10 Best Tequilas for Margaritas and Shots in 2021

There's a great tequila for every taste and budget

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Our Top Picks
"Casamigos has a well-rounded premium tequila portfolio with something for everyone at a reasonable price."
"When you want to mix up the best margarita without spending a small fortune, this is a wonderful choice. "
"Sauza is a budget-friendly, easy-to-find tequila for easy-drinking shots and enjoyable frozen margaritas."
"This tequila has one of the bolder flavor profiles you will find, yet it retains the smoothness that defines great tequilas."
"This the aged tequila you won’t want to miss because it makes superior margaritas."
Best Blanco/Silver:
Espolòn Blanco at Drizly
"Against the earthy agave flavor, this tequila holds tropical fruit and floral notes that are ideal in any margarita recipe."
"Old-school techniques create an exceptionally smooth reposado tequila."
"Among the least expensive, a shot of this gold tequila goes down a little easier than most."
Best Single Estate:
Corazón Blanco Tequila at Drizly
"From the land of the richest tequilas, this smooth tequila displays the taste of agave wonderfully."
"A small upgrade in Patrón’s lineup makes a big difference in a margarita."

Whether you enjoy tequila shots or want to mix up a great margarita, today’s tequila market offers many excellent choices. Blanco tequilas are the most versatile and often preferred because they cost less, while the aged tequilas are a nice upgrade worthy of the occasional splurge. For most styles, the best tequilas include the words "100% Blue Weber Agave" on the label, and you will pay a little extra for premium brands, but the majority of these are relatively affordable. That means there's no need to hesitate about mixing any of these best tequilas into your favorite cocktails.

Best Overall: Casamigos Blanco Tequila

casamigos-blanco-tequila

Casamigos Tequila is a perfect introduction to premium tequilas. The portfolio follows the basic grading system for tequilas, which is standard for most brands and includes a blanco, reposado, and añejo tequila. 

The beautiful thing about Casamigos is that it doesn’t have a bold tequila taste. Instead, these tequilas are smooth and subtle. They appeal to drinkers who typically prefer vodka or rum, though tequila lovers appreciate them as well. Any bottle is a fantastic option for shots and margaritas, and they’re reasonably priced. You might even recognize it as the brand co-founded by George Clooney. While you have a bottle, it’s only appropriate to mix up a Danny Ocean cocktail, a sort of grapefruit, cherry-kissed margarita. It's also quite nice in a spicy paloma and the fun crouching tiger shooter.

Best Top-Shelf: Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Añejo Tequila

milagro-tequila

Añejo tequilas are aged between one and three years, letting the barrel’s charred oak flavor really develop inside the tequila. Considered the best of any brand’s portfolio, añejos are higher priced and typically reserved for high-end cocktails or sipping straight. For a beautiful example of how this plays out, try Milagro Tequila’s Select Barrel Reserve Añejo Tequila.

When you want to mix up the best margarita without spending a small fortune, this is a wonderful choice. It should only be paired with a top-shelf orange liqueur and fresh lime juice. The blue agave is estate-grown, and the tequila is aged for 14 to 24 months in American and French oak barrels. Only the choicest tequila from the lot makes it into the bottle, and the vanilla, chocolate, and butterscotch notes make it a very impressive tequila.

Best Cheap: Sauza Silver Tequila

Sauza Silver Tequila

Budget tequilas are tricky, and it is very easy to get burned when you buy the wrong one. Sauza Silver is one that won’t let you down or leave your mouth on fire. It may not be as smooth as top-shelf tequilas, but it is one of the best affordable options, and it’s in nearly every liquor store. 

Sauza is distilled in the town of Tequila and right across the street from Jose Cuervo. While both brands are famous for their cheap gold tequilas, Sauza’s 100% blue Weber agave silver tequila is a smoother option for tequila shots when you want to save money. It makes a nice margarita as well, particularly when blended with fruits like strawberry and pineapple.

Best Mid-Priced: Herradura Silver Tequila

Tequila Herradura Silver

Silver (or blanco) tequilas are unaged and the most affordable of any brand’s lineup. Tequila Herradura offers a brilliant example that should be almost anywhere you look. It is premium, but not priced out of reach for the average drinker, and it always produces a great tequila cocktail.

This tequila has one of the bolder flavor profiles you will find, yet it retains the smoothness that defines great tequilas. It won't get lost in the most flavorful cocktails and works particularly well with fresh lime juice in a margarita. Herradura also won’t leave you cringing after a straight shot. Quite simply, this is great tequila and one of the better deals in its class.

Good to Know

The beauty of the tequila revolution is that there is a tequila out there for everyone. Taste is a personal experience, so no matter your budget or preferred drinks, the best tequila is one that you enjoy on its own. Before mixing or shooting any new-to-you tequila, pour a shot and slowly sip it straight. This tasting exercise will give you a good idea of the tequila’s flavor, smoothness, and mixability.

Best Añejo: Don Julio Añejo Tequila

zoom DON JULIO ANEJO TEQUILA

It's hard to find faults in the tequilas of Don Julio. They are readily available, super smooth, and richly flavored with the distinct tequila flavors that make the spirit special. The brand's aged tequilas are particularly impressive and have a reputation that puts them among the best of the best.

Don Julio Añejo is one you won’t want to miss. It instantly improves any cocktail it touches and really shines in a shaken margarita with fresh lime. If you are looking to mix up some of the best tequila drinks you can afford, it’s the tequila to keep in your bar. While it’s probably too pricey for a shot, it’s a very smooth sipper enjoyed by many tequila aficionados.

Best Blanco/Silver: Espolòn Blanco

Espolon Blanco

Blanco tequilas offer a pure taste of the agave plant from which tequila is distilled. Without barrel aging, there’s no extra flavor to disguise a poorly crafted liquor, so it’s important to choose wisely. Espolòn Blanco offers that tasty, ultra-smooth 100 percent blue Weber agave tequila everyone seeks out, and that’s why it’s a fan-favorite.

Against the earthy agave flavor, this tequila holds tropical fruit and floral notes that are ideal in any margarita recipe. Its clean, crisp finish also makes it a great candidate for a round of shots with friends. This tequila is fairly priced so it can be an everyday drinker, and the eye-catching bottle design looks great in the bar.

Best Reposado: Olmeca Tezòn Reposado Tequila

Olmeca Tezòn Reposado Tequila

Los Altos is a region of Jalisco, Mexico that’s known for producing some amazing tequilas. It’s home to the Olmeca Distillery, the makers of Tequila Tezòn. While all of the tequilas are very enjoyable, the brand’s reposado is superb.

Reposado tequilas are aged for three to nine months, so they’re gently rested and pick up a perfect amount of oak flavors. Tezòn also uses a tahona wheel to extract the juice from the agave, which is an old-fashioned approach that leads to a truer taste. The result is one of the best reposado tequilas on the market and one that anyone will enjoy drinking in any way they please.

Best Gold: Two Fingers Gold Tequila

Two Fingers Gold Tequila

Before the tequila boom of the last couple of decades, gold tequila was almost the only choice at many liquor stores. This category is a mixto meaning that it’s distilled from agave plant varietals other than the famous blue Weber. While gold tequilas are not as popular as they once were, there’s something appealing about their caramel taste and low price. You’ll want to be smart about which to drink, and Two Fingers Gold Tequila is one of the best in this category.

This tequila doesn’t have the burn that gave gold tequilas their notorious reputation. It’s surprisingly smooth in comparison, and that makes shooting it a little easier. It’s also a good choice for margaritas that include strong flavors like spicy peppers. Two Fingers happens to be among the least expensive tequilas on the market as well.

Best Single Estate: Corazón Blanco Tequila

Tequila Corazón Blanco

Bottles of Tequila Corazón hold some of the smoothest, richest tequilas you’ll find. Each sip is pure pleasure, and the tequila makes a fantastic margarita. Corazón is distilled in Los Altos, a region with red clay soil that yields some of the best agave plants. The distillery only uses agave grown on the estate so it can ensure quality from field to bottle. The blanco tequila is crisp, clean, and full of that unmistakable agave flavor. It is everything you would hope to find in a great tequila.

Corazón is a great value for the money and one of the best options available at a mid-range price. You definitely won't mind shooting or mixing this one. It's great in every style of drink, from the elegant envy cocktail to the traditional sangrita shooter.

Fun Fact

The agave plant is a succulent in the lily family. From the surface, it looks like a giant aloe vera with intimidating cactus-like spikes, but below ground is the real prize. Called a piña, the bulbs look like massive pineapples. Once harvested by hand, they’re baked, juiced, and distilled into tequila.

Best Patron: Patrón Reposado Tequila

Patrón Reposado Tequila

Patrón is a popular tequila, and you can find a bottle of Patrón Silver in almost any bar or liquor store you walk into. When it comes to a reliable, easy-to-find tequila, it's a nice option. For the money, an upgrade to the brand’s reposado is a worthy investment, particularly when margaritas are on your mind.

The reposado is a blend of tequilas that use a traditional tahona wheel and modern rollers, bringing out the best of both agave processing techniques. The result is an exceptionally smooth, gently aged tequila with a nicely balanced flavor that falls perfectly between the brand’s blanco and añejo tequilas. It’s a bottle that you can easily share with guests and rest assured that everyone will be pleased with their drink.

What to Look for When Buying Tequila

100% Blue Weber Agave

When shopping for tequila, look for these words on the bottle. It is easier than ever to find them because almost every tequila brand has realized that this is what drinkers really want.

Grading System

It is also important to remember the basic grading system for tequilas. Typically, every tequila brand's portfolio will offer a blanco, reposado, and añejo tequila.

Price

You can usually gauge tequila's quality by the price range. Very few 100 percent tequilas will be less than $20. However, there are options available, and some of these are rather impressive for the price. The blanco will be the least expensive of any tequila's portfolio. You can expect to pay an extra $5 to $10 for the reposado and the same for the next step up to an añejo.

FAQs

What is tequila made from? 

Tequila is made from the extracted juices of the agave plant. By law, tequila must include at least 51 percent Weber blue agave, and the majority of tequilas exclusively use that variety. The agave juice is fermented and distilled, and the tequila is diluted to bottling strength. Tequila destined to be reposado or añejo is aged in wood barrels for two months to a few years. Silver (or blanco) tequila is unaged but can rest in stainless steel for up to two months. Gold (or joven) tequila is the only style that can include coloring and flavoring additives.

How much tequila do you put in a margarita? 

For a single margarita, a 1 1/2-ounce shot of tequila is standard. It is typically equal to the total volume of the other two ingredients (triple sec and lime juice). For instance, the classic margarita formula is 3 parts tequila, 2 parts triple sec, and 1 part lime juice. This is adjusted to taste, pouring more triple sec for a sweeter margarita or extra lime to give it a tart kick.

When sizing the margarita up to a pitcher, simply increase the ingredients and keep them in proportion. For example, in the typical half-gallon (64-ounce) pitcher, you would combine 3 3/4 cups tequila, 2 1/2 cups orange liqueur, and 1 1/4 cup lime juice. This makes 7 1/2 cups, leaving room in the pitcher for you to adjust the three ingredients to taste, add a sweetener (e.g., simple syrup, agave nectar) without increasing the alcohol, or chill it with ice. The margarita is a strong drink, so dilution and small (about 4-ounce) servings are important.

Does tequila expire? 

Tequila does not have a shelf life unless it is stored improperly. Like all liquors that do not include a sweetener, an unopened bottle will not go bad. Once open, you may notice some loss in flavor after quite a few years, though it will not spoil like other beverages or food. This deterioration will happen more quickly if the tequila cap is not tight or the bottle is exposed to extreme temperatures and bright, direct light.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Colleen Graham is a beverage writer with over a decade of experience writing about cocktails and bartending. She has visited tequila distilleries in Mexico, tasted countless tequilas over the years, and wrote a book on the spirit.

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