Tequila 101

Last Updated: December 6, 2023

Tequila means different things to different people. Whether you prefer your tequila neat, shot with a lime, in a Margarita, or enjoyed on the beach, it’s a spirit that’s easily enjoyed in many situations.

Tequila is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant. Mexican law regulates that tequila can only come from the state of Jalisco and must be bottled between 35 and 55 percent ABV.  When sold in the U.S., tequila must contain a minimum 40 percent ABV. Popular tequila brands in the United States include Jose Cuervo, Patron, Don Julio.

Looking for a bottle to drink? See our always updated list of the best Tequilas!

What Is Tequila Made From?

Tequila is made from the sugars found in the blue agave plant. The plant’s core is cooked, which allows for the sugars to be extracted, then fermented, distilled, and sometimes aged. Agave plants from the highlands of Jalisco often yield sweeter and fruitier tasting tequila while plants sourced from the lowlands give a more earthy flavor. The length of time tequila spends in barrel determines the depth of color and the intensity of wood or oak character in the flavors.

Here are the five most common types of tequila:

· Plata (un-aged Blanco or Silver)
· Joven (un-aged Blanco tequila that’s blended with Añejo or golden coloring)
· Reposado (aged in wood barrels for up to one year)
· Añejo (aged in wood barrels for one to three years)
· Extra añejo (aged in wood barrels for at least three years)

What To Mix With Tequila

Tequila enthusiasts often differ on the best way to drink the Mexican spirit. Whether you prefer your tequila neat, shot with lime, in a Margarita, or enjoyed on the beach, it’s a spirit that’s easy to enjoy in many situations. For an elevated version of the classic margarita, try Tommy’s Margarita Recipe. For something spicy, mix up a Spicy Blood Orange Margarita. Or if you love tropical flavors, try the Blue Agave Sour.

Tequila Essential Info

  • Color: Clear, light gold, rich amber
  • Region: The majority are made in the Jalisco state of Mexico (technically it can also be made in Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas)
  • ABV: Typically 40% ABV
  • Aged: Blanco/Joven 0-2 months; Reposado 2 months-1 year; Anejo 1-3 years; Extra Anejo at least 3 years
  • Made from: Blue Weber Agave
  • Commercial Examples: 1800 Tequila, Patrón, Gran Centenario, El Tesoro, Partida, Don Julio
  • Popular Cocktails: Paloma, Margarita, Tequila Sunrise, El Diablo, Bloody Maria

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