Tequila Drinks that Aren’t Margaritas
Tequila is one of the most popular spirits, but plenty of people still don’t know what tequila drinks to order at the bar. Folks generally know that it tastes good with citrus, specifically lime. That leads to a lot of Margarita orders at the bar, despite there being plenty of other options to explore.
“A well-made Tequila Sunrise is a highly under-appreciated cocktail,” says Rachel Kling, bartender at the Quill at The Jefferson. “If made with authentic grenadine (a rich pomegranate syrup) and fresh orange juice, it is a perfect refresher on a warm day.” She also suggests using an aged tequila like Casa Noble’s reposado, which “enhances the profile of a previously tired favorite.”
Tequila Old Fashioned
“Old Fashioneds with añejo tequila are very underrated, and I’m surprised more people don’t go in that direction,” says Joel Mesa, beverage manager of Pisco y Nazca. “This is a great cocktail that has all the complexity and warmth necessary when using a premium brand of tequila.”
Swap gin for tequila in a standard Negroni, and you have a winner, says Samuel Ortiz, bartender at Public Belt bar and lounge at Hilton New Orleans Riverside. “It’s a fun cocktail to make, and it has a far more interesting flavor profile than a Margarita.”
Sometimes keeping it extra simple is the way to go. “One of my favorite things to drink is a neat shot of blanco tequila and a cold lager,” Mesa says. “I call that Catching Up because that’s exactly what it’s going to accomplish if you arrive at a party late.”
Naked and Famous
“Naked and Famous is from Joaquin Simo and is an equal parts drink with mezcal, green Chartreuse, Aperol and lime juice,” says Chris Resnick, lead bartender at Minnow Bar. “Absolutely delicious.”
“It’s summer and I unapologetically drink frozen Margaritas on rooftops like it’s my job, but when I choose to deviate from that, my go-to is the tequila twist on a classic Moscow Mule,” says Nico Szymanski, head Bartender at Mr. Purple at Hotel Indigo Lower East Side. “It’s light and refreshing, and the ginger kick keeps it crisp enough to not weigh you down like the sweeter and heavier Margarita.”
The Paloma deserves to be more than a second fiddle. The stirred combination of tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda is just as refreshing as a margarita. Skip the overly sweet and syrupy supermarket sodas by making your own base of grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and club soda. And to give your cocktail some smoke in no time, try grilling your citrus or substituting tequila for mezcal.