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The Best Entry-Level Tequilas, According To Bartenders

Most entry-level tequila lands squarely in the “affordable” range. While not all beginner expressions are cheap, few are truly spendy and many can serve double duty — ready to mix into your favorite cocktail or be sipped neat.

“Most tequilas hitting the U.S. market are great quality and will work for any beginner tequila drinker as long as it’s well-balanced,” says Evan Hosaka, lead bartender at Electra Cocktail Club, inside The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas.

We agree with Hosaka that balance is key for an entry-level tequila. To find the bottles you should start your journey with, we turned to the professionals. 18 well-known bartenders were gracious enough to give us their picks — from blancos (also called silver or plate tequilas) to reposados — below. Click the prices if you want to grab a bottle for yourself.

Fortaleza Reposado

Fortaleza

Daniel Yang, lead bartender at Rosina inside The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $60

Why This Bottle?

Fortaleza is my pick. I cannot recommend this brand enough. I love all their products, but I lean heavily toward their Reposado. It’s exceptionally smooth with wonderful notes of caramel and citrus and can easily be enjoyed on the rocks for beginners.

There’s definitely a reason why so many bartenders swear by Fortaleza.

Coca Pura Plata

Coca Pura

Young Kim, director of spirits education and bar manager at Fine & Rare in New York City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

Why This Bottle?

Coca Pura (pronounced “cosa” pura) is made with agave from both the Highlands and Lowlands of Jalisco, which captures the flavor from both locations. You can sip it thanks to the barrel-aging or make a margarita. It is also gluten-free and kosher.

Clase Azul Plata

Clase Azul

Evan Hosaka, lead bartender at Electra Cocktail Club inside The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $119

Why This Bottle?

If you’re a beginner and trying to enjoy tequila neat, go for something a little nicer like Clase Azul. You’ll appreciate how smooth it is compared to other tequilas. This “Unrested” tequila is a blanco tequila that goes directly into the bottle after it’s distilled. It pulls more vegetal agave notes and it much brighter than the aged stuff.

El Tequileño Platinum

El Tequileno

Andy Shannon, bartender and co-founder of Candra Drinks in London

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $50

Why This Bottle?

This is less about being a beginner brand and more about just being a great tequila. El Tequileño Platinum is my recommendation. With freshly cooked agave on the nose and a slight spice on the palate, it’s great with the orange and lime oils and fresh orange juice we mix together in our margarita recipe.

Dos Artes Blanco

Dos Artes

Juyoung Kang, lead bartender at The Dorsey inside The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $99 (1-liter bottle)

Why This Bottle?

I prefer mezcal over tequila but if I had to pick anything, I would probably go with Dos Artes. It comes in a festive ceramic bottle, so it’s already dressed to party for summer ’21. It’s beautiful and clean with a great agave flavor.

Arette Blanco

Arette

Jeff Rogers, bar director of Jester Concepts in Minneapolis

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $25

Why This Bottle?

Agave spirits are some of the most amazing on the planet. But with popularity, comes over-farming. I try to support those who work towards sustainable practices to ensure future generations can experience wonderful agave spirits. Arette is one of the companies doing it right and their Arette Blanco is one of the best tequilas I’ve had. It is earthy and citrusy with a slight salinity.

The tequila shows the greatest aspects of the Blue Weber Agave plant. Plus, it’s incredibly priced for the quality.

Libelula Blanco

Libelula

Mark Phelan, beverage director of 16” on Center in Chicago

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $25

Why This Bottle?

Libelula is a blanco mixed with reposado to provide a great balance of fruit and earthy tones alongside soft vanilla from the barrel-aged portion. It is our well tequila, due to its versatility and price point — making it an all-around winner.

Lunazul Blanco

Lunazul

Aaron Lambert, bartender at Whiskey Kitchen in Durham, North Carolina

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $18

Why This Bottle?

I like Lunazul Blanco. It’s refreshing and crisp with bright flavors that also finish cleanly, almost in a flash. It disappears into drinks easily, which, though dangerous, also allows a novice drinker to still imbibe and celebrate without being punished by powerful booze flavors.

Hussong’s Silver

Hussong

David Wheelahan, bartender at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $35

Why This Bottle?

Hussong’s is the tequila that got me into tequila (specifically Hussong’s Silver). It’s bolder than a Patron but still smooth. It has a weightier texture even after it’s been shaken and chilled for a shot. No lime needed.

Casamigos Blanco

Casamigos

Ethan Skaggs, bar manager at Gris-Gris in New Orleans

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

Why This Bottle?

From entry-level tequila drinkers to those of us more seasoned with the spirit, Casamigos is a crowd-pleaser. For aspiring tequila lovers, I recommend Casamigos Blanco. This is surely a sipping tequila and at its price point, should be utilized as such. What makes this tequila unique is the amount of creamy texture you get from the earthy, ripe agave. It’s unmatched by comparable brands.

I really enjoy the more oily mouthfeel of the initial taste that quickly fades into an unrivaled sweetness with more complex notes of vanilla, lemon meringue, and chili peppercorn.

La Gritona Reposado

La Gritona

Brenna Gay, bartender at Bradford House in Oklahoma City

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

Why This Bottle:

La Gritona Reposado is my favorite tequila to introduce to newbie tequila drinkers. It’s smooth, lightly rested in barrels, and has a great quality that doesn’t lead to hangovers (unless you try hard enough). It’s a great way to start loving tequila. It’s also made and owned by a woman, uses recycled materials for bottles, and has sustainable growing practices.

I recommend it with soda on a hot day to appreciate the flavor, or in a Jalisco old fashioned when the evening cools off.

Don Julio 1942

Don Julio

Myles Holdsworth, director of food and beverage at The Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $180

Why This Bottle?

Don Julio has a wonderful array of tequilas. If you really want to introduce yourself to tequila in style, pick up a bottle of Don Julio 1942 and enjoy it on the rocks.

El Tesoro Blanco

El Tesoro

Chris Amirault, bartender and co-owner of PARMBOYZ in Los Angeles

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

Why This Bottle?

El Tesoro Blanco is my pick, hands down. They distill to proof which makes their tequila deliberately flavorful. The soft, vegetal notes pair perfectly with citrus and other flavors associated with your favorite tequila-based cocktails.

Cazadores Blanco

Cazadores

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

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $20

Why This Bottle?

Cazadores is a quick and easy jump into the agave bucket. The cooked agave notes are heavy and there is a backing of vanilla. It pairs very well in a citrus-forward cocktail similar to margarita or paloma.

Gran Centenario Plata

Gran Centenario

Slava Borisov, mixologist at Travelle at The Langham in Chicago

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $27

Why This Bottle?

Gran Centenario Plata is a perfect entry-level tequila for people who want to join in and discover the tequila world. Made in Los Altos, Jalisco, Centenario possesses fresh citrus notes with hints of tropical and stone fruits. This tequila is aged for almost one month in Limousin barrels which producers used in France to age their Cognac. It makes this tequila unusually rich and multi-dimensioned even though this is a Plata (or Blanco) tequila.

The palate is very refreshing and smooth with a touch of spiciness. Gran Centenario Plata has a reasonable price paired with great quality which makes this tequila especially attractive for shots! If you prefer long drinks instead of shots, I suggest preparing a refreshing tequila highball.

Espolòn Reposado

Espolon

Hadi Ktiri, beverage manager at Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences in New Orleans

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $25

Why This Bottle?

For tequila that’s super approachable make sure to stick to good quality juice. I particularly enjoy the soft, sweet flavors from Espolòn Reposado. It makes a great paloma, too.

Partida Reposado

Partida

Gabe Lozano, general manager of Avila’s El Ranchito in Orange County, California

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $40

Why This Bottle?

The best beginner tequila to drink this summer would be Partida Reposado. Partida Reposado is a very smooth tequila and aged perfectly to enjoy neat. Partida Reposado goes great in a fresh lime juice margarita, spicy margarita, or a paloma, especially if you’re using fresh grapefruit juice.

Tequila Ocho Plata

Tequila Ocho

Mike Gaines, director of food and beverage development for Xperience Restaurant Group in Cypress, California

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $50

Why This Bottle?

Tequila Ocho Plata is an easy-drinking tequila that is mildly floral and clean with lively flavors. The flavor of this unaged tequila honors the essence of the agaves of Arandas and the Camerena Ranch, which is why it is a great tequila to sip all summer long.


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

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