Tequila

Making tequila is a long process that typically takes five to eight years and is subject to a lot of regulations. Producers must used the blue agave plant (one of 200 varieties in Mexico) and can only produce tequila in certain states—mainly Jalisco. But all that hard work and care that goes into the tequila-making process shows up in the final spirit. A good tequila should be rich and smooth with spicy, complex flavors behind the alcohol. F&W's guide explores refreshing ways to enjoy this spirit and tips about the best brands to try.

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Top 10 Blanco Tequilas

If you blithely follow the interwebs, you may have come to the conclusion that tequila is a miracle drink. In the past year, stories have bounced around about the wonders of Mexico’s most famous spirit: It’ll help you lose weight, improve the bacteria in your gut, lower blood sugar levels, fight cholesterol and even reduce your chances of developing dementia. Most of these claims, unfortunately, are boneheaded. And, honestly, declaring any 80-proof liquor to be “good for you” is mighty suspect in the first place.However, there is a tiny shred of truth to the idea that tequila won’t damage you as cavalierly as some other spirits might. One hundred percent blue agave blanco tequilas—which, unlike reposados or añejos, aren’t aged in wood—are low in congeners, the chemical impurities that are hard for your system to process and can exacerbate hangovers. Also, since these tequilas are made solely from a succulent plant and not a grain, the gluten-averse among us can relax. But will tequila make you thinner? Well...it has no fewer calories than any other spirit of equal strength. But if you drink it straight, at least you’re not adding any calories. And our favorite bottles, featured here, all taste fantastic in a glass by themselves, with a rock or without. —Ray Isle

Essential Blanco Tequilas to Stock in Your Liquor Cabinet

Vital for margaritas, for palomas, and for the occasional shot, blanco tequila is a workhorse; your liquor cabinet isn’t complete without it. So for National Tequila Day, we’re bringing you our favorites. Lightly aged reposado and long-aged añejo are entirely different animals, but for the moment, we’ll concentrate on the best unaged tequila. Here are twelve of the best. —Carey Jones

Verbena-Infused Tequila and Tonic

This fresh cocktail balances light citrus and herbal notes from the infused syrup with bubbly club soda and smooth blanco tequila. Substitute gin for a more prominent botanical flavor.

Our 16 Best Tequila Cocktails

From refreshing watermelon cocktails to red sangria, here are our best tequila cocktails. We've got delicious recipes for every occasion, whether you're picnicking in the park or relaxing at the beach or just hanging out t home. And don't worry—margaritas are also included.

Ruby Red Pamplemousse Paloma

Giffard Crème de Pamplemousse Rose liqueur has a concentrated grapefruit flavor, with a gentle bitterness from the pith and plenty of citrus sweetness from the fruit. It adds complexity to this paloma-esque cocktail, rounding out the fresh juices with enough sweetness to balance each drink.

More Tequila

Frozen Cucumber Margaritas with Chili-Sumac Salt

August is the laziest month, in the best possible way. It seems to move a little slower than the other months of the year—in theory because of the heat, in fact because so many people are on vacation. It’s sluggish, languid even, but always welcoming. (After all, it’s far more fun to be lazy with friends.) All of that makes August, in my mind, the best month for leisurely dinners outside, for grilling in the backyard or by the beach or the lake, for cooking unfussy food. This means, of course, that it’s also prime frozen cocktail season.My most recent slushy obsession is a tequila, cucumber, and coconut water creation, blended up with cilantro and lime and rimmed with a mix of chili powder, sumac, and salt. It’s an ode to my favorite Mexican street snack: fruta con chile y limón, little bags of sliced mango, cucumber, and jicama usually sprinkled with Tajín, a spicy and sour snack seasoning. I make the icy concoction in big batches, and it never lasts very long, but a little advance prep and direction empowers my guests to blend more themselves without disturbing my valuable chill time. I peel and chop several cucumbers in advance, portion them out, and freeze them before guests arrive; squeeze lots of lime into a bowl; and chop an extra-big bunch of herbs on the side. The chili-salt mixture sits on a plate on the counter for people to sprinkle and rim as they please. And any extra doubles as seasoning for crunchy veggies, grilled corn on the cob, or a platter of watermelon. It’s August at its best.

Watermelon-Tequila Cocktails

When watermelon is in abundance, this is a great way to use it. Bobby Flay purees seedless watermelon chunks, then strains the juice through a sieve and mixes it with silver tequila, sugar syrup, blueberries, mint and fresh lime juice.Slideshow: More Summer Drinks

Green Goddess Sangrita

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Joaquín Simó, co-owner of Pouring Ribbons in New York City, created this spicy-sweet take on sangrita, the typically tomato-based chaser for tequila. "The combination of tequila and sangrita is designed to be sipped, not shot," Simó says. "It can be consumed pretty much any time you're relaxing with friends."Slideshow: More Easy Cocktail RecipesThis recipe originally appeared in the Food & Wine 2016 Cocktails book.