Whether you prefer a classic margarita, the beloved Paloma, or on the rocks, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy a refreshing tequila drink. America’s long love affair with the spirit began nearly 200 years ago, allegedly during the Mexican-American War. However, the tequila we drink these days is far better quality.
Like champagne, though, regulations state companies may only call tequila “tequila” if it’s distilled in a certain location. Mexican laws state that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and a few other areas. This is because the soil and climate of these regions affects the final taste of the product. Though the blue Weber agave plant from which tequila is distilled grows in other regions, any spirits made in those regions legally can’t be called tequila.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the spirit, which people blame for bad decisions and ruthless hangovers. Despite its reputation, it’s one of the most popular spirits in the United States today. This is because this is one instance in which brand does matter. Higher-quality tequila is much less likely to produce head-splitting hangovers. This is because it’s 100% agave. Lower-quality tequilas have fillers like extra sugar and artificial coloring, which is usually the culprit behind those next-morning regrets.
In fact, one of the most popular tequilas don’t have any color at all. Tequila enthusiasts consider silver or “blanco” tequila an essential component of any liquor cabinet. It’s name comes from its clear (“silver”) appearance. Unlike darker spirits like whiskey or bourbon, blanco tequila isn’t aged at all. Since it’s tequila in the purest form, you can expect complex flavor balanced by sweetness from the agave it’s distilled from.
If all that has made you thirsty for a margarita, you’re in luck. Our friends over at Smart Money Savers have put together a list of the best blanco tequilas under $50, with options for all budgets and tastes!
Though the margarita is undeniably popular in the U.S., Mexico’s tequila drink of choice is the paloma. Here’s how to make this simple, refreshing cocktail.
Easy Paloma Recipe
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (optional, for a salt rim)
- Grapefruit or lime wedges (optional)
- ¼ cup (2 ounces) 100% agave blanco tequila
- ¼ cup (2 ounces, from ½ grapefruit) freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoon (½ ounce) freshly squeezed lime juice
- ½ cup (4 ounces) grapefruit soda—Jarritos is a popular option, but you can also substitute Fresca, Squirt, or even La Croix (you just might need to add a little simple syrup or agave nectar if you’re using a seltzer)
For salt rim (optional): Pour 1 tablespoon of salt into a small dish. Use lime or grapefruit wedge to moisten the rim of a tall glass. Dip the rim of the glass into the salt, turning as needed to coat.
Fill your glass with ice. Then, add tequila, grapefruit juice, and lime juice, stirring to combine. (This is also where you should add simple syrup, if using.) Pour grapefruit soda over the drink, then use grapefruit or lime wedge to garnish.