Life

These Tequilas Will Turn A Good Margarita Into A Great One

There are a lot of ways to make a margarita bad. You could use margarita mix or lemonade instead of orange liqueur. You could use a sweet and sour mix over fresh lime juice. You could pack it with ice and blend it.

…Okay, there’s a time and place for frozen margaritas, I guess. I’ll give you that. But my bigger point is that any and all of these techniques will speed up the process of making a margarita, but the result will be a mere echo of the real thing. It’ll likely be an overly sugary mess that lacks all of the depth and nuance of a true margarita, which isn’t even particularly complicated to make in the first place.

If you want a good cocktail, don’t use shortcuts. That’s the real thesis statement here. Especially when it comes to the ingredients, including the actual alcohol itself. But making a great margarita isn’t as simple as blindly reaching for the most expensive tequila you have (the pricy stuff is better for sipping anyway). You want to find flavors in the tequila that’ll mingle and transform the other ingredients. Most often, those will be blancos (or platas) or cristalinos, which highlight the vegetal nature of agave.

Today, we’re going to shout out some of our favorite bottles that will instantly elevate the quality of your margarita. Hopefully, these tequilas with help to ensure you and your friends are drinking the best homemade margaritas of your lives the second you feel comfortable gathering again. For the sake of consistency, we’ve used this recipe by our own master of drinks, Zach Johnston:

CLASSIC MARGARITA RECIPE

Zach Johnston
  • 2-oz. tequila (plus a splash from the bottle)
  • 1-oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1-oz. orange liqueur (Cointreau is the standard and since we’re aiming for a great margarita, I’m going to suggest that.)
  • Pinch of salt (about the size of a lentil between your fingers. If you’d rather salt the rim, go for it but that’s not necessary.)
  • Lime wheel
  • Ice

If you need to learn how to make a margarita, be sure to check that article here. Now, onto the bottles! Click the prices if you feel like ordering one or two for yourself!

Hiatus Blanco

Hiatus

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $49

The Tequila:

This award-winning tequila is made using a mix of traditional methods and modern technology and is produced by master distiller Luis Trejo Rodríguez at the famed La Cofradía distillery. La Cofradía sits on the edge of an extinct volcano and utilizes that porous foundation as a natural filter for the spring water used to create this ground to glass tequila from Jalisco’s Tequila Valley.

Tasting Notes:

Hiatus greets you with roasted agave and lemongrass on the nose, making way for a clean expression that leans on subtle notes of tropical fruit, citrus, and fresh agave, with a smooth mouthfeel that leaves the palate in an elegant manner.

Why We Love It In A Margarita:

This expression’s clean flavor profile lets the fresh lime juice in your margarita shine, with its earthy citrus and tropical notes helping to ground your orange liqueur of choice, adding a bit of grit to the sweetness. The end result is a smooth mouthfeel that presents bright and agave forward, with a depth of flavor that elevates the base ingredients.

El Tesoro Blanco

El Tesoro

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $47.10

The Tequila:

El Tesoro’s Blanco tequila has been awarded the Gold Medal at the International Spirits Challenge and has also pulled a stunning 91 points at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. We’re here to confirm that this tequila is every bit worthy of the hype. Made using blue weber agave grown on the Camarena estate in the highlands of Jalisco, El Tesoro’s Blanco is bottled immediately after distillation, which helps to capture some subtle floral notes and the brightness of the agave.

Tasting Notes:

Fresh agave and warm honey on the nose that gives way to a very vegetal tequila, balanced with some floral sweetness, white pepper, and the slightest hint of mint on the backend.

Why We Love It In A Margarita:

Agave forward, this expression’s biting pepper and green and grassy notes result in a highly aromatic margarita with a bouquet of smells that match its complex but direct flavor.

Don Ramon Platinium Cristalino Reposado

Casa Don Ramon

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $44

The Tequila:

The annoyingly named Casa Don Ramon Platinium — no that’s not a typo! — features cristalino versions of Casa Don Ramon’s blanco, reposado, and anejo expressions. Of the trio, the reposado is of another class entirely. Aged in American and French Oak barrels for four months, the filtration process used on this expression doesn’t completely remove all of the colors, giving this expression a pleasing light golden hay color that looks especially appetizing in your margarita.

Tasting Notes:

Robust tones of cooked agave greet you on the nose, making way for warm caramel and butterscotch notes on the palate that settles into a barely-there cinnamon and chocolate finish. Remarkably smooth and drinkable, with almost none of the bite you’d expect from a slightly aged reposado.

Why We Love It In A Margarita:

Aside from the warm and pleasing tone, it’ll color your margarita in a muted and appetizing way. Casa Don Ramon’s Cristalino Reposado supplies rich burnt dessert notes that shift between chocolate and maple — adding nuance to your otherwise bright and tropical margarita. That’s a depth of flavor that the blancos on this list can’t quite match.

Solento Organic Tequila Blanco

Solento

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $62.99

The Tequila:

This organic tequila is harvested in small batches from seven-year-old weber agave grown from a single estate in Amatitán Jalisco. The agave is then cooked for two full days in stone ovens before being pressed, and fermented in stainless steel tanks, and twice distilled.

Tasting Notes:

Incredibly pure, with notes of cooked agave and vanilla on the nose with a citrus-forward flavor and highly vegetal and natural aftertaste. You get a little burn of the alcohol here, but it’s unnoticeable in a margarita.

Why We Love It In A Margarita:

Incredibly pure and agave-focused, this tastes like what a margarita should taste like. Floral hints of jasmine and noticeable sweetness from the agave bring out the subtleties of the orange liqueur, providing a citrus finish that underscores the zest of lime oil and the tartness of the juice.

We know we’re working with a base recipe here, but this begs for a floated shot of Grand Mariner.

Espolon Reposado

Espolon

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $26.99

The Tequila:

Espolon’s Reposado expression is crafted using the brand’s Blanco tequila made from 100% Blue Weber Agave, which is then rested in lightly charred New American oak barrels, creating a deep and complex character that is much louder and more pronounced than the aforementioned Casa Don Ramon Cristalino Reposado.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, you’re gently greeted with heavy hits of oak and cooked agave with a slight caramel candy sweetness. Notes of vanilla and spice awaken the palate, with a pronounced lingering spiced finish that continues to dance on the tongue between sips, pulling you in for more.

Why We Love It In A Margarita:

For the most part, we’ve kept this list to blanco expressions, as their bright agave-forward qualities lend themselves nicely to our simple margarita recipe, but if you’re looking for a deep and complex margarita with an appetizing dusty brown presentation, Espolon has got you covered. Here notes of caramel and vanilla are instantly infused into your margarita, giving it a luxurious mouthfeel and flavor that matches nicely with the more advanced Cadillac Margarita, without the need for Grand Mariner.

Partida Blanco

Partida

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $39.99

The Tequila:

Made from blue weber agave harvested at peak maturity from Jalisco’s Tequila Valley, Partida’s Blanco presents itself with a crystal clear appearance and a nicely balanced aroma and flavor.

Tasting Notes:

Highly vegetal with a pleasing earthy aroma that makes way for a flavor highly dominated by citrus and tropical fruits.

Why We Love It In A Margarita:

Partida Blanco is our choice for a sense-enticing mid-spring marg. It brings the citrus notes of your margarita to the forefront and bathes them in gentle kisses of sharp lemongrass, gentle tropical fruit, and warm cooked agave.

Patrón Reposado

Patron

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $54.99

The Tequila:

Patrón Reposado is easily the brand’s best core expression for margaritas — with a fresh honey-tinged agave aroma and a light hay color imparted from its three to five months of barrels aging.

Tasting Notes:

Oakey with heavy notes of fresh agave, nutmeg, and citrus with that distinct Patron honey taste at the finish

Why We Love It In A Margarita:

Complex without imparting too much of its oaky barrel-aged flavor into your margarita, this honey-toned tequila will bring out flavors of fresh peach and tinge your margarita with a subtle floral quality that mingles nicely with the more tart lime flavors.

21 Seeds Cucumber Jalapeño

21 Seeds

ABV: 35%-39%

Average Price: $33.99

The Tequila:

I’m not one who ever reaches for flavor-infused alcohol, those bottles have their place on your bar cart but usually as an added ingredient meant to add a little something extra to your cocktails. But 21 Seeds’ flavored tequilas are in a different class. You won’t find an overly candied mix here, instead, the flavors are surprisingly natural. Not quite as complex and interesting as your own fresh jalapeño infused tequila would be, but considerably less work!

Tasting Notes:

The flavors of cucumber and jalapeño are neutral here, existing mostly on the nose making way for a highly vegetal and grassy green tequila that adds a lot of interesting spice on the finish, but not enough to turn off the spice-averse. A good starter tequila for those who are interested in the complexity of a spiced cocktail, but are too scared to take the leap.

Why We Love It In A Margarita:

If you’re getting good mileage out of our base margarita recipe but want a little something extra to liven up the palate, 21 Seeds Cucumber and Jalapeño infused tequila is an easy tool to utilize to add a nice hit of spice to your classic cocktail.


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

×