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The ultimate guide to top-shelf tequila

We’ve found the best premium tequilas for sipping straight or a cocktail base, plus some fantastic margarita recipes.

Tequila is one of the most consumed alcohols in the world. While the spirit has always sold in record numbers in the US, distillers are now seeing growth in the UK, Spain, Australia and Japan. Evolving from a late-night club shot to a sophisticated cocktail base and on-the-rocks sip, high-end tequila has become a mixologist essential – especially as margaritas are one of Australia’s best-selling beverages. In fact, in 2022, margaritas were Australia’s most popular on-premise cocktail, and tequila was the second most preferred spirit base.

Hailing from Mexico’s western state of Jalisco, tequila is a distilled beverage made from blue agave that can only carry the title when produced and aged in the state of Jalisco and limited municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit and Tamaulipas. Forming an integral part of the Mexican cultural identity, tequila carries a protected status – much like Champagne – and is available in different varieties such as blanco, reposado, añejo. Perhaps adding to its appeal is tequila’s status as a ‘healthier’ alcohol, containing no carbohydrates, no sugar and fewer calories than wine, beer and cider.

However, a cocktail is only as good as its base spirit, and a renewed interest in tequila has created a niche for premium interpretations to fill. We’ve found 11 of the best premium tequilas for your next dinner party, cocktail soiree or after-work tipple.

Best tequila to serve over ice

Patrón El Cielo

A round-up of the best tequilas can only start with Patrón and its new prestige tequila, El Cielo. This world’s first four-times distilled silver tequila bright, smooth and naturally sweet. Best served over ice with a slice of orange, El Cielo is distilled in small batches to ensure the highest quality. It’s packaged in a sleek glass bottle outfitted with gold designs inspired by the volcanic tahona stone used to produce Patrón Tequila, with elements inspired by the agave fields and light found within the Jalisco Highlands of Mexico. RRP AUD$300.

a bottle of Patrón El Cielo and two spritz cocktails
Patrón El Cielo, RRP $300

818 Añejo

Kendall Jenner’s tequila label knows how to produce a full-bodied spirit. The 818 Añejo is a light amber liquid with gold highlights that is aged in oak barrels for more than a year. Tasting notes of vanilla and sweet agave are underscored by herbal inflections. The aroma is sweet and rich, channelling caramel, chocolate, toasted nuts and citrus zest. Expect a long and silky texture from this flavoursome tequila. RRP AUD $130

818 añejo on a cocktail table
818 añejo

Don Julio 1942 Añejo Tequila

The 1942 Añejo tequila from Don Julio was first created in 2002 to celebrate the brand’s 60th anniversary. Today, this blend is produced in small batches and aged for at least two years and six months before being bottled up. It’s a fantastic sipping tequila with notes of caramel and chocolate on the nose, while oak, vanilla and roasted agave are present on the palate. RRP AUD $299.99

Don Julio 1942
Don Julio 1942

Herradura Legend

Launched in Australia just last year, Herradura Legend is made in small batches from the finest 100% Blue Weber agave, traditionally cooked, naturally fermented, twice distilled, and matured for at least twelve months using a unique combination of seasoned, grooved and new American white oak barrels. This first-of-its-kind Añejo tequila has an incredibly rich, deep colour and a luxurious, velvety smooth taste. RRP AUD $300

bottle of herradura Legend on a table
Herradura Legend

Best tequilas for cocktail bases

Patrón Silver

Known for its pure, crystalline appearance, this silver tequila is young and crisp with citrus and herbal notes. As it hasn’t yet been aged in a barrel, the clean palette and vibrant profile make it ideal for margaritas. Mixing this spirit into any cocktail will deliver a subtle yet solid flavour kick that plays well with other additions. RRP AUD$90

Margarita in a coupe
Patrón Silver

1800 Coconut Tequila Liqueur

Double distilled and boasting a natural, ripe coconut flavour, the signature 1800 Coconut Liqueur has a medium body and tropical finish with a slightly-sweet profile. While it pairs perfectly with pineapple and can even be enjoyed on the rocks, it’s a great little number to have up your sleeve for coconut margaritas. RRP AUD $71.99

1800 Coconut Tequila Liquer
1800 Coconut Tequila Liqueur

818 Tequila Blanco

Expect notes of lemongrass and minerality on the nose from this tequila, underscored by mild floral and chamomile elements. With a brilliant and lightweight colour and texture, 818 Blanco is ultra smooth with a bright and crispy finish. Vanilla and sweet agave give way to tropical and citrus flavours on the palette. RRP AUD $100

818 Blanco
818 Blanco

Herradura Plata

Subtle oak notes and a sweet taste characterise Herradura Plata, a silver tequila aged for 45 days in American White Oak barrels. Expect a light golden hue to the tequila, a bold aroma of vanilla and wood, and a finish that leaves your mouth feeling refreshed. RRP AUD $99

Bottle of Herradura Plata with a pink cocktail
Herradura Plata

Cincoro Michael Jordan Reposado Tequila

A special project from basketball legend, billionaire, and prior owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan, Cincoro Tequila is made from a celebrated blend of both valley, and highland agaves from private farms of Jalisco, Mexico. The bottle and packaging are a commissioned piece from Mark Smith, Vice President of Innovation Special Projects at Nike, while the name “Cincoro” comes from a blending of two Spanish words, “cinco” and “oro.” The portmanteau pays homage to the five founding partners and their pursuit to create the gold standard in Tequila. With notes of vanilla, baking spices and toasted oak, it is a very approachable tequila. RRP AUD $214.90

Cincoro Michael Jordan Reposado Tequila
Cincoro Michael Jordan Reposado Tequila

Komos Anejo Cristalino Tequila

Komos Anejo Cristalino is a bold and refined tequila with a direct and unmistakable character. Poured into a glass, it presents a crystal-clear appearance, hinting at the purity and precision of its craftsmanship. The aroma is robust yet inviting, with pronounced notes of oak, vanilla, and caramel, reflecting its ageing process. The finish is long-lasting and warming, leaving behind a lingering impression of sweet agave and subtle earthy undertones. RRP AUD $275.90

Komos Anejo Cristalino Tequila
Komos Anejo Cristalino Tequila

Don Julio Blanco

Made from only the finest blue agave with a crisp flavour and hints of citrus, the silver tequila is the base on which all Don Julio variants are made. It’s perfect for cocktails and can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks. RRP AUD $120

Don Julio Blanco
Don Julio Blanco

Margarita recipes

Herradura’s Spicy Margarita

Ingredients
45ml Herradura Plata Tequila
30ml fresh lime juice
3-5 dashes Tabasco sauce
15ml Herradura Agave Nectar

  1. Combine all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake to mix.
  2. Strain into a margarita glass with fresh ice and rimmed with salt (optional).
  3. Garnish with a wedge or wheel of lime.
Herradura's Spicy Margarita
Herradura's Spicy Margarita

Patrón’s Perfect Margarita

Ingredients
45ml Patrón Silver
30ml Citrónge Orange Liqueur
22.5ml Fresh lime juice
7.5ml Simple syrup
+ Lime wedge for garnish
+ Kosher salt (optional)

  1. Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously with ice to chill.
  2. Strain onto fresh ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a lime wedge.
  3. Optionally, salt half the rim of the glass with kosher salt.
Margarita cocktail-making accessories
Patrón's Perfect Margarita

818 Pure Margarita

Ingredients
60ml 818 Tequila Blanco
30ml Fresh Lime Juice
30ml Agave Syrup (50% Agave Nectar, 50% Water)

  1. Shake all ingredients with ice.
  2. Strain and serve over fresh ice.
818 Pure Margarita
818 Pure Margarita

Avocado Mezcal Margarita by Pier Bar at Pier One Sydney Harbour

Ingredients
40ml Vida Mezcal
20ml Avocado Syrup
30ml Lime Juice
10ml Agave Syrup
Salt (for glass rim and garnish)
Avocado (for garnish)
Chilli flakes (for garnish)

Avocado syrup
Blend one avocado with a mixture of 20g sugar and 10g salt per 100g of avocado. Leave to sit for four hours before straining, add a splash of agave syrup and 100ml of water to dilute.

  1. Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker
  2. Salt the rim of the glass by dipping into lime juice and salt
  3. Fine strain into glass over cubed ice
  4. Garnish with a slice of avocado and a sprinkled mixture of blended chilli flakes and salt
Avocado margarita
© Pier One at Pier One Sydney Harbour

Coconut Margarita

Ingredients
30ml 1800 Coconut Tequila
30ml freshly squeezed lime
30ml Cointreau

Rim

  1. Lightly toast desiccated coconut in a frying pan.
  2. Mix with Maldon sea salt flakes (chilli flakes, too, if you like it spicy)
  3. Use the lime peel to rub around the rim and dip glass in coconut and salt mix.

Margarita

  1. Shake with ice and strain into martini glass with coconut, salt rim.

Margarita essentials

Manly Spirits Co. Margarita Cello

Take the hard work out of shaking up a top-notch margarita with this Margarita Cello from Manly Spirits Co. Made from premium Australian limes, three types of citrus and triple sec, this bottle has a perfectly balanced selection of pre-mixed ingredients for effortless cocktail construction. Expect a floral nose with a hint of sweetness, an intense lime backbone on the palate and a subtle sherbet finish. RRP AUD $60

Manly Spirits Co. Margarita Cello
Manly Spirits Co. Margarita Cello

Read more:

The ultimate guide to Christmas cocktails
Meet mezcal, tequila’s smoky artisan cousin

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