Types of Tequila: Everything You Need to Know
Of all the types of alcohol that exist, tequila is always a top contender-even on National Cocktail Day, for all sorts of cocktails. From sipping it over ice to mixing it with other juicy ingredients, there are types of tequila for every taste and occasion. Tequila belongs in any liquor bottle display.
Let’s look at the five main types of tequila, the top five tequila drinks, and other useful details.
What Is Tequila?
Before diving into the world of of tequila, you may ask, “What is tequila?” Tequila is a distilled liquor and falls under the broader category of mezcal. It is made from blue agave plants that only grow in specific regions of Mexico, like Jalisco and Tamaulipas.
While most types of tequila are clear, you may notice that some have a brownish coloring. This means it was either aged in barrels or caramel coloring was added to give it a golden hue.
Tequila is a common liquor in Mexico and the United States. It’s also a central ingredient in many of the drinks every bartender should know.
5 Main Types of Tequila
Now that you’re familiar with what tequila is, let’s tango with the different types of tequila. While each tequila has its own unique taste, you can still use tequila for various popular cocktails.
Reposado translates into “rested.” This type of tequila rests and ages in oak or white oak barrels anywhere between two months to one year. This process gives it a light golden coloring.
Tequila reposado is great for crafting flavorful and smooth-tasting margaritas. It can enhance the taste of margaritas with fruity flavors or other syrups. But if you'd rather skip on the add-ons, it's delicious on its own.
Añejo (meaning “vintage”) tequila is slightly darker than tequila reposado because it ages in barrels between one to three years. Known for its smoother and sweeter flavor, tequila añejo is great for sipping on the rocks. It can also serve as an alternative for cocktail recipes that call for brown liquors and popular whiskey brands. Some types can be extra añejo, meaning they’re aged in oak barrels for three years or longer.
Also known as tequila silver, this type of tequila is a great candidate for any margarita. Tequila blanco normally ages for a very short period of time––often less than two weeks. This makes it the purest form of tequila. You may notice that a lightly aged tequila blanco has a slightly green hue in the bottle.
Joven (meaning ‘young’) tequila is a blend of pure and aged tequilas. Also known as gold tequila, this type normally obtains its golden color from add-on flavors like glycerin, caramel, oak-tree extracts, or sugar. Tequila joven is often less expensive and serves as a great base for mixed drinks like margaritas.
Gold tequilas usually contain about 51% agave tequila. This means the tequila gets its extra coloring from the add-ons mentioned above.
5 Top Tequila Drinks
It’s tequila-o’clock somewhere! Now that we’ve tracked down the different types of tequila, let’s look at what drinks you can make. Whether you’re looking for smooth, spicy, or bold flavors, we’ve got more than one standardized recipe below.
The most common tequila cocktail is the classic margarita. Margaritas serve as great spring cocktails and summer cocktails. Tequila blanco and tequila joven are the two tequila types that are best for mixing a bright and refreshing margarita. With just four simple ingredients and three simple steps, you’ll be sipping a classic margarita in no time.
Here are the ingredients you need for a classic margarita:
- Tequila (we recommend blanco or joven)
- Triple sec (or cointreau)
- Lime juice
- Ice cubes
Once you gather your ingredients, it’s time to make your margarita:
- Salt the rim: Gently slide a lime wedge along the edge of your glass. Place some salt on a small plate. Flip your glass upside down and twist it in the salt. Salt enhances your margarita’s sweet and sour flavors.
- Shake up your ingredients: Mix your ingredients together in a cocktail shaker and shake them up. Feeling like a bartender yet? This is one of the most fun bartender duties.
- Strain into your glass: Strain the drink into your glass. Add a few ice cubes to keep it cool. If you want an extra garnish, add a lime wedge to the edge of your glass.
Simple enough, right? Now all you have to do is sit back, sip, and relax. If you want to experiment with different flavors, consider blending in fruits like mango or pineapple. For spicy flavors, play around with jalapeño or cayenne.
Want a light bite to pair with your margarita? Try making some of the best Mexican food appetizers to satisfy your palette.
If you’re looking for sweet sunshine in a glass, you can’t go wrong with a tasty tequila sunrise. With the right tequila and some fresh orange juice, you’ll be sipping sunrise in no time.
Here’s what you’ll need to make a simple tequila sunrise:
- Tequila (we recommend blanco or reposado)
- Orange juice
Follow the steps below to make your tequila sunrise:
- Mix your ingredients: Blend together your tequila, orange juice, and ice in a tall glass. Add a little lime if you want a touch of tartness.
- Add the grenadine: Pour in grenadine and let it settle at the bottom.
Who knew vitamin D could taste so good with a little tequila? Make your tequila sunrise festive by garnishing it with an orange slice on the edge of your glass.
If you’re looking for a cocktail that blends sweet and bitter, a paloma might just be the tequila drink for you.
Grab the following ingredients to craft the perfect paloma:
- Tequila (we recommend blanco)
- Grapefruit juice
- Soda water
- Maple syrup or simple syrup
- Lime juice
Once you’ve got what you need, follow these simple steps to make a paloma:
- Salt the rim: Gently slide a grapefruit wedge along the edge of your glass. Put salt on a small plate. Flip your glass upside down and twist it in the salt. Salt offers an extra flair of flavor and an effortless garnish.
- Mix your ingredients: Blend together your tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and syrup into your glass.
- Add ice and soda water: Toss in a few ice cubes and add a splash of soda water (see: what is club soda). Add a grapefruit wedge at the edge of your glass as a nice garnish.
A paloma is a great option if you’re craving something slightly fruity and want to try something new aside from a classic margarita.
You’re likely familiar with a whiskey sour. But have you ever considered making a tequila sour? If so, we’ve got the recipe for you!
Gather the ingredients below to get started:
- Tequila (we recommend reposado)
- Agave or simple syrup
- Angostura bitters
- Egg white
- Lime juice
- Lemon juice
Ready to go? Here’s how to make your tequila sour:
- Shake your ingredients: Place all of your ingredients (except ice) into a cocktail shaker. Shake for 15 seconds.This helps create the egg white foam on top of the drink for an extra creamy flavor.
- Add ice and shake: Add ice to the shaker. Shake for another 30 seconds.
- Strain into your glass: Strain the drink into your glass. Garnish your delicious cocktail with a cherry to add a fun flair.
Satisfied with your tequila sour? Once you run out, repeat steps one through three to make more!
Mix it up with a Mexican mule. This is one of the easiest tequila cocktails to make, blending together refreshing hints of citrus and ginger to satisfy every taste bud.
Here’s what you need for a Mexican mule:
- Tequila (we recommend reposado, blanco, or añejo)
- Ginger beer
- Lime juice
Got your four ingredients? Make your Mexican mule in just two steps:
- Mix your ingredients: Pour your tequila, lime juice, and ginger beer into a glass or copper mug. Copper mugs are the classic serving glass for any mule.
- Add the ice: Toss in a few ice cubes to chill your drink. Garnish your finished Mexican mule with a lime and enjoy!
We recommend adhering to a standard liquor pour for all the drinks above. While you can add more tequila to make your drink a little stronger, do so with caution.
Once you’ve had your tequila fix, feel free to store your tequila bottle for the future. But you may ask yourself, “Does alcohol expire?”
Unlike other liquors, tequila doesn’t have an expiration date. However, be sure to follow common bartender duties by using each bottle of tequila within one year.
At the time this blog post was published, May was just around the corner! During that time of year, you may see some of these tequila drinks appear at places offering Cinco de Mayo restaurant specials.
Frequently Asked Questions About Types of Tequila
What Is The Most Popular Tequila?
Tequila blanco is one of the most popular types of tequila because it is used for mixed drinks like margaritas. Don Julio is a common tequila brand for tequila blanco.
What Tequila Is The Smoothest?
Tequila añejo is the smoothest type of tequila because it ages between one to three years. It is great for sipping and is normally darker than a tequila reposado.
Which Tequila Is The Healthiest?
Tequila blanco is considered the healthiest tequila because it is normally 100% agave. Other tequilas often have additives like caramel flavoring or glycerin.