The simple delight of a tequila and soda is always just two ingredients away, but what most people don’t realize is the tequila and soda can be so much more—with just as minimal an effort. From floral liqueurs, to muddled tropical fruits, to a dash of habanero hot sauce, here are six different ways to spice up your next tequila and soda.
Add a Liqueur
There are a seemingly endless amount of liqueurs that you can add to a tequila and soda to make it more complex and flavorful, from floral spirits to bitter amari. Fruit liqueurs like strawberry or grapefruit (aka pamplemousse liqueur) will add a refreshing brightness that’s perfect for summer sipping. Darker, more bitter fruit liqueurs like crème de cassis (made from blackcurrants) or spicy, herbal liqueurs like Domaine de Canton (a ginger liqueur) are the perfect accompaniments for aged tequilas and make for refreshing fall or winter spritzes. Floral liqueurs, like St-Germain, make a tequila and soda that’s so delectably quaffable that it’s drinkable any time of year. Bitter amari like Aperol and Campari can give a tequila and soda a rich depth and make the earthier, more vegetal flavors in tequila shine through.
Add Fresh Citrus
If you want your tequila and soda ultra refreshing, bright and downright chuggable, simply add a squeeze of citrus. Fresh lime is an obvious choice, but you can also add grapefruit juice, blood orange juice, muddled kumquats or yuzu juice for a savory twist. Think about the fruits that go well with a Margarita, and the same will go for your tequila and soda.
Add a Pinch of Salt
If you’ve ever had a classic Margarita rimmed with salt, or chased a shot of tequila with a lick of the savory seasoning, you know how well it enhances the agave spirit. In a tequila and soda, there’s no difference. Salt not only gives the cocktail an extra layer of depth, it boosts the flavors of any other ingredients you add to the drink, like that citrus or those bitter liqueurs we were talking about. Salt is capable of mellowing the citric tang of any fruit juices and will remove the bitter bite of any liqueur added to the drink. You can either add a pinch of salt before you add the soda (make sure to stir it so that it dissolves) or you can add a saline solution to the drink.
Add Muddled Fruit
If you want your tequila and soda to be well equipped for hot weather and poolside drinking, muddle fresh fruit into your drink. You can use seasonal, local produce, like watermelon slices, fresh blackberries, cherries, or peaches and tropical fruits like pineapple or mangoes. Simply add a small handful of the fruit to your glass, top it with tequila, and muddle until the spirit has turned the color of the fruit. Then, add ice, top with soda, and stir with a bar spoon to mix.
Add Fresh Herbs
If you’ve ever been curious about what makes a Mojito so damn delicious, the answer is fresh herbs. Herbs not only lend their flavors to cocktails and enhance flavors already inherent in the base spirit, they also give drinks their aromatic properties as well. Oddly, mint is not the best herb to add to a tequila and soda. Instead, the best herbs to add are savory herbs used for cooking. We recommend using herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, cilantro, and even tarragon. You can use the herbs as a simple garnish for their aromatics or gently muddle the herbs with the tequila before adding soda.
Add Something Spicy
Tequila’s earthy savoriness was made to be served with something spicy—which is why the spirit is the perfect chaser to that fiery habanero sauce you dump all over your taco. Your tequila and soda can also benefit from the same piquant touch. You can add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce directly to your drink, muddle a few raw jalapeños, or add a spicy bitter touch with Scrappy’s Firewater Tincture, or Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub. The spicier, the better.