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.
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When you want to mix up the best margarita without spending a small fortune, this is a wonderful choice.
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Sauza is a budget-friendly, easy-to-find tequila for easy-drinking shots and enjoyable frozen margaritas.
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This tequila has one of the bolder flavor profiles you will find, yet it retains the smoothness that defines great tequilas.
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This the aged tequila you won’t want to miss because it makes superior margaritas.
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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.
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Old-school techniques create an exceptionally smooth reposado tequila.
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Among the least expensive, a shot of this gold tequila goes down a little easier than most.
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Best Single Estate:
Corazón Blanco Tequila at Drizly
From the land of the richest tequilas, this smooth tequila displays the taste of agave wonderfully.
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A small upgrade in Patrón’s lineup makes a big difference in a margarita.
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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—reposado and añejo—are a nice upgrade worthy of the occasional splurge. For most styles, the best tequilas include the words "100 percent 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.

Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, citrus, cream | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco

What The Experts Say

Raúl Rizo, the bar supervisor at The Cape in Los Cabos, Mexico, notes, “As soon as tequila blanco is distilled, it is stored in a bottle or rested in barrels of encino or oak for no more than two months. It is the teenager of tequilas—young, impetuous, and fearless with hints of citrus, menthol, and herbal senses from agave Weber azul.”

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.

Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Caramel, vanilla, pepper | ABV: 40% | Region: Los Altos, Jalisco

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 percent 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.

Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Fresh agave, fiber, pepper | ABV: 40% | Region: Los Valles, Jalisco

Best Mid-Price: 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.

Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Cooked agave, citrus, black pepper | ABV: 40% | Region: Tequila Valley, Jalisco

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.

Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Toasted oak, caramel, baked yam | ABV: 40% | Region: Los Altos, Jalisco

What The Experts Say

“Añejo Tequila is tequila that is aged in oak barrels for at least a year, but not over three years,” says Brian Eadie, lead bartender at Geraldine’s Austin in Texas. “It has a sweet, woody aroma with notes of smoke, burnt caramel, and dried fruits—definitely a sipping tequila. Añejo is great for making a tequila old-fashioned and substituting the whiskey for añejo tequila, orange bitters for Angostura bitters, and brown sugar for white sugar.”

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.

Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Sweet agave, anise, mineral | ABV: 40% | Region: Los Altos, Jalisco

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.

Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Roasted agave, leather, pickles | ABV: 40% | Region: Jalisco

What The Experts Say

“Reposado tequila is a great middle-ground for cocktails. The mellow aged flavor can make them a fantastic choice for palomas, tequila sodas, or on the rocks.” — Blaze LaRoe, Beverage Director at Chikatana

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.

Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Pear, toast, oak | ABV: 40% | Region: Los Altos, Jalisco

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.

Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Cooked agave, citrus, earth | ABV: 40% | Region: Los Altos, Jalisco

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.

Bottle Size: 750 milliliters | Tasting Notes: Cooked agave, alcohol, black pepper | ABV: 40% | Region: Los Altos, Jalisco

Final Verdict

The beauty of our overall pick, Casamigos Blanco (view at Drizly), is that it's smooth and subtle, allowing perfect execution for not only premium cocktails, but straight shots and sippers, too. If ańejo is more your style, we recommend the top-shelf Milagro Tequila Select Barrel Reserve (view at Drizly).

What to Look for When Buying Tequila

100 Percent 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.

Blue Weber is known as the most elegant expression of tequila. “While tequila falls under the mezcal category, several distillers around the town of Tequila began distilling a superior form of mezcal. They used the whole heart of blue agave, which is indigenous to the region,” describes Brian Olson, the founder and owner of Café Intermezzo.

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.

“Blanco tequila is unaged. It should be botanical, crisp, clean, green and earthy, and sometimes herbaceous with citrus oil notes,” describes spirits expert Antoine Hodge. “Reposado literally translates to ‘rested’ and is lightly aged (at least 2 months, but under 12 months in Euro or American white oak), so the flavor transforms into richer, toastier, and nuttier tones. Añejo and extra añejo tequilas are aged the longest and begin to showcase sweeter, vanilla notes with lingering remnants of baking spices”

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.

Purpose

How are you sipping your tequila? Pick your bottle accordingly. Rizo recommends if you’re doing shots, opt for “Blanco, blanco, and more blanco.”

Blaze LaRoe, the beverage director at Chikatana, also reaches for blanco in cocktails. “Blanco tequila is my go-to for margaritas or anything citrus-based. I choose these tequilas because the depth of flavor of reposado and añejo tequilas can be dulled by mixing them with juices, syrups, and liqueurs.”

That said, if you’re looking to elevate a cocktail, Aubrey Ruettiger, the beverage directory of Tiny’s Cantina, says, “While many prefer blanco, don’t be shy to experiment with some reposado in your margarita.”

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 1.5-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 three parts tequila, two parts triple sec, and one part lime juice. This is adjusted to taste, pouring more triple sec for a sweeter margarita or extra lime to increase the tartness.

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 3.75 cups tequila, 2.5 cups orange liqueur, and 1.25 cup lime juice. This makes 7.5 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.

What are the different types of tequila?

"The difference between blanco, añejo, and reposado is the aging process,” describes Dylan Alpaugh, the general manager of Sophia's Lounge. “Blanco tequilas are unaged and come out clear. Reposado tequilas are aged in white oak bottles for a period of two months to a year, imparting a slight yellowish-brown color. Añejo tequilas are aged in white oak barrels for a period of one to three years, imparting a rich brown color to the tequila.”

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.

Kate Dingwall, a sommelier and spirits writer, updated this roundup. She has been writing about wine and spirits for five years and has visited the Jalisco region over a dozen times. She has even harvested her own agave.

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