Historically speaking, tequila hasn’t really gotten the respect it deserves as a sipping spirit. Perhaps because of too many faded memories of brutal, cheap tequila shots taken with a wedge of lime. Or maybe because there are so many great mixed tequila drinks — from margaritas to palomas — that it’s easy to forget all the great sipping tequilas out there. That changes now.
If you’ve never enjoyed a glass of tequila neat or on the rocks, you’re missing out on a complex, vegetal, flavorful experience. Just ask Kevin Moran, general manager at Seagar’s Prime in South Walton, Florida, who reps hard for Don Julio 1942.
“1942 is 100% Agave and from Jalisco,” he says. “This añejo tequila is aged a minimum of two and a half years in oak, giving it a distinctive sweet vanilla character. No need for lime and salt thank you, this is a ‘sipping’ bottle.”
If you don’t have any qualified sippers on hand, it’s time to order a few bottles for Easter weekend delivery. If you’re stumped on what to get, don’t worry — some of our favorite bartenders have your back.
Clase Azul Reposado
Joseph Palminteri, director of food and beverages at Via Sophia in Washington DC
My go-to tequila in Clase Azul Reposado. It’s an ultra-premium reposado tequila made with Tequilana Weber Blue Agave that is slow-cooked in traditional stone ovens for a minimum of 72 hours. Once the agave reaches a deep, rich flavor, it is fermented with proprietary yeast prior to distillation. Once the tequila is distilled, it is aged for 8 months in hand-selected oak barrels. This process results in a superb, smooth taste that exceeds expectations with each sip.
Nate Simmons, bartender at Garden & Grain in Pensacola, Florida
Tequila Fortaleza from Tequila, Mexico. This brand is everything that is right about craft spirits. Family brand, years of experience, the best ingredients, and prepared the right way. The blanco, reposado, anejo, and the still strength are all great to enjoy neat.
Tequila Ocho Extra Anejo
Mazzarie Parker, bar manager of Maypop Restaurant in New Orleans
Tequila Ocho Extra Anejo was the first high-end tequila that truly changed the way I thought of tequila. You can taste the notes of peaches and apricots balanced with warm baking spices; a level of elegance and complexity that made me appreciate tequila in a whole new light. I’ve always been someone who will shoot tequila (with salt, lime, and dread), but this tequila is truly a treat.
Don Suenos Anejo
Bryan Long, assistant director of food & beverage at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in Palm Beach, Florida
The best tequila is Don Suenos Anejo. This anejo has a smooth finish with hints of citrus and vanilla, with grassy undertones and a final touch of pepper. The small family farm out of Jalisco has been producing agave for 43 years.
Don Julio Anejo
Miki Nikolic, beverage director at The Double Dealer in New Orleans
I love honey and vanilla. That’s why I have to say Don Julio Anejo. It has a rich taste that I haven’t been able to find in another tequila.
Cody Dillon, general manager at Florblanca in Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
The best sipping tequila is Espolon. The anejo and super anejo offer a consumer-friendly price point and drinkability. I enjoy drinking the anejo on the rocks with a squeeze of fresh lime.
Courtney Everett, bartender at O-Ku Sushi in Atlanta
I like Casamigos Blanco and Herradura Reposado. They’re both delicious and great to sip over ice. They’re both good quality, but for the price point, I usually stick to Herradura.
Josh Saphier, bartender at Eighteen36 in Houston
When enjoying tequila neat I typically go with an anjeo. I enjoy the 123 Tequila Anejo. Certified organic and bottled at the estate. This tequila is rich in flavor, super smooth, no burn at all and as you let it open up, more and more flavors present themselves.
Roca Patron Silver
Josh Streetman, bartender at Motor Supply Co. in Columbia, South Carolina
Tequila for me is best enjoyed either in an unaged silver or blanco style or extra anejo at three years or older. For the former go for a single estate Patron or Roca Silver. Also, Arte Nom which is the highest elevation production available, if you can find it. On the latter side, I like Avion Reserva 44 and Tears of Llorona.
Don Julio 1942
Natalie Migliarini, the mixologist behind Beautiful Booze on Instagram
Don Julio 1942 tequila. This is my go-to celebration tequila but who needs a celebration these days to drink some liquid gold. I enjoy the roasted agave notes as well as the hints of vanilla.
Qui Extra Anejo
Piero Procida, bartender at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles
Qui Extra Anejo tequila, by far. There are many great tequilas out there, but an inexpensive price point and very high-quality product puts this tequila as one of my favorites and the best in my opinion. The quality is superb and on par with many high-level tequilas. It is smooth enough to drink by itself as a sipping tequila and being an extra anejo you certainly do not want to alter the flavor with anything else but to simply enjoy by itself.