10 Great Tequilas for Shots, Margaritas, and Cocktails

There's a Great Tequila for Every Taste and Budget

Close up Of Tequila Shot Glass and Limes
Doug Berry / Getty Images

Tequila has certainly grown up. No longer are you stuck with one or two options when you want a tequila shot or to mix up a margarita. Today, we have many really good choices and it's not hard to find great tasting tequilas at every price point.

100% Blue Weber Agave Tequila

Tequila's notorious reputation as the king of hangovers comes from the days when cheap gold tequilas were basically the only option. Also called mixto tequilas, these are blends of different tequilas and sometimes include additives, not all of which are natural.

The educated tequila consumer now knows to look for the words "100% Blue Weber Agave" 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.

It is also important to remember the basic grading system for tequilas. Almost every tequila brand's portfolio will offer a blanco, reposado, and añejo tequila. The last two are aged and have the same gold coloring of those gold tequilas, they are just better!

Buying Tequila

When you are looking at a brand, you can usually gauge its quality by the price range. Very few of these 100% 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.

Tequila Shots or Cocktails

The beauty of this tequila revolution is that there is a tequila out there for everyone. For tequila shots, you might want to stick with the first few tequilas below. Don't let price stop you from enjoying a nice tequila as a shooter, though! They'll go down smoother and won't leave your head spinning right away.

Also, there's no need to hesitate about mixing any of the tequilas on this list into your favorite tequila cocktails. The most expensive here has a balance that sells for $50. This isn't bad considering some of the ultra-premium (and arguably often overpriced) options available today.

  • 01 of 10

    Sauza Tequila and Tres Generaciones

    Sauza Silver Tequila

    Beam Suntory

    Budget tequilas are a tricky business and it is very easy to get burned when you buy the wrong one. Seriously, your mouth and stomach will be on fire with the wrong tequila!

    That is why the top pick for a budget-friendly tequila is Sauza Silver. It may not be as smooth as other tequilas, but it is one of the best options for around $15. It's a good addition to many quick tequila mixed drinks and a perfect option for shooters like the firecracker.

    Though it is an option, Sauza Gold is not going to be as well-balanced or smooth as Sauza Silver. Quite simply, if you can get the balance the silver at this price, there's no need to pay for the additives. Stick to the 100% agave tequilas and you will have a better drinking experience. It's fun in any shot and many cocktails and is a favorite

    The Upgrade...

    If you want an upgrade within the Sauza family, try Tres Generaciones. Where the Sauza tequilas are double distilled, Tres Generaciones are triple distilled and in this case, the difference is significant.

    The upgrade will cost you, as a bottle of Tres Generaciones Plata (the blanco bottling) is just under $50. However, it is worth it, especially in a cocktail like the unforgettable tamarind margarita.

  • 02 of 10

    Olmeca Altos Tequila and Tezon

    Olmeca Altos Tequila

    Pernod Ricard 

    The Olmeca Distillery in Los Altos region of Jalisco, Mexico is producing some of the best tequilas you can find.

    For anyone on a budget, a bottle of Olmeca Altos Tequila is a great choice for a blanco tequila. It is a light, dry tequila balanced with layers of pepper, fruit, and spice that finishes with a snap of sweet agave, salt, and pepper. It is a really nice option for tequila shots like the Mexican Samurai and fruity margaritas.

    The blanco is right around $20 and they also produce a reposado and añejo.

    The Upgrade...

    From the same distillery, you will find that Tequila Tezon is one of the best tequilas you will ever taste. The reposado is the most impressive and makes a fantastic tamarind and tequila. In keeping with today's tequila market, the brand also offers blanco and añejo bottlings.

    For these, you will be paying about $30 for the blanco with a $10 increase at each of the next two levels. It is, possibly, the best value available for premium tequila.

  • 03 of 10

    Corazón Tequila

    Corazon Tequila

    Corazon Tequila

    Tequila Corazón is a great tequila for the money. Look for these stout bottles because they hold some of the smoothest, richest tequilas you'll find on the market.

    This is another tequila from Los Altos, home to the red clay soil that is distinct in the agave plants it produces. The blanco is crisp, clean, and full of that distinct agave flavor. It is everything you would hope to find in a true tequila.

    Corazón is truly affordable. The blanco can be found for less than $30 and it is one of the best options available at that price. You definitely won't mind shooting or mixing this one! It's great in every style of drink, from the elegant blue envy cocktail to the traditional sangrita shooter.

    The Upgrade...

    The tequileros at Corazón are always exploring their craft and it's definitely a brand to keep an eye on. Keep an eye out for any specialty bottling they put on the market, including the small batch Expresiones. They're a little pricier but you're sure to enjoy every sip.

  • 04 of 10

    Dos Lunas Tequila

    Dos Lunas Tequilas

    Dos Lunas Tequila

    Dos Lunas provides an exciting tequila portfolio that every tequila drinker needs to know. It's an affordable premium range of tequilas, with the añejo selling for around $50 and the blanco just $30.

    These tequilas are worth hunting down. With Dos Lunas, you can make a margarita that will impress anyone. You can also feel free to enjoy a shot of the blanco or mix up a funky shooter like the office party. The best part is that there's no guilt for having paid too much to do it.

    The Upgrade...

    Though all of Dos Lunas' tequilas offer top-shelf taste, for special occasions, you'll want to pick up the Grand Reserve bottle. This one is aged for an astounding 10 years, making it an extra-añejo. It offers an incredibly smooth sipping experience that can rival any fine whiskey.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Milagro Tequila

    Milagro Tequila Portfolio

    Milagro Tequila

    This set of stunning bottles holds some brilliant tequila. Milagro may not be the biggest name in tequila, but it is memorable.

    Milagro is one of those tequila brands that begs to be mixed up. Sure, it's nice to sip straight, but it really shines in creative mixes like el pepino and the sangrita-esque el vocho shooter.

    You will also be pleased to know that Milagro is relatively inexpensive. The silver typically runs just under $30 and that makes it one of the best cocktail buys on the market today.

    The Upgrade...

    Milagro also has a few upgrade options in their portfolio. The Barrel Reserve line includes silver, reposado, and añejo offerings as well. These have been rested or aged in both American and French oak barrels. Even the silver gets a little barrel treatment and starts the line off at a reasonable $50 or so.

  • 06 of 10

    Patrón Tequilas

    Patron Silver Tequila
    guzzphoto/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

    Patrón has a few things going for it. It is a popular tequila and you can find a bottle of Patrón Silver in almost any bar or liquor store you walk into. It is also nice to mix into any of your favorite tequila cocktails.

    The bigger question is: Is Patrón worth the $40 price tag? This is really going to depend on your personal taste. In comparison to some of the other premium tequilas, it may not be quite what you expect.

    That price is for the silver and you can expect to pay $10 more for the reposado and another $10 for the añejo. However, when it comes to a reliable, easy to find tequila, it's a great option that's enjoyable in drinks like the gold cosmopolitan and wake the dead shooter.

    The Upgrade...

    If you are a fan of Patrón, you may want to splurge on one of their ultra-premium options from time to time.

    Roca Patrón is made with the tahona wheel process and starts around $85. For a really luxurious upgrade, the Gran Patrón line is available though those can set you back $200 or more.

  • 07 of 10

    Don Eduardo Tequila

    Don Eduardo Reposado Tequila

    Brown-Forman

    Don Eduardo Tequila is a very smooth tequila and one that you can rely on finding at almost any liquor store. It is a great bargain in tequila and a fantastic one to keep in stock all the time.

    The brand's silver tequila has notes of pepper and fruits, making it the perfect option for almost any tequila drink. Their aged tequilas are also nice for cocktails and act as a perfect introduction to the refined taste reposados and añejos. Try any of these in a paloma or have a blast with the silver in a tequila slammer shot at your next party.

    Availability and price are two of Don Eduardo's strengths. The blanco runs right around $40 and it can often be found on sale for $5 to $10 less than that.

  • 08 of 10

    Tequila Herradura

    Herradura Reposado Tequila

    Brown-Forman

    Tequila Herradura is another one of those brands that should be almost everywhere you look. It is premium, but not out of touch for most bars. This is the tequila you want for a great drink every time.

    This tequila has one of the bolder flavor profiles you will find, yet it retains the smoothness that define great tequilas. This tequila will not get lost in the most flavorful cocktails, nor will it leave you cringing after a straight shot. One of the brand's recipes that is definitely worth a taste is the cinco herradura

    It is, quite simply, a great tequila and with the blanco running around $40, it's one of the better deals.

    The Upgrade...

    Herradura has some interesting upgrades in its portfolio. Most of these are limited editions and it is always a good idea to pick them up when you come across them.

    • Herradura Ultra is a blend of añejo and extra-añejo tequilas that have been filtered to a crystal clear, smooth finish. It runs around $60.
    • Colección de la Casa is an annual release in which one element in the tequila making process is changed. For the true tequila geek, this would be a fascinating collection to follow. These are typically in the $85 range and often experiments in different woods for aging.
    • Selección Suprema is an extra-añejo tequila, aged for a total of 49 months. This is the tequila you want to save for the really, really special visitors because it can run close to $400.
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Casamigos Tequila

    Casamigos Tequila

    Casamogos Tequila

    The beautiful thing about Casamigos Tequila is that it is not a bold tequila taste, it is smooth and subtle. This makes it the perfect introductory tequila for drinkers who are new to the premium market.

    It's a fantastic option for mixed drinks and you might even recognize it as the brand tagged to George Clooney. Appropriately, you'll want to try it in the Danny Ocean cocktail. It's also quite nice in a spicy paloma and the fun crouching tiger shooter.

    Another benefit is that the blanco and reposado tequilas from Casamigos are both priced under $50 a bottle. The añejo is just over that. This is a price point that is not over the top, but in reach for many drinkers, even if it is just for special occasions.

  • 10 of 10

    Don Julio Tequila

    Don Julio Reposado Tequila
    music2fish2 (eric lanning)/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    It is hard to find faults in the tequilas of Don Julio. They are readily available, super smooth, and richly flavored. They have the distinct tequila flavors that we love and their aged tequilas are particularly impressive.

    Actually, for the price differences, Don Julio Reposado and Añejo are a better deal than the brand's blanco, which seems slightly overpriced compared to its older companions. At $40 to $60 for the entire range, these are in a decent price range for the quality they offer.

    The quality of your cocktails made with any of Don Julio's tequilas is going to be significant compared to many of the alternatives. If you are looking to mix up some of the best tequila cocktails you can afford, these are the tequilas you want in your bar. One recipe you'll certainly want to try with any expression is the intriguing espaloma.

    The Upgrade...

    Fans of Don Julio will want to get a taste of the brand's two ultra-premium tequilas at some point. The 1942 and Real Extra-Añejo can top $125 and $350 respectively, but they are an experience that the true tequila aficionado will enjoy.