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What Tequila is Best for Cocktails?

 
PUBLISHED IN cocktails, tequila
Tequila is one of the most famous cocktail ingredients on the planet courtesy of the margarita.

It’s also the most celebratory because it’s been branded with certain hedonistic associations that encompass every possible negative stereotype about Mexico while still getting the vibe right.
 
What other drink gets a song written about it like 1958’s “Tequila!” which is an amalgamation of surf rock and the twist? It only has three spoken words, all of them are “Tequila!” Need we say more?

What kind of Tequila to Buy for Cocktails?
First thing to know is that you, the discerning mixologist, are looking for 100% agave Tequila for your cocktails. It will say so right there on the bottle. That’s the basic standard. If you follow it you can’t go too wrong. 

Most people assume that all Tequilas were created equal. That, gasp!, there is a single type of Tequila. But actually there are pure Tequilas and those made with additives.

If you're going for the low(est) shelf Tequila, then you’re most likely buying a Tequila with additives. Often they're a mixture of Tequila and sugar cane spirits. And the ones that are called "gold" are a mixture of older and younger Tequilas with some caramel colouring added. 
 
 
Should I mix Blanco, Reposado or Anejo Tequila in my Cocktails?
Three types of Tequila you can find out there are based on age and their contact with wood. The wood is usually a Whiskey barrel, but there are all sorts of experiments in the industry so you may see some notation about that on the bottle.

All three types of Tequila work differently in cocktails, so depending what drinks you want to mix, choose the one that will fit best: 
 
Blanco, Silver, or White
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This is Tequila fresh from the still that can rest for up to 60 days in any sort of container, usually something neutral like glass. Generally the Blanco Tequilas are very fresh, sometimes fruity, occasionally slightly acidic. Silver Tequilas are a great base for margaritas or similar cocktails. 
 
Reposado
A Tequila that was aged in wood barrels for a period ranging from two to twelve months. Reposados tend to be softer and rounder and retain some of that woodiness from the barrel aging which makes them perfect for cocktails where you would traditionally use Whiskey. 
 
Anejo
A Tequila aged in wood barrels between one and three years. Anejos are reposados on steroids. So much so that it can be tricky, not to mention expensive, to use them in cocktails. The longer they age the smoother they get so they are frequently better sipped alone but they are similar enough to soft Whiskeys that you can substitute accordingly.

There is also an unofficial super-anejo (Extra Anejo) category which simply means that the Tequila is aged for more than three years. Since those are very expensive and made to be sipped you don’t want to use them in cocktails.

Which Brand of Tequila should I buy?
Remember the first lesson of the Tequila world, buy only 100% agave Tequilas and you’ll be well on your way to serving something good. Seriously, we live in a golden age for Tequila so you have many good options.

Ready to start mixing? Try these Tequila cocktail recipes.

READ MORE ABOUT: cocktails, tequila

By Max Garrone

Max Garrone

About the author: Max is cofounder of Mezcalistas, a website and event company that covers the world of Mezcal. When he’s not writing about agave spirits he can be found drinking espresso, sampling the San Francisco dining scene, or helping his clients set their content strategies.

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