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February 16, 2024

23 Best Tequila Cocktails You Can Make on National Margarita Day

Maybe you dabbled in Dry January to rethink how you drink. There’s never been a better time to play with nonalcoholic drinks, with a slew of excellent non-alcoholic beersnon-alcoholic spirits, and non-alcoholic wines available. But if you’re dipping your toe back into the water (shall we call it Damp February?), set your sights on February 22 for National Margarita Day. Whether you’re thirsty for margarita variations or new recipes to mix up at home, we have 23 tequila cocktails for you to choose among.

National Margarita Day pays homage to the iconic tequila cocktail that’s become a staple in bars and homes alike, encouraging bartenders and amateur mixologists to get creative.

Tequila, at the heart of any good margarita, is a versatile and dynamic spirit in its own right, which transcends seasonal boundaries. The best tequila cocktails can range from the refreshing and citrusy creations that dominate summer gatherings to warm and spiced creations that provide comfort during the colder months. 

From crisp blanco to aged varieties like reposado, añejo, extra añejo, and cristallino, the Mexican agave spirit adapts seamlessly to the changing seasons, ensuring there’s a tequila cocktail for every palate, occasion, and budget (yes, there are plenty of great but cheap tequilas). 

As National Margarita Day approaches, now’s the perfect opportunity to expand your horizons. We tapped top mixologists to come up with a list of the best tequila cocktails, easy tequila cocktails, and classic tequila cocktails. You’ll find loads of margarita variations, whether you like yours smoky, spicy, sweet, or perfectly balanced. Scroll down for a primer on the best tequila for margaritas depending on the cocktail or flavor profile you want to achieve.

Best Tequila Cocktails

Sin Rosto

M. Cooper Creative

“Sin Rostro is the crazy, face-swapping crime boss on the American telenovela Jane the Virgin,” says Sammi Katz, co-author of the book Cocktails in Color. The name literally translates to “faceless” in English. “This is a refreshing tequila cocktail that features tamarind for sourness, rounded out by pear eau-de-vie. It’s great for the adventurous margarita-lover.”

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz tequila, like , which we awarded the best tequila for margaritas
  • .5 oz lime juice
  • .5 oz tamarind cordial, preferably
  • .5 oz demerara syrup*
  • .325 oz pear brandy

Instructions

  1. Make demerara syrup.
  2. Rim a Nick and Nora glass with salt.
  3. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.
  4. Shake, then double strain into the glass.

For the Demerara Syrup*Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup demerara sugar

Instructions

  1. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.
  2. Stir until the sugar fully dissolves. 
  3. Let cool.

Winter Margarita

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This wintry take on a margarita is the perfect easy tequila cocktail to perfect this season. Cantera Negra Reposado and fresh lime and blood orange juice are complemented by a flavorful winter spice rim.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Cantera Negra Reposado Tequila
  • 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz fresh blood orange juice
  • 0.5 oz agave syrup
  • 0.75 tsp vanilla extract
  • Winter spice mix, for rim*

Instructions

  1. Rim a rocks glass with winter spice mix.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except spice mix, in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into prepped rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

For the Winter Spice Mix*Ingredients

  • .5 tsp salt
  • .5 tsp sugar
  • .25 tsp cinnamon
  • .25 tsp chili powder

Foolish Pleasures

Allison Weber Photography

You’ve never had a margarita like this before. “We play off the beautiful vegetal notes of blanco tequila with jalapeño, melon, and a touch of Jamaican white rum,” says Kevin Diedrich of Pacific Cocktail Haven in San Francisco, CA. “A touch of nuttiness from the orgeat pulls this crushable cocktail together.”

Ingredients

  • 1.75 oz honeydew-melon-cucumber-infused blanco tequila*
  • .25 oz
  • .75 oz lime
  • .5 oz jalapeño syrup**
  • .5 oz orgeat, like Liber & Co. Almond Orgeat Syrup
  • 1 dash absinthe

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake and double strain into a double rocks glass with fresh ice.
  3. Garnish with a cucumber ribbon and a skewer with honeydew and watermelon balls.

For the Cucumber-Melon Blanco Tequila*Ingredients

  • 500g honey dew melon, cubed
  • 120g cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1 750ml bottle of blanco tequila, like

Instructions

  1. Add honeydew to tequila and let sit for 12 hours.
  2. After 12 hours, add cucumber, and let sit for one more hour.
  3. Strain tequila through an oil filter. 
  4. Bottle, date, and store in the fridge.

For the Jalapeño Syrup**Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 jalapeños
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Cut jalapeños into discs, removing the seeds.
  2. Bring water to a simmer and add sugar, stirring until dissolved.
  3. Add jalapeños to the pot and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, then use a hand blender to blend the jalapeños with the syrup in the pot. 
  5. Blanch the pot in an ice bath to retain the syrup’s color. Let sit until cool, around 15 minutes.
  6. Strain the jalapeños with a fine strainer. 
  7. Label and date syrup, which should stay fresh for two to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Agave Perfect Martini

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“The Agave Perfect Martini is an aromatic concoction that perfectly combines agave, herbs, spices, and roots from the vermouth blend,” says Guy Bergès, owner of Maison Artemisia cocktail bar in Mexico City. The agave-based martini combines old world (vermouth) with new world (tequila).

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add the tequila, vermouths, and orange bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir until cold.
  2. Strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass.
  3. Garnish with an orange peel cut in a circle.

Tres Leches

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As the name suggests, this cocktail pays homage to tres leches cake. “Añejo and reposado tequilas provide body, while cinnamon syrup and Amaro CioCiaro give warming Christmas-y notes,” says Sammi Katz, who created this cocktail for the menu at Tres Leches in Ithaca, NY. “The three milks used are evaporated, sweetened condensed, and oat, creating an indulgent dessert cocktail that doesn’t feel too heavy.” 

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Pour into a snifter glass and garnish with grated nutmeg.

For the Tres Leches Mix*Ingredients

  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
  • 8oz oat milk

Instructions

  1. Combine milks and whisk until smooth.

For the Cinnamon Syrup**Ingredients

  • 4 cinnamon sticks 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup demerara sugar

Directions

  1. Using a muddler or a wooden spoon, gently crush the cinnamon in a heavy-bottomed pot.
  2. Add water and bring to a simmer over low heat.
  3. Add the sugar and stir until fully dissolved.
  4. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 more minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and fine-strain, then cool.
  6. Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Spicy Passion

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Spicy Passion elevates the spicy marg by incorporating passionfruit, ginger liqueur, and a fiery kick from habanero. “Balanced with lime juice, homemade mango-cardamom syrup, and triple sec, it’s a symphony of sweet, spicy, and tangy flavors,” says Sayora Khamidova, general manager of JIMMY in New York, NY.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, except garnish, in a shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well, then pour over fresh ice in a tajín-rimmed rocks glass.
  3. Garnish with a lime wheel, diced dried mango, and diced caramelized ginger.

Green Mango Martini

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“The Green Mango Martini is inspired by the subway vendors who sell mangoes with a dash of tajín,” says Ignacio “Nacho” Jimenez, owner of Superbueno in New York, NY. “You have the freshness of mango from the infused , then a slight kick of heat from the chili oil garnish.”

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Make green mango-infused tequila and honey syrup.
  2. Add ingredients together in a mixing glass with ice.
  3. Stir with a bar spoon until cold.
  4. Strain into a Nick & Nora glass.
  5. Garnish with an eyedropper of chili oil.

For the Patrón Mango InfusionIngredients

Instructions

  1. Add mangoes to a large container with tequila.
  2. Infuse overnight or up to 24 hours.
  3. Strain and funnel back into the Patrón Silver bottle or a similarly sized container.

For the Honey SyrupIngredients

  • 1/2 cup (4oz) honey 
  • 1/2 cup (4oz) water

Instructions

  1. Combine honey and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves.

Tepache Jungle Bird

Jakob Layman

“This is a split base mezcal and tequila cocktail that utilizes tepache, which has baking spices further expressed with five-spice bitters,” says Davey Saranatos, bar lead at Majordomo in Los Angeles, CA. “The pineapple flavor is enhanced by infusing the Italian Red Bitter Caffo with pineapple for two days, and we use a gochugaru salt-dusted pineapple wedge to garnish.” This is Los Angeles in a glass.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients, except Tepache Sazón and garnishes, to a shaker with three ice cubes.
  2. Do a short shake, then add Tepache Sazón.
  3. Strain into a tall collins glass with fresh ice.  
  4. Optional: Garnish with gochugaru salt-dusted pineapple wedge.

The Fennel

Noah Fecks

The Fennel is a mix between a margarita and a paloma. “Fennel and grapefruit go really well together, with the fennel adding a lot of earthy, savoriness to this classic,” says Trey Bliss, beverage director at Baxtrom Hospitality. “Suze also brings herbal bitterness to balance the sweetness of the grapefruit. Keep the lime to make sure the grapefruit really pops with citrus brightness.”

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients, except garnish, to a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain over fresh ice in a Collins glass.
  3. Garnish with fennel fronds or a half moon slice of grapefruit.

For the Fennel SyrupIngredients

  • 35g fennel seeds
  • 1,000g sugar
  • 1,000g water

Directions:
1. Bring all ingredients to a boil, then let steep off heat for 24 hours.
2. Strain and refrigerate.

Easy Tequila Cocktails

El Cielo Martini

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Who said a martini had to be made with gin or vodka? This rule-breaking martini spotlights Patrón El Cielo, a new slightly sweet and fruity offering from the iconic tequila house that’s been distilled four times. This easy tequila cocktail only requires four ingredients and really spotlights the flavor of cooked agave.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir.
  2. Pour neat into a chilled Nick and Nora glass.
  3. Garnish with orange twist.

Pressure Sensitive

Ken Goodman

“An all-season drink—either cooling you down in the summer or providing escapism in the winter, Pressure Sensitive is always a banger,” says Max Green, beverage director of Hospitality Department at New York City’s Point Seven. “Lalo Blanco Tequila, velvet falernum, lime, and orgeat pair beautifully to create this Mai Tai-inspired drink.” Thai bitters adds notes of green chili and baking spice, turning an otherwise simple tequila cocktail into something that tastes more complex.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a shaker with two cubes of ice.
  2. Shake until ice is melted.
  3. Pour into a footed pilsner glass over crushed ice.
  4. Garnish with a mint bouquet.

Double L

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“Double L represents the fusion of flavors and aromas from the cocktail’s star ingredients, lavender and lychee,” says Sayora Khamidova, general manager at JIMMY in New York, NY. It’s an exotic combination few are accustomed to in an easy tequila cocktail.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well, then strain into a martini glass.
  3. Garnish with fresh or dried lavender.

Dobel Smoky Margarita

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With notes of mesquite wood from Maestro Dobel Humito, this margarita inspires daydreams of a Mexican getaway. Its smoky essence highlights flavors of lime, corn, and agave. It’s transportive—even if you can’t swing the PTO.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Rim glass with tajín.
  2. Add ingredients to a shaker with ice.
  3. Shake vigorously, then strain into the rimmed cocktail glass over fresh ice.

La Faralla

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“The stunning color of this cocktail is enhanced when blending East Imperial Grapefruit Soda with Butterfly Cannon Blue Tequila,” says Jose Huitron of L’Opera Italian Restaurant in Long Beach, CA. 

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Rim the glass with black sea salt.
  2. In a shaking tin filled with ice, combine everything but the soda.
  3. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice, then top with grapefruit soda.

Spicy Finch

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New York City’s Temple Bar has a rotating spicy margarita special that changes with the seasons, but always pays some sort of homage to birds. “The Winter 23/24 release designed by JoJo Colonna is an agave drinkers’ dream with sharp green apple and habanero balanced with a hint of honey and a touch of nutmeg,” says Samantha Casuga, Temple Bar’s head bartender.

Ingredients

Instructions 

  1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously.
  2. Pour into a double rocks glass.
  3. Grate nutmeg on top.

Monochrome Margarita

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“Monochrome Margarita puts a sophisticated twist on a beloved classic,” says Jack Morgan, founder of Chrome Horse Society Tequila. “With elevated ingredients, such as clarified lime and spicy bitters, our margarita has an elegant yet simple presentation that’s deceptively packed with flavor.”  

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and stir well to combine.
  3. Strain into an old fashioned glass with fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Black Diamond Margarita

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The Black Diamond Margarita is made with the world’s first cristalino tequila, Maestro Dobel Diamante. Of course black diamond also refers to a category of ski slopes reserved for experts, placing this cocktail at the peak of easy margarita recipes.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Rim rocks glasses with black lava salt and fill with ice.
  2. Place ingredients, except garnish, in a shaker with ice.
  3. Shake and strain into rocks glasses.
  4. Garnish with lime wedge.

Classic Tequila Cocktails

Classic Margarita

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You need to know how to make a classic margarita, bottom line. Keep things blissfully simple with Patrón Silver, the first bottling in the brand’s expanding lineup. Traditional and modern techniques were utilized to “develop a recipe that elevated a category dominated by low-priced ‘mixto’ tequila,” says David Alan, Patrón’s tequila director of Trade Education & Mixology. It’s smooth and sweet on the palate with a light peppery finish, making it a dream to mix in a marg.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Rim a cocktail glass with salt.
  2. Combine ingredients, except garnish, in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously with ice to chill.
  3. Strain onto fresh ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a lime wedge.

Margarita al Pastor

Tequila Casa Dragones

Created by Jose Luis Leon at Mexico City’s Licorería Limantour, cocktail enthusiasts love Margarita al Pastor because it’s a playful spin on the classic made with Casa Dragones Blanco. This 100 percent blue agave silver tequila is intended to be sipped, making it a super smooth addition to any classic tequila cocktail. The unexpected dash of taco seasoning lends a smoky, savory hit that’s irresistible. 

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Rim a rocks glass with salt.
  2. Shake all ingredients in a tumbler with ice.
  3. Double strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.

818 Tequila Reposado Espresso Martini

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The Classic 818 Espresso Martini is a take on the ever-popular tequila espresso martini. The cooked agave and caramel notes of 818 Tequila Reposado are perfectly complemented by rich coffee liqueur and fresh espresso, resulting in a cocktail that’s as smooth as it is delicious.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake for 15 to 20 seconds, until the shaker is frosty.
  3. Strain into a chilled martini or coupe glass.
  4. Garnish with three espresso beans.

Momofuku’s Spicy Margarita

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“Our spin on a classic margarita uses calamansi—a juicy, vibrant citrus fruit from the Philippines—which tastes like a cross between lime juice and tangerine,” says Haera Shin, beverage director of Momofuku in New York, NY. “The habanero honey brings just the right amount of heat, sweet, and spice.”

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Make habanero honey.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except garnish, in a shaker.
  3. Double strain over ice in a rocks glass.
  4. Dust with Momofuku Spicy Salt and garnish with a lime wheel.

For the Habanero HoneyIngredients

  • 500 ml (2 cups) honey
  • 500 ml (2 cups) hot water
  • 5 sticks cinnamon
  • 4 habanero chilis

Instructions

  1. Combine honey, hot water, and cinnamon sticks in a pot and heat to simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Take off heat and let steep for 20 more minutes.
  3. Cool and keep refrigerated.

Tommy’s Margarita

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My mission was to craft a Tommy’s margarita that sings with the unique notes of the tequila chosen by the bartender or guest,” says Julio Bermejo, co-founder of TAG Global Spirits Awards. “Thankfully, the trend is shifting towards empowering guests to pick their tequila based on personal preference and the vibe they’re seeking.”

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Blanco tequila, like Luna Blanco
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 0.5 oz agave nectar
  • Salt, for rim

Instructions

  1. Rim a rocks glass with salt.
  2. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  3. Shake well to combine and chill.
  4. Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.
  5. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Midnight in Manhattan

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The perfect after-dinner sipper, Midnight in Manhattan is Patrón’s take on a Manhattan. While the OG is made with whiskey and sweet vermouth, this sweet-and-herbal variation boasts Averna Amaro, which plays well with the brand’s three-year-aged extra añejo.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, except garnish, in a mixing glass with ice and stir to chill and combine.
  2. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
  3. Garnish with an orange twist.

How to Choose the Right Tequila for Cocktails

Blanco

This is the most popular type of tequila for cocktails. You’ll also see it referred to as silver or plata tequila. Blanco is typically clear as it’s usually unaged (though it can rest for up to two months in oak barrels). It offers imbibers the purest taste of agave. You can expect tasting notes that are earthy, vegetal, and sometimes even mineral with salinity. “Blanco tequilas can be substituted in just about any clear spirits cocktail that uses vodka or gin,” Alan says. Take advantage of the bright, fresh profile by mixing blancos in margaritas and palomas.

Reposado

Reposado tequila has a golden hue that comes from its time resting in oak barrels—usually American oak barrels that formerly held bourbon. It can age anywhere between two months to a full year. During that time, the tequila develops notes of vanilla and caramel from the whiskey. The end product is earthy and savory, making it a perfect complement to more complex tequila cocktails that feature fall and winter spices, as well as rich recipes like a tequila espresso martini. See our roundup of the best reposado tequila cocktails for more ideas.

Añejo

Añejo intensifies the flavors of reposado by aging between one to three years in barrels. The casks can be built of anything, but regulations stipulate they can’t be larger than 600 liters in size. The aged tequila imbues a deeper hue, more like caramel. It’s also often sweeter, with flavors of oaked vanilla, caramel, and spices like cinnamon. While a brilliant sipping tequila, añejo is also a smash hit in classic whiskey cocktails like an old fashioned.

Extra Añejo

While extra añejo (XA) is aged the longest, it’s the newest in terms of tequila designations. Extra añejos comprise any tequila aged for at least three years in barrels no larger than 600 liters in size. It’s very rare to use an XA in a cocktail, as these bottlings wear the most expensive price tag. That said, if you want to make a luxe libation, sub whiskey for extra añejo in, say, a Manhattan.

Cristalino

Cristalino is the only tequila category that isn’t officially recognized by tequila’s governing body, the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT). There aren’t hard and fast rules, but rather guidelines as to what qualifies as an example. Usually, cristalinos are añejos or extra añejos that undergo charcoal filtration to remove the color of the aged spirit. You get a clear tequila that still retains some of the sweeter barrel notes gained during cask maturation. This is great in upscale tequila cocktails where you want more nuanced flavor without the color.

Tips for Mixing Up Better Tequila Cocktails

1. Use Good-Quality Ice

You don’t have to go crazy and buy a clear-ice maker (though those are great when drinking the best whiskey on the rocks). “Use the biggest, clearest, coldest ice you can find,” Alan says. Avoid the bagged stuff at bodegas and gas stations.

2. Keep Your Mix-Ins Fresh

“Always store wine-based ingredients, like vermouth, in the fridge for maximum freshness,” Alan says. When you’re making syrups from scratch at home, be sure to refrigerate them and add a label with the expiration date (up to three weeks) to ensure freshness.

3. Take Advantage of Fresh Juices and Garnishes

The higher the quality of your ingredients, the better your tequila cocktail will be. Avoid using juice concentrates; instead, opt for fresh-squeezed juices. “Don’t forget to garnish your drink with a fresh slice or zest of fresh citrus,” Alan says. “Besides enlivening the olfactory senses, the garnish is like window dressing for your cocktail and makes your drink a fest for the eyes.”

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