Food & Drink

Quick Tequila Cocktails That Let the Sunshine In

tequila cocktails
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

We already know tequila is delicious on its own. When you're using a quality, 100-percent agave spirit, cocktails don't need much to complement the herbal, sweet, and spicy flavors. So keep your tequila cocktails simple. We've rounded up some three-ingredient drinks that cover all the bases, from margaritas and agave-enhanced classics to nostalgic throwbacks like the Tequila Sunrise. Seriously, thank you Mexico.
 

Tommy's margarita

This minimalist margarita is quickly becoming the margarita of choice thanks to a tart and crisp flavor that lets the tequila shine. There's no orange liqueur to worry about, just sweetener (simple syrup, honey, and agave all work well), fresh lime juice, and a good blanco or reposado tequila. If you learn to make only one cocktail, it should be this dangerously good party starter.

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice (don't use bottled, just squeeze a lime, it's not hard)
  • ½ ounce agave syrup or other sweetener

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice, shake to chill, and strain over fresh ice. Salt garnish optional.

Tequila Negroni

Boozy and stirred, this classy drink is especially fun at upscale parties, served in a chic lowball glass. We suggest this for an office party, as a sophisticated way to enjoy the holiday and revel in the mayhem that ensues when everybody actually listens to you. If you ever wanted to get intel from a co-worker or boss, this is the perfect prelude.

Combine all ingredients in a lowball glass with ice, stir to chill, and dilute slightly.

Tequila Sunrise

There is no shame in this drink (or the underrated Kurt Russell movie), even though you tend to see it mainly on cruise ships. We'll own up to it, we think this cocktail made with fresh-squeezed organic OJ and homemade grenadine is pretty tasty. It's an easy way to introduce tequila to those who are unaccustomed to the strong flavor of the spirit, but who still want all the fun that goes along with it.

Pour tequila and orange juice in a tall glass over ice, stir briefly to combine. Add grenadine and watch as it sinks. So pretty. Like a sunrise. Or Kurt Russell.

Tequila Old Fashioned

Yeah, you can get a little fancier by muddling up oranges or other fruits, but in essence, an Old Fashioned is all about the spirits, the bitters, and the sugar. This new-fashioned take ditches bourbon for tequila, which makes for a smokier, less woodsy drink that still pairs wonderfully with fireside chats. 

Stir ingredients together in an Old Fashioned glass, then hit them with ice, preferably one of those big-ass cubes. If you have an orange lying around, tie it all together with a strip of peel. 

Tequila soda

This cocktail kills two birds with one stone: delicious tequila drink, plus hydration. It's an especially good choice for those looking to avoid a future hangover. It's everything you wish those canned hard seltzers could be, and more.

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 3 ounces club soda
  • Lime wedge

Pour the tequila over ice in a tall glass, fill with club soda, squeeze in lime wedge, and enjoy.
 

Paloma

Hailing from Mexico, the Paloma is one of the most refreshing tequila highballs out there. For that grapefruit flavor, you can use soda like Fresca, or something naturally tart (and less sugary) like Q’s Grapefruit, or some freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice and sparkling water. Don’t forget a spritz of fresh lime and a salted rim.

  • 1 ounce blanco Tequila
  • 1 ounce grapefruit soda or grapefruit juice with sparkling water
  • Fresh lime juice

Combine tequila and lime juice in a highball glass with ice and a salted rim. Add grapefruit soda and garnish with a grapefruit slice.

Bloody Maria

How do you make a Bloody Mary better? By replacing the vodka with tequila. This rule of thumb applies to almost any drink that uses vodka. The combination of spicy tomato juice with tequila is so natural that you'll wonder why this brunch staple was ever made with anything else.

Combine all ingredients in a tall glass over ice, stir, and enjoy your brunch.
 

Tequila Don Coco

Tequila for dessert! Satiate your sweet tooth with this tasty, boozy concoction of decadent cocoa and coconut liqueur (and of course tequila). The cocoa flavor complements the aromas of the tequila, while the coconut delivers a rich texture for sophisticated and delicious sipping.

Pour ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice, and stir gently. Strain into chilled glass.

Mexican mule

Like so many things that come from Mexico, tequila is immensely flavorful and complex, and makes a drink that's much more than palatable than vodka when combined with these two ingredients.

Combine all ingredients in a highball glass (or copper mug, if you're fancy) over ice, stir gently.
 

Salty Chihuahua

It’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s tart, it’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a tequila cocktail -- no blender required. This sipper, a cousin to the margarita, gets its name from its salty rim (you can put a dash of salt in the drink, too) and the Mexican city/state of Chihuahua, renowned for distilling an agave spirit called sotol. 

Combine tequila, triple sec, and grapefruit juice in an ice-filled shaker and, well, shake it. Add ice to a salt-rimmed glass, strain cocktail mix into it, and garnish with a grapefruit slice.

Tequila pineapple

The Spanish word for the agave heart, from which tequila is made, is the same as the Spanish word for pineapple: piña. They are natural companions, so combining pineapple juice with tequila is a no-fail way to impress your friends and make them think you are an expert mixologist even if you know nothing and it is literally the first drink you've ever made. You're welcome.

Combine pineapple juice and tequila in a tall glass over ice. Stir to combine, top with club soda.

Baja Gold

See that above recipe, but think it doesn't sound sweet enough (or maybe you just hate bubbles)? The Baja Gold is your answer. The basics are the same, but instead of club soda, you throw in some agave syrup and considerably less pineapple so you get a much more concentrated kiss from the sugar fairy without watering down the essence of the tequila.  

Combine ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled coupe, and garnish with lime if you have it. 

Tequila Manhattan (or "CDMX")

Whiskey is the drink of choice when you want to listen to Hank Williams and cry; tequila on the other hand, is a jovial spirit for parties and socializing. Curb the bourbon blues by switching the liquor in this classic whiskey drink. Opt for an aged tequila to keep the authentic depth and richness of the drink in tact.

Stir all ingredients until chilled, strain, and serve straight up.

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