in blancos and reposados (and the cocktails made with those expressions, like palomas and margaritas).

Since we’re always on the lookout for new bottles to try this month, we reached out to some pros to help in our endeavor. Fourteen bartenders told us their picks for the best tequilas for fans of roasted agave flavor notes. Check out all of their responses below and click on the prices if you want to try them as the Dog Days hit hard.

Fortaleza Reposado

Fortaleza

Rob Krueger, head bartender of JF restaurants in New York City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $60

Why This Tequila?

My favorite agave-forward tequila has got to be Fortaleza Reposado. The roasted agave notes are balanced perfectly with the right amount of oak. It’s smooth but textured, with fruit, earth, and delicate spice.

They distill only to 46 percent ABV, which means a more robust agave flavor makes it through to the barrel and bottle.

Tequila 512 Blanco

Tequila 512

Hayden Miller, head bartender of Bodega Taqueria y Tequila in Miami

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $30

Why This Tequila?

Tequila 512 Blanco is a great tequila with a nice backbone of fresh agave flavor all pulled together by volcanic spring water to provide a crisp experience. Bottoms up.

Clase Azul Plata

Clase Azul

Evan Hosaka, lead bartender at Electra Cocktail Club in Las Vegas

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $115

Why This Tequila?

For the summer, I immediately think of Clase Azul. The plata is great for daytime on the rocks while the aged varieties are all very enjoyable neat. Once the sun goes down and temperatures cool off a bit, I could easily switch to the reposado, añejo, or ultra añejo.

Herradura Silver

Herradura

Chandra Richter, beverage development and chief mixologist at Drinkworks

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $30

Why This Tequila?

If you are looking for fresh summer tequila that features sweet, fruity agave notes, then I would say the best option is Herradura Silver. I love the agave-forward profile and the nice smoky counter-balance. I think it’s a great tequila to sip on its own or to use in summer cocktails.

Tres Agave Blanco

Tres Agave

Randi Densford, beverage director of Barn8 Farm Restaurant & Bourbon Bar in Goshen, Kentucky

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $30

Why This Tequila?

Tres Agave Blanco is my tequila of choice for the summer. This tequila is organic and made from 100 percent agave. The aromas have notes of bright citrus and pear. It has a smooth finish that can be sipped neat or enjoyed in a margarita.

Espolon Blanco

Espolon

Darron Foy, bar manager at The Flatiron Room in New York City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $25

Why This Tequila?

I generally keep a bottle of Espolon Blanco in my bar at all times. I was never a tequila fan until moving to New York, but a number of good friends have shown me the light (with still a lot to learn). I just find this tequila hits all the right buttons for me. The blue agave notes are as clear as day. It combines tropical fruit with hints of lemon and pepper.

Mi Campo Reposado

Mi Campo

Jeremy Williams, mixologist at MDRD at the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, Michigan

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $25

Why This Tequila?

Currently, I’ve been into the Mi Campo line of tequila. Their reposado is fantastic for the price, with wonderful notes of fresh agave that are rounded out with delightful flavors you would expect from time in ex-wine casks.

Arette Silver

Arette

Robert Kidd, head bartender at Le Cavalier in Wilmington, Delaware

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $25

Why This Tequila?

Arette Silver Tequila is a delicious, sweet expression of agave that I would stand by when it comes to great blanco tequila. A lot of my guests are very pleasantly surprised when they taste this tequila. It has hints of cooked agave, earthiness, and some nice herbal and floral notes. It is 100 percent agave on stainless still tanks with an open-air fermentation. The price point really can’t be beaten either. It is great in a margarita or just served with some ice and lime.

Cimarron Blanco

Cimarron

Jacob Mata, bar manager at Garden & Grain in Pensacola, Florida

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $30

Why This Tequila?

Tequila has to be my favorite spirit. This makes it hard to narrow it down to just one. My go-to tequila this summer has been Cimarron Blanco. Cimarron is an excellent highland tequila that boasts bright flavors of lavender, lemon balm, melon rind, and vanilla. This tequila is a go-to for any tequila cocktail. A Cimarron paloma goes down like a breeze.

Fortaleza Still Strength

Fortaleza

Liam Odien, beverage director at Playa Provisions in Playa Del Rey, California

ABV: 46%

Average Price: $65

Why This Tequila?

I tend to lean towards higher proof spirits because I like when a spirit has enough backbone to stand up to whatever I’m eating or drinking it with, and because I’m a glutton for pain. Fortaleza Still Strength is nice and vegetal, and the agave itself shines through nicely. I love it in a tequila tonic, done Spanish-style with different aromatics and botanicals in the glass. It’s delicious, easy to drink, and extremely customizable. A little bit of basil, some orange zest, or a tiny bit of pineapple make the drink pop and add depth alongside layers of aroma.

Tromba Reposado

Tromba

Ezra Patteck, beverage consultant at A Little Old Fashioned Cocktail Co. in New York City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

Why This Tequila?

The notes you get from the barrel in the reposado (vanilla, black pepper) work really nicely with sweet ripe summer fruit, and nothing is more refreshing than watermelon on a hot summer day. For a real summer hit, try Tromba Reposado, add a touch of lime, some fresh mint, and a sweetener of your choice (agave, honey, or simple syrup). To make this drink extra special, toss it in a blender with some ice, and you have yourself a delicious frozen libation.

El Tesoro Blanco

El Tesoro

Ryan Anderson, complex director of beverage at Ace Hotel in New Orleans

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $45

Why This Tequila?

Tequila El Tesoro is my favorite all-around blanco tequila. They produce tequila the old way. They don’t just grind up the agave but rather roast it and crush it with giant stone wheels. The roasting process coaxes out a lovely, sweeter expression of agave to make any cocktail naturally fresh.

Tequila Ocho Plata

Tequila Ocho

Matt Nicholas, bar manager for The Kennedy Bar in Pensacola, Florida

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $49

Why This Tequila?

There are so many great tequila brands on the market today, but my personal choice for this summer is Tequila Ocho Plata. Made in the highlands of Jalisco, Tequila Ocho uses the finest agave, copper stills, and open-air fermentation to produce a bright, refreshing tequila with notes of citrus, white pepper, and mint.

Teremana Blanco

Teremana

Lynnette Marrero, bar director at Llama Inn in New York City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $30

Why This Tequila?

Teremana Blanco for its wonderful herbal, agave-forward notes. The agave really shines through and is complimented with some fragrant citrusy and earthy notes, vanilla, and a hint of aromatic peppery spice. It’s delicious neat or on the rocks and works so well in bright, clean, and citrus-forward cocktails. Both Teremana’s Blanco and its Reposado expressions are exceptionally clean and versatile — I use them in many different cocktails and no matter what the complexity, their dominant profiles still shine through.


As a Drizly affiliate, Uproxx may receive a commission pursuant to certain items on this list.

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