Tequila Cocktails

What Are the Differences Between the 3 Tequilas?

Tequila can sometimes a bad reputation, with most people only having experience with it by taking shots at a birthday celebration. While these can be fun, they don’t do tequila any justice. Some of the best tequila brands produce carefully distilled liquor with smooth, complex flavors. Using craft spirits can result in some of the best tequila cocktails. Learn about the three different types of tequila and elevate your enjoyment of this popular liquor. 

What Is Tequila? 

Authentic tequila comes from Mexico’s Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas regions. While liquor can be distilled from agave plants in other places, it cannot be called tequila. This is part of the Trade in Tequila Agreement between the United States and Mexico. The tequila-making process involves cooking, fermenting, and distilling the blue agave plant. 


Clear tequila is called silver, blanco, or plata. It is unaged, but it can sometimes be aged in oak barrels for as many as 60 days and still qualify as Blanco. Some distillers will let their Blanco Tequila batches rest in stainless steel tanks to encourage oxidization and ensure a uniform flavor throughout the batch. Some people may find the flavor of Blanco Tequila to be harsh. Common flavors in Blanco Tequila include black pepper, citrus, spices, and grassy notes. 

Blanco Tequila Cocktails 

Silver tequila is best enjoyed when used in a cocktail. The cocktail’s sweetness and added flavors complement the tequila. 

Classic Margarita 

  • 1.5 ounces of silver tequila
  • 1 ounce orange liqueur
  • .75 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Coarse salt for rimming the glass
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Start this tequila cocktail recipe by salting the rim of your glass. Then, shake the cocktail ingredients in an ice-filled shaker until blended. Pour into a freshly prepared glass and garnish with a lime wedge. 


  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 ounces sparkling water
  • .5 ounce lime juice
  • .5 ounce agave nectar or simple syrup, or to taste
  • Coarse salt for rimming the glass
  • Grapefruit wedge for garnish

Salt the glass rim. Add cocktail ingredients and stir to blend. Add ice, filling the glass, and garnish with a grapefruit wedge. 


Reposado tequila is aged longer than two months and up to one year in oak barrels. This aging helps to smooth out the flavors. The oak barrels bring out notes of caramel and vanilla. The aged tequila notes deepen with hints of chocolate, cinnamon, and chilies. Instead of being clear, Reposado tequila has a pale yellow to golden color, depending on the aging method used. One thing to note is that the color and flavor intensity can vary based on the barrels used. The larger the cask, the less likely all of the tequila will get the same level of flavor intensity. 

Reposado Tequila Cocktails 

The added aging of Reposado tequila gives it a more complex flavor. This makes it perfect for use in simple cocktails. Try it in a cocktail that lets the tequila take center stage. 

Tequila and Ginger Ale 

  • 2 ounces tequila Reposado
  • 4 ounces ginger ale

This tequila cocktail recipe is simple. Pour tequila into a glass with ice. Stir to chill the tequila. Top with ginger ale and garnish it simply with a lime wedge. 

Tequila Sour 

  • 2ounces Reposado tequila
  • 1ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • Dash of Angostura orange bitters
  • Cherry and half-wheel of orange for garnish
  • 1teaspoon egg white (optional)

Add all these ingredients to a shaker filled with ice and vigorously shake. You want to blend the egg white into the cocktail and make it frothy. Strain the blend into an old-fashioned glass and garnish with a cherry and orange wheel. 


Tequila aged for over a year and up to four years is called Anejo. Tequila aged over three years may be called extra Anejo. Anejo Tequila is also aged in oak or Holm oak barrels. However, unlike Reposado tequila, the barrels are limited to 600 liters. This ensures that the tequila gets effectively unfused with the wood’s flavor. The color of Anejo Tequila is the darkest, often dark amber or caramel color. The flavor of Anejo is rich and complex.

Anejo Tequila Cocktails 

Aged Tequilas are rich in flavor with complex notes that make their presence known throughout the drinking experience. If you are going to invest in a high-quality Anejo Tequila, don’t waste it by mixing it into a tequila cocktail. Instead, let the craft spirits be the star of the show by sipping it neat or on the rocks. 

Additional Tequila Types 

There are additional types of tequilas that do not fall into the primary categories. Mixto Tequila is a blended tequila that uses unaged and aged tequila. Curado tequila has natural flavors blended into it to give it a fruity accent. Popular flavors include pineapple, strawberry, lemon, and pear. They are perfect for crafting specialty tequila cocktails. Finally, Cristalino Tequila is Anejo Tequila that has undergone additional charcoal filtering or redistillation. This removes the tannins, giving it a clearer color despite the aging.

How to Choose a Tequila 

There is an art to choosing a tequila. First, focus on choosing a high quality tequila by looking for one made from 100% blue agave. Then, choose the type of tequila that will work best for the tequila cocktail recipe you want to make. Less aged will work best for mixed cocktails, while more aged will work better for sipping. Look for a brand that has a reputation for quality. While you can choose a well-known one, plenty of smaller distilleries make craft spirits. Try to look beyond the fancy packaging and celebrity endorsements to find the best tequila. 

FAQs About Tequila

Which tequila is less harsh?

Golden tequila or cristalino are the least harsh types. This is because they tend to be the sweetest, which mellows out tequila’s sometimes intense natural flavors. 

What’s better, Anejo or Reposado?

Both Anejo and Reposado tequila are delicious. One isn’t inherently better than the other. Reposado tequilas are good for making simple, classic cocktails. Anejo Tequilas are good for drinking straight and showcasing the natural flavors of the liquor. 

What type of tequila is Patron?

The most popular type of Patron is silver. However, Patron also makes Reposado, Anejo, and extra Anejo Patron Tequilas. You can tell them apart by their color. Silver is clear, Reposado is a pale yellow, Anejo is a richer yellow color, and extra Anejo is a caramel color. 

Why is Anejo more expensive than Reposado?

Anejo Tequila is more expensive than Reposado tequila because it is aged longer. The longer aging process and smaller aging barrels result in higher quality, making it more expensive. 

Find a distillery near you and explore the unique flavors of small batch liquor. 

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