Like many cocktail origin stories, the history of the margarita is understandably hazy. But whatever you believe about the margarita’s past, this beloved Mexican cocktail is all about living in the present. From the best backyard dinner parties to the most unforgettable happy hours, there’s no wrong occasion to enjoy a well-made margarita. With the rise of expertly crafted tequilas, now is one of the best times to indulge.
For budding bartenders, there are a few key elements to look out for when selecting the perfect tequila for a tasty margarita. Made from the blue agave plant that grows in various regions in Mexico, the main indicator of a good tequila is that its made with 100% blue agave. You'll also often come across Blanco and Reposado variations of the alcohol. The former is thought of as the purest form of tequila while the latter indicates that it's been aged for anywhere between two months and a year in an oak barrel.
Whether you’re mixing at home or drinking out, here’s how to make the most of this classic cocktail. Read on to discover eight of the best tequilas for margaritas.
Much like champagne, true tequila is defined by an appellation of origin, meaning that it can only be grown in a particular region. The components of its terroir gives Fortaleza a major edge when it comes to delicious margaritas. Kiowa Bryan of the Eveleigh in Los Angeles describes it as “a creamy, vegetal, bright spirit that showcases the taste of agave and the area in which it was grown.”
Don Julio is like the universal donor of tequilas: It’s smooth enough to appeal to casual tequila drinkers, and yet it’s sophisticated enough to earn approval from more serious connoisseurs. Hints of citrus play well with Cointreau and make this one of the best tequilas for margaritas, including sweet and spicy variations.
Tequila Mi Campo Blanco
Made with 100% blue weber agave and aged in French oak barrels previously used for aging Napa Valley Chardonnay, Mi Campo Blanco tequila is a great option for mixing a flavorful margarita. You'll taste notes of orange blossom tea, honey, and white pepper while your nose detects cooked agave, banana, fresh coconut, and vanilla for a tropical beverage.
When he’s not busy winning Oscars, George Clooney is busy winning international spirits awards with Casamigos, his ultra-drinkable tequila brand. With notes of fresh cinnamon and mint on top of the agave, this tequila is an excellent choice for both classic recipes and warmer winter variations on the margarita.
Citrusy and herbal, Siembra Azul means “blue harvest” in Spanish and carries the fresh, peppery, and floral characteristics of a true Jalisco highland tequila. One of the best tequilas for margaritas, it’s also a favorite among legendary craft cocktail programs like Death & Co.
Aged in oak whiskey barrels for between eight months to one year, Los Sundays Reposado tequila offers a smooth finish that would taste great in a margarita. Experienced mixologists will detect hints of whiskey from the distilling process along with natural coconut extract and agave, giving it a balanced taste.
Smooth and delicate with a touch of sweetness, Lunazul is the perfect choice for tropically inspired margaritas and is both presentable and inexpensive enough to serve at your next cocktail party. As bartender John Henderson of Scholars in Boston points out, Lunazul is “very reasonably priced and stands up well to citrus and other modifiers.”
Even those with limited knowledge of tequila will recognize Patrón as a high-quality spirit worthy of a margarita. It's handcrafted with 100% agave to achieve the perfect balance of flavors. You'll note fruity citrus and hints of baked agave when sipping.
The Perfect Margarita
Now that you know the best tequila for margaritas, here’s one of our favorite recipes:
2 oz. tequila
3/4 oz. Cointreau
3/4 oz. lime juice
A splash of agave nectar
Shake all ingredients with ice, and then strain into a salt-rimmed glass and garnish with lime.
Stock the Bar
This post was originally published on November 26, 2017, and has since been updated.