Life

Bartenders Name The One Tequila They Could Drink Forever

There’s no “bad” season for tequila, even in December as the holidays approach. We have no trouble enjoying a well-made, warming blanco (un-aged) tequila during the colder months — it’s such a versatile mixer. But winter is an even more ideal season for a bottle of reposado (aged up to a year), an añejo (aged up to three years), or even the deep, oaky extra añejo (aged three years or more).

To find the best bottles of tequila on the market — regardless of the time of year you’re doing the sipping — we once again turned to the pros who spend their time mixing and pouring drinks behind the bar. We asked a handful of well-known bartenders to tell us the one tequila they’d drink forever if they had to pick one and stick with it for the rest of their days.

Keep scrolling to check out all of their selections.

Fortaleza Reposado

Fortaleza Reposado
Fortaleza

John Dal Canton, assistant general manager and beverage director at La Stella Cucina Verace in Dallas

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $60

Why This Tequila?

Fortaleza distills and ages their tequilas according to tradition. Each year different terroirs are expressed and distilled, making each batch distinct from the last. If I could only drink one tequila for the rest of my life, choosing this one would mean I could still enjoy a different tequila every year.

Calle 23 Reposado

Calle 23 Reposado
Calle 23

Lauren Parton, general manager of Viceroy in Chicago

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $30

Why This Tequila?

Calle 23 Reposado is made and owned by a woman who came to distilling tequila via cognac. The reposado has roasted vegetable qualities alongside a sweetness reminiscent of figs, most likely from the aging in ex-bourbon barrels.

It’s an interesting tequila that’s easy to drink and would be an easy one to drink for the rest of my life.

Cimarron Blanco

Cimarron Blanco
Cimarron

Nicholas Karel, director of bars, lounges, and beverages at Windsor Court in New Orleans

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $20

Why This Tequila?

Cimarron Blanco is the most delicious 100 percent agave tequila for its price point I’ve found. Clean and flavorful, it has notes of green agave, pepper, and a slight fruitiness. It goes down well in a shot or a sip and is perfect for cocktails.

Avion Reserva 44

Avion Reserva 44
Avion

Christopher Rodriguez, lead bartender at Lucy Restaurant & Bar in Yountville, California

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $130

Why This Tequila?

I have to choose Avión Reserva 44 because it was the first tequila I enjoyed sipping. Because of this, it would be the one tequila I would choose to drink for the rest of my life. To me, the oaky añejo has whiskey-like notes but the agave shines through and finishes with vanilla notes.

ArteNOM Seleccion de 1146 Añejo

ArteNOM Seleccion de 1146 Añejo
ArteNom

Slava Borisov, mixologist at Adorn Bar & Restaurant in the Four Seasons in Chicago

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $100

Why This Tequila?

Only one?! When it comes to tequila it is hard to go wrong and with so many high-quality producers, it can be very hard to narrow it down. If I had to choose one tequila right now, I would pick ArteNOM Seleccion de 1146 Anejo. The aging regimen is what sets this tequila apart from the rest. The total aging is almost three years split between used Cabernet Franc, French oak barrels, and Canadian and Tennessee whiskey barrels.

All of this leads to an extremely complex tequila that you can enjoy sipping for the rest of your life.

Clase Azul Reposado

Clase Azul Reposado
Clase Azul

Stephen Lasaten, food and beverage manager at The Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $160

Why This Tequila?

I have to go with Clase Azul Reposado. The luxurious-looking vessel is truly backed by its richness on the palate with vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch notes coming through. I can enjoy this by sipping it neat or on the rocks. It can also be mixed with club soda and served on the rocks with a squeeze of lime and the flavors will still come through.

Also, the silver bell top on the bottle can be rung every time you pour yourself a glass, making every occasion with it absolutely special.

Cincoro Reposado

Cincoro Reposado
Cincoro

Anthony Aviles, director of operations at The Ritz-Carlton Members Beach Club in Sarasota, Florida

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $90

Why This Tequila?

My “desert island” tequila would have to be Cincoro Reposado. It’s a bit pricier at around $90 per bottle, but it has all of the weight and complexities of more expensive tequilas. The bottle is a beautiful and tall statement piece on the back bar with the spirit itself showing off a rich, golden, reposado color that stands out. It is velvety on the palate with a slight smokiness that is complemented by its sweet, tropical fruit and quietly vegetal core.

I wouldn’t even bother mixing it with anything — just strand me on an island with an endless supply and life will work itself out nicely on its own.

Cascahuin Extra Añejo

Cascahuin Extra Añejo
Cascahuin

Steven Minor, corporate beverage director at 1 Hotels in Los Angeles

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $115

Why This Tequila?

Cascahuin Extra Anejo is a masterpiece by Salvador Rosales. Cascahuin doesn’t cut any corners from Tahona extraction to brick oven cooking (vs autoclave and diffusers, you know who you are), fourth-generation family distillers, etc. I had the pleasure of being introduced to this while taking a course in Tequila Sensory Evaluation in Guadalajara. I was part of a group of high-level distillers, scientists, and tequila industry folk from Guadalajara that really knew their stuff. I decided to ask them all what their favorite tequila was to drink. The universal response: Tequila Cascahuin.

Naturally, the first thing I did that night was to try some and I wasn’t disappointed. I do tend to have a sweet tooth and err towards juice that has been adulterated (once again, you know who you are). But this is a balanced harmony of cooked agave, orange peel, dried fruits, caramel, vanilla, cherry, and butter. I like to sip my aged tequila over a large-format ice cube. Give it a shot (no pun intended).

Casamigos Blanco

Casamigos Blanco
Casamigos

Emily Lawson, bartender and founder of Pink House Alchemy in Fayetteville, Arkansas

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $50

Why This Tequila?

Casamigos Blanco is the perfect addition to any tequila-based cocktail or drink, and that’s what makes it my pick. It’s smooth and light with the perfect smoky finish, in addition to the pronounced taste of agave, banana, and vanilla. As a shot, it’s smooth with minimal brashness or burn. In a margarita, it provides the perfect amount of sweetness. It’s our favorite addition to our signature pineapple rosemary shrub margarita.

El Tequileno Reposado Rare

El Tequileno Reposado Rare
El Tequileno

Pascal Pinalt, director of restaurants and bars at The Confidante in Miami

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $229

Why This Tequila?

My pick would be El Tequileno Reposado Rare, which is the world’s first reposado rare. Aged for six years in an American oak barrel, it is made with 100 percent Blue Agave from Jalisco. The smell reminds me of a pie baked in the oven. I get vanilla, sweet agave, and some spice. There’s a very nice balance of agave, sweet citrus, a little oak, and a slowly increasing and fading heat through the finish. This is a nice sipper.

Casa Noble Reposado

Casa Noble Reposado
Casa Noble

Elvyra Cucovic, beverage manager at Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel’s The Social Club in Miami

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $45

Why This Tequila?

Casa Noble Reposado is the one tequila I could drink for the rest of my life. It’s a wonderful slow sipper. It’s mellow at first but has a great finish. You get notes of citrus, vanilla, and spices that linger for quite a while.

Don Julio 1942

Don Julio 1942
Don Juliio

Christopher Devern, lead bartender of Red Owl Tavern in Philadelphia

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $180

Why This Tequila?

Don Julio 1942 is more than just the bottle. When I first joined the bar scene, there weren’t many premium spirits I had gotten around to trying. I was a novice, and when invited to a Don Julio tasting it changed my perception of tequila. We tasted the blanco, reposado, anejo, 70 anejo, and 1942. From that point to now, there have been so many premium tequilas hitting the market. Brands like Cincoro, Clase Azul, Teremana, and of course Casamigos. I find many qualities I like in all of these tequilas, and they all have a place and time. But, 1942 is a celebration bottle that I pour during special times with close friends and family.

If I’m going to drink one tequila for the rest of my life, it better taste celebration-worthy, and this tequila absolutely does.

Avion Silver

Avion Silver
Avion

Dan Tholen, lead bartender at Mas Amor Cantina in Hickory, North Carolina

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

Why This Tequila?

Hands down, I would pick Avion Silver Tequila. It’s sharp and smooth at the same time, and its peppery notes compliment the flavors of blue agave that I love. It’s versatile and perfect to use in margaritas of any flavor.

Tequila Ocho Plata

Tequila Ocho Plata
Tequila Ocho

Nick Baitzel, beverage director of restaurant group Sojourn Philly in Philadelphia

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $50

Why This Tequila?

For me, it’s Tequila Ocho. I love the fact that they produce their tequila in vintages. As someone whose background is mostly in the wine industry, this speaks to me. I enjoy both the plata and reposado but having to choose one I would pick the reposado. The smoky, slightly oaky notes really pair well with the herbal flavors in the tequila, making it a perfect sipping tequila.

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