10 Perfect Tequila Cocktails

Margaritas? Of course. But try something new.

By Michele Foley

As summer progresses, the traffic on our Perfect Margarita recipe gets stronger. Sure, margaritas are delicious (and that recipe is especially delicious). But should we be expanding our tequila horizons? Here’s a list of tequila concoctions, some from CHOW and others from great tequila bars across the country.

1. We start with the basics: the sine qua non of margarita greatness. We’re so confident about this one that we call it the Perfect Margarita. (It helps if you follow a few simple rules.)

2. Cocktail purists balk at the idea of fruity margaritas, but the Red Chile–Guava Margarita from Public Restaurant won over hearts and minds at our New York launch party. The homemade Chile-Infused Tequila gives it a kick.

3. For a thirst-quenching drink, Adam Geenen, general manager of the Salud Tequila Lounge in Chicago, recommends the Paloma, a traditional Mexican cocktail. This one is hard to screw up: It’s just tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda—simple and delicious.

4. Legendary mixologist Dale DeGroff developed the Copa Verde, a light, creamy blend of tequila, lime, agave syrup, and avocado. In this case, blending is necessary. Degroff likes to serve this at the start of a meal—part shooter, part amuse-bouche. Is an avocado cocktail weird? Yes. But it’s not bacon.

5. Bloody Marys have long been touted as hangover cures, but try switching up the vodka for tequila and make yourself an Extra-Spicy Bloody Maria instead. Once the chile-infused tequila and Pickled Jalapeños hit your tongue, you’ll forget the pain: The capsaicin in the chiles makes your endorphins kick in.

6. San Francisco’s Tres Agaves has a concoction called Zapatos Nuevos, and new shoes is an idea we can get behind. This is like a spiked agua fresca: light and sweet.

7. A little bit tropical and a little bit spicy, the La Pinela from Rosa Mexicano is a great choice for balmy nights. The cinnamon-sugar rim classes it up a bit—or reminds us of breakfast.

8. The Mango Margarita from Karu&Y in Miami doesn’t fall too far from the margarita tree, but the fresh muddled mango gives it a tropical earthiness.

9. Duggan McDonnell, master mixologist behind San Francisco’s Cantina, gave us his recipe for the Santa Maria. It’s not too sweet, and the ginger beer and the clove-based Falernum give it an aromatic dryness.

10. Who would think to mess with the classic Manhattan by adding tequila? Nick Tarsi, the bar director at Zolo Grill in Boulder, is man enough to try it: Witness the Añejo Manhattan. We proclaim this subtly sweet and smoky pairing a newfound classic. Be sure to use a good aged tequila for this one.

Illustration by Eddie Guy

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