Don't get us wrong, we’re fans of margaritas, especially when they’re made properly. But tequila is an extremely versatile spirit — you can make boozy, stirred tequila drinks; bright, fruity tequila day-drinks; and so much more. In celebrating Cinco de Mayo, let’s check out three great tequila drinks beyond the margarita.
Easy: The Paloma
If the world were a just place, the Paloma would be just as popular as the margarita. Grapefruit, tequila, and soda are simply an unbeatable combination. If you’re throwing a Cinco de Mayo party, you can go the dead-simple route and just stir together tequila and grapefruit soda over ice — but we prefer this slightly more involved version, made with fresh grapefruit juice.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine two ounces of silver tequila, one ounce of fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice, and half an ounce of agave syrup (equal part light agave cut with hot water and stirred until it’s dissolved). Shake that all up hard, and strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with two ounces of club soda, and garnish with a grapefruit half moon.
Intermediate: Tequila Manhattan
In the world of stiff, stirred drinks, we’re usually using vodka or gin in martinis, bourbon or rye in Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. But tequila makes an incredible Manhattan, too. The secrets: 1. Use a reposado tequila, with a little age on it; 2. use a high-quality vermouth like Carpano Antica; 3. stir for a good long time, until it’s very well-chilled and the ice starts to melt.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine 2 ounces of reposado tequila, an ounce of Carpano Antica vermouth, and a dash of Angostura bitters. Stir all that up until very well-chilled and the ice begins to melt. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime peel, making sure to twist it over the surface of the drink to spray its citrus oils on top.
Advanced: Rosemary & Pineapple
Tequila pairs so well with fruit flavors, and we particularly love it with fresh pineapple. Using rosemary in here, too, adds a cool herbal element. The secret is shaking up the cocktail with rosemary, and then using another sprig as a garnish. Pro tip: Before you garnish with rosemary, give it a hard smack. That releases the essential oils and makes it even more aromatic.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 2 ounces of silver tequila, two ounces of pineapple juice (the fresher, the better),1/2 ounce of agave syrup (equal part light agave cut with hot water and stirred until it’s dissolved), and one dash of orange bitters. Throw a full sprig of rosemary in there. Shake all that up well, then double strain — through the cocktail shaker’s own strainer, and through a fine mesh strainer — into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.