It might seem like the margarita is a summer drink. But, like the classic gin & tonic, there’s no wrong time of year to enjoy this delicious, vegetal, sweet combination of tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur. In fact, we might propose the idea that in the cold, dark, doldrums of winter a margarita might be exactly what the doctor ordered. That’s why it makes perfect sense that February 22nd is National Margarita Day.
James MacInnes, bar manager at KYU in Miami, Florida has a specific tequila that he likes to mix into a margarita. “I’ve always been a huge fan of Don Julio when it comes to tequila,” he says. “A split base of blanco for its crisp sweetness and anejo for the honeyed age and white oak influence makes for the perfect marg.”
Bryant Orozco, bar Manager at Madre Restaurants + Mezcaleria in Los Angeles is all about tequila neat, but will still enjoy a margarita from time to time. “I like to spread the gospel of drinking agave spirits straight, but if I really needed to, and if no one knew, and if no one was around to judge, I would totally drink a margarita with Tapatio 110.” He adds, “It’s a kick to the teeth and really showcases what tequila can be.”
In 2020, there are countless different tequila brands (each with their own pluses and minuses). It’s hard to pick just one. That’s why we decided to ask some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their go-to tequilas to mix into a Margarita.
Average Price: $37
Manuel Obregon Bernal, bartender at Adamus in Chicago
When it comes to the right tequila for a margarita, I prefer Casamigos Blanco. It does not have a bold tequila taste. It’s subtle, making it perfect for a margarita.
Average Price: $34.99
Emily Kraus, national beverage manager for Wolfgang Puck Catering
I’ll get heat for this one regardless of what I say. People are very particular and vocal about their preferred tequila in a margarita so I’ll just tell you my favorite. I think that silver tequilas — which have no aging on them — are too bright and aggressive for this delicious cocktail. Please don’t use an anejo tequila in your cocktails; the long aging process (at least a year) makes for a tequila that is meant to be sipped. Reposado (rested) tequila has just enough aging on it that the flavors are more well-rounded and perfect for mixing. Fresh lime juice pairs beautifully with vanilla and coconut notes brought out by a few months in oak barrels.
Average Price: $47.49
Liran Leibman, executive chef and beverage expert a Zizi’s in New York City
Fortaleza Blanco Tequila has a smooth mellow flavor. Yet, it still has this very authentic earthy tone that blends well with acidity and minimal sweetness. That makes it perfect for a classic margarita! It also has subtle citrus notes of its own that I love. Fortaleza Blanco is led by female distiller and uses old school methods. It’s a standout.
Average Price: $36.99
Bryn Gleason, bar manager at Mercadito in Chicago
I like to make margaritas with Herradura Silver. Though a blanco, Herradura’s youngest expression is barrel-aged longer than the industry standard for blanco tequilas, giving it a smoother, naturally sweeter flavor profile. This tequila is bold enough to shine through while also blending perfectly with the agave nectar and fresh-squeezed lime juice of a margarita. Plus, Herradura practices sustainable tequila production, so I feel good about drinking and mixing with their product.
Average Price: $47.99
Jose De Jesus Medina Camacho, bar manager at Automatic Seafood & Oysters in Birmingham, Alabama
Angelisco Reposado Tequila is a highland tequila, and naturally, it makes for a sweeter margarita. It’s some of the best tequila for mixing as they don’t add any additives to their products. Like wine, this is the Grand Cru of tequilas but still at a reasonable price.
Average Price: $49.99
Kala Ellis, bar manager at O-Ku in Nashville
An underrated but delicious tequila brand is the whole Ocho line. I can sip them solo or mix them in a margarita. They’re rather dry and vegetal with tons of bell pepper and earthiness. If you use a traditional daisy ratio for your margarita, it comes out so refreshing, crisp, and bright. I’d serve it up without ice to take full advantage of its nuances. If you use it in a Hemingway Daiquiri, you won’t regret it.
Cabo Wabo Blanco
Average Price: $30.99
Emmanuel “Manny” Pressley, bartender at Brabo Brasserie in Alexandria, Virginia
Cabo Wabo Blanco is the best tequila for mixing. It’s one of the more versatile tequilas on the market. Its boldness stands out against the sweetness and tartness in a margarita. It is smooth enough to be sipped neat. And it’s reasonably priced. I would love to see Cabo Wabo Blanco at more bars.
Average Price: $35.99
Drew Hairston, beverage director at Dirty Habit in Washington, DC
Corralejo Reposado is a wonderful tequila that works well neat or mixed into a cocktail. It has expressive notes of peach and black pepper that comes through wonderfully when working with the citrus in a margarita.
Casa Noble Reposado
Average Price: $45
Melissa Carroll, bar manager at Fisk & Co. in Chicago
Casa Noble Reposado is absolutely marvelous. A 100 percent certified organic and kosher brand, you know you are getting 100 percent blue agave and nothing else. In a world of additives, this lightly kissed French oak-aged tequila creates a warm, approachable margarita with tones that remind me of bell peppers on the finish. No salt or sugar needed on this one.
Siembra Valles High Proof Blanco
Average Price: $56
Maxwell Reis, beverage director at Gracias Madre in Los Angeles
Siembra Valles High Proof Blanco always rocks my socks in a margarita. Its higher alcohol content really lets the spirit shine out from its citrusy prison. Plus, the spirit’s ethical sourcing will let you sleep easy after you’ve taken a few down.
Average Price: $25.99
Will Witherow, bar manager at Live Oak in Alexandria, Virginia
I love to use Lunazul Reposado for a margarita. The reposado adds just enough flavor for you to know there’s Tequila in there. It’s very affordable as well, which is a good thing because no one has just one margarita.
Average Price: $24
Christa Csoka, mixologist and owner of The Artisan’s Palate in Charlotte, North Carolina
Espolon Blanco. Don’t let its affordable price fool you. It has hints of vanilla, spicy pepper and sweet fruit which pair perfectly with fresh lime juice. When shaken it has a smooth froth and an extra kick to it. When you add a floater of Grand Marnier it enhances the orange flavor of the liqueur.