It’s no secret that tequila is having a serious moment right now, with anyone who’s anyone releasing their own line of the spirit and designated tequila menus popping up in the world’s best bars. With this Saturday marking National Tequila Day, we have rounded up our favorite tequila cocktails for you to try at home.
For those not yet clued up on the spirit of the moment, tequila is produced using the juice of the agave plant which thrives in warmer, subtropical climates. Similar to champagne and certain whiskies, tequila production is limited to a designated area – in this case, primarily the Jalisco region of Mexico, although a few other regions do produce in smaller quantities.
Although the margarita is undoubtedly the queen of tequila cocktails, the liquid is impressively versatile and can be used to substitute vodka, gin and even rum in your favorite classics. For example, switching gin out for tequila in a negroni gives an intriguing smokey twist, while using tequila in place of vodka for a cosmopolitan is another growing request.
Our list of the best cocktails to try on National Tequila Day features some unique twists on the classic margarita, as well as a few alternative pours from our favorite hotels, resorts and bars from around the world. Salud!
[See also: The Best Sipping Tequila Brands in the World]
Red Hot Chili Pepper by Hilton Stucky Molino
Tequila and a kick of chili heat is a match made in heaven; add a touch of citrus and you’re delivering a serious punch. Created by Hilton Stucky Molino’s bar manager Gabriele Cusimano, the Red Hot Chili Pepper (pictured above) is certainly not for the faint-hearted and offers a fiery twist on a classic recipe. Although we’d all like to be sipping cocktails on National Tequila Day while absorbing the views from Hilton Stucky Molino’s rooftop bar (which is the highest in all of Venice), the hotel has shared the recipe to recreate at home for those who can’t be there in person.
- Tequila Reposado 45 ml
- Pineapple juice 45 ml
- Fresh Lime Juice 25 ml
- Agave nectar 15 ml
- 1 small Red Chilli Pepper
Cover the rim of a coupe glass with mixed salt and spicy chili. Shake all ingredients together and double strain into the glass.
El Durazno Guero by La Calenda
While The French Laundry and Per Se might be Thomas Keller’s most famous restaurants, the chef’s Mexican-inspired outpost is equally as inviting. Under the helm of chef de cuisine Kaelin Ulrich Trilling, La Calenda offers a fresh menu of classic Mexican dishes such as tacos, quesadillas and totopos in a more informal, snacky format than Keller’s flagship restaurants. As any good Mexican restaurant should, La Calenda has a hefty tequila and mezcal menu, as well as some serious cocktails. The El Durazno recipe comes from the restaurant’s general manager Eric Jefferson, who elevates sweet agave with a touch of thyme.
- 2 oz Casa Dragones Blanco
- 2 oz white peach puree
- ¾ oz lemon juice
- ¼ oz thyme-infused agave syrup
- 1 spring of fresh thyme, for garnish
- 2 cups agave syrup
- 10 springs of fresh thyme
Thyme syrup: Add the sprigs of fresh thyme to the agave syrup and refrigerate overnight. Strain before using.
To make the cocktail, mix all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.
Strawberry Fields by Patrón Silver
While tequila might be having a moment right now, Patrón has long been regarded as the go-to by those in the know. The premium tequila is crystal clear, with a smooth and sweet taste lending into a peppery finish. The sweetness of Patrón Silver has the potential to be overwhelming when paired with syrupy strawberries, but in the Strawberry Fields cocktail, the touch of sour lemon and vinegary balsamic cut through perfectly.
- 1½ oz PatrónSilver
- ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
- ¾ oz honey syrup
- 1 egg white
- 3 strawberries
- Balsamic vinegar for garnish
Honey syrup: Combine equal parts honey and warm water, stirring until the honey is dissolved thoroughly.
Muddle strawberries and honey syrup in a mixing tin. Add Patrón Silver, lemon juice and egg white before shaking vigorously with ice. Using a fine strainer, strain the liquid back into the small shaker tin. Cap with large tin and “dry shake” (without ice) to further emulsify the cocktail. Strain into the chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with sliced strawberry.
[See also: Moving Up in the World: Luxury Tequilas Fit for the Top Shelf]
Watermelon Mint Margarita by Código 1530
Utilizing a secret family recipe that supposedly dates back to 1530 (hence the name), Código 1530 is dedicated to creating an all-natural tequila that allows the subtle sweetness of agave to shine through without the use of any additives or flavoring. For the Watermelon Mint Margarita, which was all but designed for a hot summer’s day, Código calls on its Rosa Tequila, which starts its life as bianco but is left to rest in Napa Valley red wine barrels to give its subtle pink hue.
- 2 oz Código 1530 Rosa Tequila
- 3 oz pressed watermelon juice
- ¾ oz lime juice
- ¼ oz agave nectar
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add in the watermelon juice, tequila, lime juice and agave nectar. Shake for 30 seconds before pouring into a glass and garnishing with watermelon slices.
Fig Leaf by Mace, New York
Having been featured in the World’s 50 Best Bars list three times, Mace has become a staple on the New York cocktail scene. The bar recently reopened in a new location in the West Village following a year’s closure and is welcoming guests old and new to try its impressive menu of sharing dishes and small plates (including a serious seafood offering). However, the cocktails are the main attraction at Mace, with each offering some seriously intriguing flavor combinations, such as chaga mushrooms and medjool dates, or caramelized onion and sweet vermouth. For National Tequila Day, the bar has shared the recipe for one of its most unusual cocktails: the Fig Leaf combines mezcal and tequila with beetroot and tomato. One for the more adventurous palette, we think.
- 1 oz Fig Leaf infused Mezcal
- 1 oz tequila
- 1 oz golden beet & tomato cordial
Add all ingredients to mixing glass. Add ice and stir for about 30 seconds. Strain into a Nic and Nora glass and garnish with a golden beet slice.
Tommy’s Basil Margarita by Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo
With ocean views, glitzy interiors courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld himself and a roster of A-list clientele, Hotel Metropole is top of the list of places to stay in Monte-Carlo. As standard in such a prestigious property, Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo’s cocktail menu is second-to-none, with a signature menu that can be enjoyed in its multiple restaurants and bars. This National Tequila Day, try out the hotel’s Tommy’s Basil Margarita which offers an aromatic twist on the classic.
- 1½ oz Tequila Milagro
- ¾ oz lime juice
- ⅓ oz Cointreau
- ⅓ oz agave honey
- 2 basil leaves
- ⅓ oz egg white
Add Tequila Milagro, lime juice, Cointreau, agave honey, basil leaves and egg white into a shaker and dry shake until a foam is created. Add ice and shake again strain into a martini glass and decorate with basil leaves or lime zest and salt if desired.
Velas Margarita by Velas Resorts
Naturally where we’d really like to be celebrating National Tequila Day is at one of Velas’ ultra-luxe Mexico resorts, poolside with a cocktail in hand – it is the country’s national drink, after all. However, recreating the delicious Velas Margarita at home is a fair consolation prize. Teaming vibrant Grand Marnier and passionfruit pulp with rich coconut cream, this tequila cocktail recipe is decidedly tropical and will make for the perfect July sundowner.
- 1 ½ oz Espolòn Silver Tequila
- 1 oz Grand Marnier
- 1 oz passionfruit pulp
- ¾ oz coconut cream
- 1 oz lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice then shake. Serve margarita in an old fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with orange peel and grated coconut then serve.
Hacienda de Lavender Margarita
The award-winning Herradura Reposad0 – which lays claim to being the first-ever commercially available reposado – is aged for 11 months in oak barrels to achieve its bold flavor profile and its caramel hue. To cut through the boldness of this complex tequila, mixologist Jarrett Holborough adds a touch of lavender for a fresh and refreshing margarita recipe.
- 2 oz Herradura Reposado
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1 oz lavender syrup
- ¼ oz orange juice
- pinch of salt
Add all ingredients into a shaker. Add ice, shake, and strain over ice into a rocks glass. To finish, garnish with two pieces of lavender.