37 Tequila Cocktails That Go Way Beyond Basic Margaritas

BY The Editors of Epicurious


Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Michelle Gatton

Margaritas are great, but there's much more to do with tequila beyond shaking it up with lime and orange liqueur.

If the only tequila cocktails you've had have all been margaritas, then you might be ready to try some other tequila recipes. A good bottle of tequila—seek out the stuff made from 100% agave—will have herbal, peppery flavors that will be bright and fresh (if it's a blanco) or slightly mellowed and creamy (if it's reposado or añejo.) Think of tequila as a botanical spirit, like gin, but all that botanical flavor comes naturally out of the agave plant itself. Which is to say: the good stuff deserves a good cocktail. Below, you'll find 37 of our favorites, including refreshing and spicy drinks, and sophisticated bitter concoctions, from the Epicurious archives and some of the best recent cookbooks and cocktail books.


photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Michelle Gatton

1 / 37 Oaxaca Old Fashioned

Tequila cocktails with a little mezcal are among our favorites: pairing the two agave spirits heightens the earthy flavor of both. This stirred drink is sultry and herbal and smoky and yes, boozy. If you like Scotch and other whiskies, start your agave journey here.


Photo by Chelsea Kyle, food styling by Katherine Sacks

2 / 37 The Mosé

This cocktail recipe takes all the core elements of a margarita—tequila, citrus, and sugar—and combines them with the dry, summery fun of rosé.


Eric Medsker Photography

3 / 37 Retox Cocktail

This spicy riff on the margarita from New York bartender Sother Teague's I'm Just Here for the Drinks was inspired by popular detox cleanses. But it's definitely not a health drink.


Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Sophie Strangio, Food Styling by Michelle Gatton

4 / 37 3-Ingredient Grilled Orange Margarita

Grilled oranges infuse this refreshing cocktail with slightly sweet, slightly bitter notes and smoky flavor, balanced by bright lime juice and aged tequila.


Photo by Ray Kachatorian

5 / 37 Tropic Like It's Hot

This pineapple and tequila cocktail from Helen Johannesen of Son of a Gun in Los Angeles is a beach party in a glass. And we could all use a drinkable beach party right about now. This recipe was featured in Eat. Cook. LA.


Photo by Ed Anderson

6 / 37 Cucumber Cilantro Margarita

More great tequila cocktails from Los Angeles: This refreshing spin on a margarita from Trejo's Tacos pairs the spirit with savory cilantro and cooling muddled cucumber.


Photo by Linda Xiao

7 / 37 Pineapple-Hibiscus Cocktail

Dried hibiscus flowers add a punch of tart flavor and a seriously gorgeous color to this tequila drink, which has a spicy kick from sliced jalapeño. Leftover hibiscus also makes a delicious agua fresca.


Christina Holmes

8 / 37 Watermelon, Lime, and Tequila

This slushy blender cocktail is perfect for whiling away a sunny afternoon in your backyard (or on your fire escape).


Photo by Doron Gild

9 / 37 Rosita

If you like bitter drinks but find the Negroni a bit overwhelming, try this brisk and bracing tequila aperitif. Jim Meehan recommends serving it up, as shown, in his book, Meehan's Bartender Manual, but we also really like it poured over ice in a rocks glass.


Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Prop Styling by Beatrice Chastka, Food Styling by Kate Schmidt

10 / 37 Salty Paloma Soda Can Cocktail

This easy grapefruit and tequila cocktail, served right in the can, is refreshing, subtly sweet, and salty.


Ed Anderson

11 / 37 Pale Rider Cocktail

This cocktail was inspired by sangria, but it's way better. It's balanced with the saline notes of manzanilla sherry plus fresh lime, spice-infused tequila, and cane sugar syrup.


Photo by Danielle Levitt

12 / 37 Rosy Boa Cocktail

Rose water is the little something that makes this cocktail recipe special.


Photo by Mandalyn Renicker

13 / 37 Pear Pitcher Margaritas with Chile-Lime Rims

The classic margarita meets ripe pears and maple syrup in this easy pitcher drink.


Photo by Danny Kim

14 / 37 Paloma

The Paloma is a classic Mexican highball that usually features grapefruit soda like Squirt. Here's a fresh version of drink, made with grapefruit juice.


Karine Laval

15 / 37 Watermelon Sugar Cocktail

Does it get more refreshing than watermelon, lime, and tequila? This cocktail from famed bartender Phil Ward keeps things simple…but spicy. (You'll give the booze a little heat by mixing it with jalapeño stems and seeds and letting it sit for just 15 minutes.) This one works with mezcal, too!


Photo by Michael Graydon & Nikole Herriott

16 / 37 Aperol-Kombucha Cocktail

Think of this cocktail recipe as a more boozy, more delicious, and just as pretty Aperol spritz


Photograph by Natalie Migliarini and James Stevenson

17 / 37 Enjoying a Margarita in Venezia

Think of this as a bright and bittersweet Aperol margarita, honoring both Italy and Mexico. This tequila cocktail appears in Beautiful Booze by Natalie Migliarini and James Stevenson.


Photo by Romulo Yanes

18 / 37 The Classic Margarita

The classic margarita is yours for tinkering. Try this easy tequila recipe, then experiment with the proportions. (Some bartenders recommend 2 oz. tequila, 1 oz. lime, and ¾ oz. Cointreau or other orange liqueur. Others dial down the tequila to 1½ oz., and do ¾ oz. each Cointreau and lime, plus ¼ ounce simple syrup.)


Photo by Laura Murray

19 / 37 Afternoon Siesta

A little beer can make tequila cocktails extra refreshing. This one from Tristan Willey pairs hoppy IPA with fresh lime, bittersweet Campari, and blanco tequila.


Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Kat Boytsova

20 / 37 Frozen Raspberry-Ginger Margarita

This spin on the frozen margarita adds a sweet–tart flavor with frozen raspberries and a hint of spiciness from fresh ginger.


Photo by Shannon Sturgis

21 / 37 Say Anything

This drink recipe from Ivy Mix's Spirits of Latin America (and her bar, Leyenda) pays homage to the romantic comedy. It's “a little sweet, a little bitter, and HOT,” writes Mix.


Dean Kaufman

22 / 37 Spicy Grapefruit Margarita

This margarita variation is easy to make (and you can cut the batch in half if you'd like.) Just note: The longer the tequila is infused with the chiles, the hotter it gets.


Photo by Wynn Myers

23 / 37 Common Lily

In the fall, make this drink with a fresh fig instead of blackberries—use half for muddling and half for the garnish


Photo by Peden & Munk

24 / 37 Tequila Highball

When in doubt, add soda. The resulting highball (about 2 ounces of any booze filled to the top with soda) is refreshing—and impossible to mess up.


Photo by Ted Cavanaugh, Food Styling by Ali Nardi, Prop Styling by Martin Bourne

25 / 37 Siesta

You won't be sorry with tequila, grapefruit, and Campari.


Kate Mathis

26 / 37 Melon Lime Slushy

This frosty drink is as refreshing as frozen lemonade but has the added lushness of ripe melon. Fresh thyme gives the fruit's sweetness some grown-up dimension.


Marcus Nilsson

27 / 37 Nacho Vidal

The spicy and perfectly tart shrub (essentially a flavored drinking vinegar) gives this pitcher-sized tequila cocktail a refreshing tartness.


Rob Lawson Photography Ltd 07721 646 833

28 / 37 Matcharita

Matcha adds an earthy element to this modern twist on the margarita, which gets its tartness from yuzu juice, which you can purchase in specialty stores and online.


Antonis Achilleos copyright © 2009

29 / 37 Blackberry-Poblano Margarita

The luscious purple color of this drink is a stunner! Taste a berry first to check for sweetness. If it's not supersweet, add a tablespoon of sugar when muddling the berries.


Photo by Alex Lau

30 / 37 Tiki Cantaloupe-Coconut Cocktail

Fact: A drink served in a melon half is always more fun. This one pairs tequila with lime, agave nectar, and coconut milk.


Antonis Achilleos copyright © 2009

31 /37 Bangkok Margarita

This recipe was adapted from Pichet Ong's P*ONG restaurant in New York. Reposado tequila works wonderfully with ginger liqueur, pineapple juice, and a pinch of Aleppo-style pepper. For a spicier cocktail, substitute cayenne, ancho, or chipotle powder.


Photo by Chelsea Kyle, food styling by Tommy Werner

32 / 37 The Husker Dew

Coffee-Cherry Simple Syrup lends fruity and floral notes to this refreshing summer cocktail. The name is misleading: the syrup contains neither cherries nor coffee beans. When harvesting coffee, farmers pick coffee cherries, which are shelled for their bean pits. The beans are roasted to become the coffee you know. While the cherries are usually discarded, you can actually steep their husks in hot water for an aromatic tea.


Peden + Munk

33 / 37 Especiado Cocktail

Hibiscus, rosemary, allspice, and clove lend a whirlwind of flavor to this recipe, one of our favorite big-batch tequila cocktails. Feel free to size it down as needed.


Alexandra Grablewski

34 / 37 Chipotle Sangrita

Instead of making tequila cocktails, how about just prepping a nice accompaniment to your tequila? This simple sangrita is made with just canned chipotle, fresh lemon juice, and tomato juice.


Travis Rathbone

35 / 37 Beeritas

Ok, it's a little retro, but sometimes that's just what you want. Dig the frozen limeade concentrate out of your freezer, mix with tequila and a refreshing beer, and everyone's happy.


Pornchai Mittongtare

36 / 37 Mango-Cilantro Margarita

If you've gotten this far in this collection of tequila cocktails, you've probably figured out that any fruit (or vegetable, or herb) will work for making a spin on a margarita. This version starts with ripe mango and cuts the sweetness with a little cilantro.


Photo by Lindsay Landis, Taylor Hackbarth

37 / 37 Frozen Sunrise Margaritas

Wanna pretend it's the '80s again? This frozen drink will get you there, though you can secretly polish these up by using homemade grenadine and high-quality maraschino cherries.