The Margarita. The Sangrita. The Paloma.

Whether you love tequila or not, you probably know these drinks. But could you make them on the spot, by heart? We tapped a few experts, like bartender Jose Antonio Gomez of El Agave in San Diego—with the country’s largest selection of tequila with over 2,000 bottles—and St. Regis Hotel Mexico City’s resident bartender Rogelio Miranda, for their recipes of these classics. Commit them to memory and whenever a bottle of tequila is nearby, you’ll be ready.

Jose Antonio Gomez of El Agave

Jose Antonio Gomez of El Agave

But first, a little Tequila 101…

  • Tequila – Mexico’s beloved national spirit – can only be made from one agave plant varietal: Agave Azul aka Blue Weber.
  • Tequila must be made with at least 51% agave.
  • Tequilas with less than 100% agave are categorized as mixtos (mixed).
  • Most tequila experts agree that 100% agave tequila is superior to mixtos.
  • Tequila is classified into four main categories: blanco (unaged), reposado (aged 2-11 months), añejo (aged for at least one year), and extra añejo (aged more than three years).
  • Traditionally, lime and salt were used to make poor quality tequila palatable. Consequently, neither should be present if you’re sipping well-made tequila neat.
Tequila Cocktails

Tequila Cocktails

Now that you’ve passed Tequila 101 with flying colors, let the tippling begin with these evergreen tequila cocktails:

Paloma

Courtesy by Jose Antonio Gomez, El Agave, San Diego

This refreshing drink is Mexico’s most popular tequila cocktail and has become a mainstay on menus in the States as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 oz. Silver tequila
  • 1/4 oz. Fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. Agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup Club soda
  • Kosher Salt
  • Grapefruit Wedge, for Garnish

Preparation: Pour some kosher salt on a plate. Rub half of rim of a highball glass with a grapefruit wedge; dip rim of glass in salt. Combine fresh grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, and agave in glass; stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in tequila, add ice, and top off with club soda. Garnish with grapefruit wedge.


The Perfect Margarita

The Perfect Margarita

Perfect Margarita

Courtesy of Jose Antonio Gomez, El Agave, San Diego

Originally, it was named Daisy, which translates to ‘margarita’ in Spanish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Tequila Reposado
  • 3 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1 to 1 1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • Salt for the Rim of the Glass
  • Slice of Lime, for Garnish

Preparation: Shake all the ingredients with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker until the exterior frosts. Strain into a glass over rocks, or “up” into a martini glass. Garnish rim with a slice of lime.


Sangrita Maria

Sangrita Maria

Sangrita Maria

Courtesy of Rogelio Miranda, St. Regis Hotel, Mexico City

In Mexico, a shot of a spicy, tomato juice paired with a shot of tequila or mezcal is called a caballito (little horse). It’s traditionally served before the meal and sipped throughout. Across Mexico, each restaurant or bar has a unique version.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 oz. Premium Tequila
  • 8 1/2 oz. Cold Tomato Juice
  • 1/4 oz. Chile Pasilla Purée
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1 pinch Black Pepper
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 5 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 5 dashes Maggi® Seasoning Sauce
  • Agave Salt
  • 1 Lemon Wedge, for Garnish

Preparation: For chile pasilla purée, blend a pasilla pepper with a little water in a blender. Mix all of the ingredients, including pasilla purée, in a tall glass rimmed with agave salt. Garnish with lemon wedge.