In recent years, the liquor market has exploded with high-quality tequila at reasonable prices. With so many tequila options to choose from, it can leave margarita drinkers bewildered.
The margarita is also highly adaptable. Depending on your taste and skills in cocktail preparation, a margarita can be highly sophisticated or simple and sweet.
Which Tequilas are Best for Making Margaritas?
In this guide, we break down the best tequilas for margaritas available on the market regarding price and flavor profile. Ranging from top-shelf to bottom-shelf, blanco to mezcal, this list features the best of the best tequilas for margaritas, no matter your budget or taste.
Blanco is the pure taste of distilled agave. These tequilas are unaged or are aged minimally in stainless steel tanks (a few weeks maximum). The tequila of choice for margarita traditionalists, the blanco’s comparatively simple flavor, is said to pair perfectly with the simple ingredients of the margarita. These are some of the best tequilas for margaritas in the world.
There’s plenty to love about Espolón’s mid-shelf blanco, from the taste to the price to the excellent label. Though Espolón Blanco is considered a budget tequila, this is by no means evident in the taste. The tequila is double distilled in the Los Altos hills of Southern California, but the agave is sourced from elsewhere.
The agave of Espolón’s signature bottle is grown well above sea level, giving the tequila fruity notes that work exceptionally well in a margarita.
ElVelo, with its simple bottle and stark design, is a tequila that was made for cocktails. This budget option still maintains an excellent flavor profile and manages to steer clear of the infamous “bite” of bottom-shelf tequilas.
ElVelo is bottled in the same distillery as Casa Noble, another highly reputed tequila brand. The tequila of ElVelo is known for its earthier notes: grass, mint, and stone fruit.
There are other things that set ElVelo apart. The bottle of ElVelo is 1 liter, which is larger than most of the bottles on our list. Furthermore, the alcohol content at 44.5% is slightly higher than traditional tequila (40%). Even the shape of the bottle is conducive to easy handling and quick pouring: a staple of the barman’s toolbelt.
Olmeca Altos Plata
Henry Besant and Dre Masso were already legends in their own right before creating the Olmeca Altos Plata. These two world-renowned bartenders knew exactly what they were looking for when they went down to Jalisco, Mexico, looking for the perfect distillery for their new tequila.
What they came up with checks all the boxes. A distinct taste that charmingly cuts through the margarita while nevertheless remaining incredibly smooth on the palate, the Olmeca Altos Plata is a favorite among many margarita makers the world over. Add to all this the fact that Olmeca Altos Plata runs at a price much lower than its quality (a little over 20 bucks), and this drink might very well be your next favorite.
Herradura Silver Tequila
The name Herradura likely needs no introduction. Their Silver Tequila may be one of the most popular tequilas for margaritas on our list. Why not? This tequila is smooth enough to drink on its own, so adding a little lime and triple sec just makes it that much better. Expect flavors of red pepper and mint, along with the sweet taste of cooked agave that comes through subtly.
We love this tequila, and indeed our only complaint is the price. This is one of the higher shelf items on our list, and often in margaritas, you don’t need the best of the best.
If the taste of your company isn’t discerning, it may be more helpful to your wallet if you spring for one of the more affordable items on our list. That said, though, if you want a genuinely first-class Margarita, Herradura’s Silver Tequila is undoubtedly a strong contender for first place.
Roca Patrón Silver
Patrón, a liquor whose name is probably better recognized than its taste, is often credited with beginning the United States’ tequila revolution. Before Patrón, Americans tended to think of tequila as liquor just for shooting with a lick of salt and a bite of lime. Patrón offered a high-quality, premium liquor whose sheer taste led many liquor-makers around the country to reconsider this south-of-the-border drink.
Roca, Patrón’s luxury line, is made from Blue Weber Agave, cooked in a brick oven, and stone-pressed in the traditional way (a method said to bring out more flavor in the finished product). Roca won’t perform magic on your bank statement, but it will make a special margarita.
Reposado tequilas, typically wonderful to drink on the rocks and tasty in their own right, are a somewhat controversial classification of tequila to have on a “best tequilas for margaritas” list. Purists will decry the inclusion of a reposado in a margarita as sacrilege. Good taste claims otherwise. These aged tequilas take their color from the oak barrels they’re aged from 2 months to a year.
The first reposado on our list, the Avión Reposado, has something of a chameleon effect. Its smooth, sweet, agave finish makes it perfectly adaptable to any mood or occasion. Having aged in an oak barrel for around half a year, the Avión’s fermented highland agave gives subtle washes of dried fruit and spices to your margarita.
El Jimador Reposado
The winner of the 2012 World Spirits competition in San Francisco, El Jimador, is no stranger to the margarita. Their silver, reposado, and extra añejo tequilas have made notable names for themselves, not just in the United States but also internationally.
Made from matured blue agave, the El Jimador Reposado has an overwhelming warmth to it that just can’t be found in your blanco tequila. Expect vanilla, nutmeg, and wood notes. The El Jimador Reposado is aged between three and nine months. Its subtle flavors are perfect if you’re interested in preparing a margarita that retains the tequila taste but isn’t too strong.
Solidly mid-shelf, with a beautiful label and fruity notes, the Espanita Reposado is a reposado that stands a cut above the usual reposado crowd. Whereas we typically expect a reposado to be much warmer, the Espanita Reposado remains defiantly floral and fresh. Margaritas poured from the Espanita bottle are beloved for their unique flavor. You could take a trip to the tropics, or you could just sip an Espanita Reposado margarita.
Non-Traditional Margarita Tequilas
The blanco is standard practice for margaritas, but in recent years reposados have been used more and more to make this favorite of all Mexican cocktails. If you’re looking to mix it up, however, here are our favorite non-traditional tequilas that can make a splash in your cocktail.
Higher Proof: Herradura Directo de Alambique
Another pick from Herradura makes it onto our list. The Directo de Alambique is so unique among tequilas that we had to mention it. The first thing you need to know about this alcohol is that it is made to pack a punch. With an ABV weighing in at around 55%, this 110 proof tequila is not for the faint of heart.
The notes extant in the standard Herradura Silver Tequila make another appearance here, but with the added sophistication of herbs and peppery notes. This, along with the extra bite from the higher proof, makes the Directo de Alambique something of a heavyweight in the world of tequila mixed drinks.
Cristalino: Maestro Dobel Diamante
Cristalino has its name because it’s a crystal clear tequila with the flavors of aged tequila. Essentially, the cristalino is filtered so thoroughly that the color is removed from the tequila after it is aged in traditional oak, wine, or other barrels. Maestro Dobel was one of the earliest major labels to produce a cristalino, and this one has, if you’ll forgive us the expression, aged well.
The Maestro Dobel Diamante Cristalino has gained a lot of popularity amongst margarita mixers because it maintains the flavor of a more mature, aged tequila while not affecting the signature color that makes the margarita such a standout.
Extra Añejo: El Tesoro Extra Añejo
Extra Añejo, well-aged tequila, can bring new and exciting flavors to the tried-and-true margarita. El Tesoro’s Extra Añejo is aged for three to five years in bourbon barrels. Unlike some of the other major tequila producers, El Tesoro makes their tequila in the traditional way, hand pressing the agave by stone and baking it in a brick oven.
Mezcal: El Buho
If you’ve never had Mezcal before, El Buho is an excellent brand to start with. Mezcal is a liquor that is also typically made from agave, but it has a much smokier flavor. This has to do with how the agave is prepared before distillation: whereas in tequila, the agave is steamed, in mezcal, the agave is smoked in Earthen pits over charcoal and wood fires.
The smoky flavor of El Buho’s mezcal makes a really fascinating margarita. The warmth of a campfire meeting with the pure energy of a night out on the town finds its perfect liquid expression in this drink. Beyond its use for margaritas, El Buho’s reasonably priced mezcal is a lovely drink to sip on over ice.
This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.