Tequila is summer in a bottle. This couldn’t be more obvious than July 24th — when National Tequila Day lands on our (very empty) calendars. This Blue Weber-agave spirit is fresh, light, and full of vegetal sweetness. It’s the base for some of the best summer cocktails, including the Uproxx-beloved paloma and the happy hour staple the margarita.
While we’re all about sipping cocktails while we sit on a patio or porch, preferably overlooking a large body of water, we also enjoy tequila neat or on the rocks. Which means that we’re often looking for the good stuff. No dyes or additives, please.
Just like with anything and everything on God’s green earth, there are overly hyped, properly hyped, and correctly hyped bottles of tequila out there. But with National Tequila Day upon us, we’re not here to trash brands or sing the praises of brands that don’t need any more press. We’re talking about the bottles that don’t get the respect they deserve — so we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their picks for the most underrated bottles on the market.
Don Julio Reposado
Nestor Marchand, director of food and beverage at Plunge Beach Resort in Lauderdale, Florida
Don Julio Reposado. It’s aged for 8 months in American white oak barrels. The result is a very mellow tequila with hints of cinnamon and sweet agave. Excellent tasting tequila.
Grand Vida Anejo
Shawn Brown, General manager of Wine World in Miramar Beach, Florida
This is tricky. Grand Vida Anejo. The packaging is not the best, but the tequila is very smooth and significantly less expensive and tastes better than Patron.
Don Abraham Reposado
Mohammed Rahman, bar director, Kata Robata in Houston
When thinking of top-shelf tequila, brands such as Don Julio, Patron, and Clase Azul are quick to appear into the forefront. A brand I believe deserves to be in that line up is Don Abraham. With offerings from blanco to extra anejo, this brand has been around for decades. My personal favorite being their reposado.
This expression is a great bang for your buck and never fails to satisfy, exhibiting traits any tequila enthusiast would immediately dub to be worthy of their adoration.
Don Julio Blanco
Reniel Garcia, bar director of Havana 1957 in Miami
Don Julio Blanco has a very nice pungent roasted agave aroma. The taste contained an obvious herbal character combined with some spice/peppery notes. The agave does emerge towards the end to round things out.
One of the better blancos I’ve tried. Perfect for margaritas and maybe neat if it tickles your fancy.
Casa Dragones Joven
Seamus Gleason, bartender at Hotel Jackson in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Casa Dragones Joven. It’s silky smooth with a full body that doesn’t overwhelm the palate. A great sipping tequila for summer (or pretty much any other time of year).
Jose Cuervo Especial Gold
Robert Swain Jr., owner of On the Rox Bartending Service in the British Virgin Islands
One of my favorite brands of tequila by far is Jose Cuervo. It might not seem underrated in the classic sense, but it definitely is since it sometimes doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Whether it’s in a cocktail, on the rocks, or in a shot with lime and salt, it gets the job done.
Great flavor and very smooth.
Olmeca Altos Plata
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Kurt Bellon, general manager and beverage director at Chao Baan in St. Louis
Olmeca Altos Plata is 100% agave that is reasonably priced so it can and should be found on the speed rails of bars across the country. With that said, for a well tequila, it is smooth with a pleasant nose and bucks the usual danger of ordering a round of tequila shots for the crew.
Tim Wiggins, co-owner and beverage director of Retreat Gastropub in St. Louis
Cimarron. Their blanco and reposado are both super tasty. I love the grassy hay-like flavor of Cimarron. It is difficult to balance freshness, dryness, and earthiness in tequila and I think Cimarron strikes that balance really well.
Siembre Azul Blanco
Jeremy Allen, Beverage Director of MiniBar Hollywood in Los Angeles
I really like Siembre and I wish more people knew about their small-batch, artisanal tequilas. Made from the highest-quality Blue Weber agave, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of Siembre Azul.
Casa Noble Anejo
The hierarchy of premium tequila brands, Casa Noble deserves a spot alongside Patron, Casamigos, Herradura, and Don Julio. Its anejo is made from 100 percent Blue Weber agave and is exceptionally smooth and full of vanilla, honey, and caramel flavors from aging in French oak barrels for two years.