Go Beyond The Margarita With These Tequila Cocktails
March 7, 2023 –––––– Brittany Risher Englert
Say “tequila,” and many people immediately think “Margarita.” And whether you’re hosting a party or making tacos for two, everyone should know how to make this easy classic without resorting to neon green mixers. Simply shake tequila, orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice with ice, then strain into a salt-rimmed glass.
But don’t stop at Margaritas. Discover the many ways to enjoy tequila’s different styles. “Tequila is a uniquely complex spirit with an array of pleasant notes that can be incorporated with many flavor profiles that accent each other to create a well-balanced and enjoyable cocktail all year round,” says William Scyphers, beverage director of Cumberland Bar at JW Marriott Nashville.
While all tequila adds depth and earthiness to cocktails, blanco tends to add black pepper and citrus flavors, reposado often has notes of vanilla and baking spices from the oak barrel, and the longer aging process of añejo intensifies these flavors, leading to richer hints of caramel and vanilla.
The recipes below highlight just a few ways to begin to experience all that tequila offers.
Four Cocktails That Highlight The Many Sides of Tequila
Created by William Scyphers, beverage director, Cumberland Bar, JW Marriott Nashville
“A hint of spice from chile peppers enhances notes from the aged tequila as well as the yuzu, ginger, and rosemary,” Scyphers says. “The silky finish coats the tongue so the palate can pull the different flavors with every sip.”
- 1½ oz. Casamigos añejo
- ¾ oz. Ancho Reyes chile liqueur
- 1 oz. Dress the Drink yuzu ginger rosemary-infused syrup (or equal parts yuzu, ginger, and rosemary simple syrups)
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 1½ oz. egg white
- 3 thinly sliced jalapeño rings for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a coupe and gently rest jalapeño rings on top.
Created by Amanda Swanson, agave spirit specialist, Añejo, New York City
“This slightly herbal, effervescent long drink is delightfully crushable,” Swanson says.
- 1½ oz. Tequila Ocho Plata
- 5-6 mint leaves
- ½ oz. simple syrup
- ½ oz. lime juice
- ¾ oz. pineapple juice
- 2-4 oz. club soda
- 4-5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- 1 mint sprig for garnish
Add mint leaves, simple syrup, and lime juice to a cocktail shaker tin. Muddle for no more than 5 seconds. Add ice, pineapple juice, and tequila. Shake until incorporated, about five seconds. Fine-strain with a mesh strainer into a Collins glass over fresh cubed ice. Top with club soda and add bitters. Garnish with mint sprig.
The Blood on the Tracks is an earthy and tart tequila cocktail. (Drink Styling by Duncan Fitzpatrick; Photo by Jeff Harris)
Blood on the Tracks
Created by Phil Ingram, bar manager, Take Root Hospitality, St. Louis
This easy-drinking sip is tart, slightly vegetal, and earthy. “For more smokiness, substitute a mezcal for the blanco or split the base,” Ingram suggests.
- 1 oz. Partida blanco
- ½ oz. Ferrand dry curaçao
- ½ oz. La Venenosa Raicilla Tabernas
- ½ oz. Cynar
- ½ oz. blood orange syrup (recipe below)
- Dehydrated blood orange wedge for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 20-30 seconds and strain into a coupe. Garnish with dehydrated blood orange wedge.
Blood Orange Syrup
- 6 oz. blood orange juice
- 2 oz. lemon juice
- 3-4 mint sprigs
- 8 oz. granulated sugar
Bring juices to a simmer in a pot over low heat. Add mint sprigs and allow to steep for 3 minutes. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and cool. Strain into a glass container, seal, and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
My Cousin Vinny
Created by Joel Schmeck, bar manager/consultant, Cooperativa Modern Italian Market, Portland, Oregon
Caramel and pepper from the reposado balance with zippy citrus and spicy ginger in this viscous cocktail.
- 1 oz. Chamucos reposado (or other reposado)
- 1 oz. Cynar 70
- ¾ oz. lemon juice
- ½ oz. fresh Seville orange juice (or other tart orange juice, such as tangerine)
- ½ oz. ginger syrup (recipe below)
- Flamed orange peel for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until the cocktail shaker is frosty, about 10 seconds. Double strain over one large cube in a double Old Fashioned glass and garnish with flamed orange peel.
- 4 oz. fresh ginger juice
- ½ cup demerara or turbinado sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 8 oz. filtered water
Combine ginger juice, sugars, and water in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until sugar is thoroughly dissolved, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a heat-resistant container, and let cool to room temperature. Keep refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 1 month.