Like many cocktail origin stories, the exact history of the margarita remains hazy. But whatever you believe about the margarita’s past, most everyone agrees that the best way to enjoy this beloved Mexican cocktail is to craft it with top-notch tequila. Nowadays, there's really no wrong occasion to sip one, either: Margaritas are just as fitting served up at fancy dinner parties as they are downed during informal bar crawls.
An exceptional margarita is only as good as the tequila you choose, and your choice should depend mainly on the type of flavor you wish to evoke. We've rounded up eight of the best mixologist-approved tequilas—with varying flavor profiles—sure to take any boring old margarita from "Meh" to "Mmm" in quick order. But first, a word on tequila's makeup:
The common denominator in any "true" tequila is that it's made specifically from the juice of the blue agave plant, a large succulent that's native to certain regions of Mexico, like Jalisco, and designated areas in four other Mexican states. Two variations of the spirit include Blanco (its purest form) and Reposado, which has been aged in an oak barrel for at least two months and up to one year.
Now enjoy these eight tried-and-true tequila picks—they're all perfect for your next margarita.
Creamy and Vegetal
The components of its terroir give Fortaleza a major edge. Bartender Kiowa Bryan, of Eveleigh in Los Angeles, describes it as “a creamy, vegetal, bright spirit that highlights the taste of agave that's unique to Jalisco, the area in which it was grown.”
Smooth and Citrusy
Don Julio's smoothness appeals to casual tequila drinkers and serious connoisseurs alike. Its inherent citrus notes play well with Cointreau (an orange-flavored liqueur included in most margarita recipes), making it the ideal spirit for a sweet, spicy margarita.
Sweet and Tropical
Because Mi Campo's parent company markets its Blanco to 25- to 35-year-olds, Forbes has dubbed it today's "tequila for Millennials"—mainly for its accessibility and affordability. This tequila produces notes of orange-blossom tea, honey, and white pepper and smells of cooked agave, banana, fresh coconut, and vanilla—making for a sublimely tropical quaff.
Crisp and Clear
When he’s not busy winning Oscars, George Clooney is hanging out with Cindy Crawford's husband and winning international spirits awards with their ultra-drinkable tequila, Casamigos. On top of the clearness of its agave flavor, you'll taste notes of vanilla, fresh cinnamon, and mint.
Casamigos tequila is an excellent choice in classic margarita recipes and warmer winter variations, too.
Floral and Herbal
Citrusy and herbal, Siembra Azul means “blue harvest” in Spanish and carries the fresh, peppery, floral characteristics of a true Jalisco highland tequila. It’s also a staple on some of the world's best craft cocktail menus, such as Death & Co.'s, in New York City.
Nutty and Oaky
Because Løs Sundays has been aged for a year inside oak whiskey barrels, you might actually detect hints of whiskey from its distilling process. Its smooth finish and balanced taste can be attributed to natural coconut extract and its unique combination of high and lowland agave varietals with a citrus, nutmeg, and oak backing.
Hot and Spicy
With hints of cinnamon and cloves—and a hot, spicy aftertaste—Lunazul is the perfect counterpoint to tropically-inspired margaritas. It's very inexpensive, too. Bartender John Henderson, of Scholars in Boston agrees: “It's very reasonably priced and stands up well to citrus and other modifiers.”
Fruity and Peppery
Even those with limited knowledge of tequila will recognize Patrón as a ubiquitous choice the world over. After sipping, you'll taste its fruity, citrusy notes as well as hints of baked agave and a light, peppery finish.
How to Mix The Perfect Margarita
Now that you've learned about some of the best tequilas on the market, here’s how to craft the perfect, tart margarita:
2 oz. tequila
3/4 oz. Cointreau
3/4 oz. lime juice
A splash of agave nectar
Done mixing? Now stock your bar with these five essentials to wow guests and make them a perfect margarita every time.