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We Asked 17 Bartenders: What Tequila Cocktail Do You Wish People Ordered More?

Ask the average person to name a tequila cocktail, and they’re likely to blurt out “Margarita.” That’s fine. Margaritas are delicious, refreshing, and ingrained in our collective consciousness. It’s really difficult to feel anything but good vibes with a well-made Margarita in hand.

Ask a bartender the same question, however, and they may give you a different answer. It’s not that they don’t like Margaritas. It’s just that the drink’s popularity and ubiquitousness tend to come at the expense of other delicious tequila drinks that aren’t ordered as much as they’d like to see. To find out what those other beverages are, we asked 17 bartenders what tequila cocktail deserves a little more love from their guests.

The tequila cocktails people should order more, according to bartenders:

Oaxaca Old Fashioned
Toro Bravo
21st Century
Silver Monk
Tequila Old Fashioned
Vicious Virgin #2
Avion de Papel
Mexican Martini
Tommy’s #2
El Diablo
Mexican Firing Squad

“Definitely the Oaxaca Old Fashioned. It’s much less sweet than a traditional Old Fashioned because of the vegetal notes from the tequila, especially since this is such a spirit-forward cocktail. I also think it’s a great introduction cocktail to mezcal with just a hint of smokiness.” —Fionna Gemzon, bar manager, None of The Above, St. Louis

“The Siesta! It’s a Katie Stipe cocktail, and Katie is one of the most prolific cocktail makers I have ever met. This cocktail was created when she and I worked together at Julie Reiner’s Flatiron Lounge. It is sort of a Mr. Potato Head version of a Hemingway Daiquiri with tequila and Campari.” —Lynnette Marrero, co-founder, Speed Rack

“There’s one tequila cocktail that’s always confused me as to why it’s not more popular: the Brave Bull, a.k.a. Toro Bravo. Traditionally, it’s tequila with Kalhua on the rocks, which is pretty good. But you can step it up by picking your favorite coffee liqueur and matching it with a tequila, ideally a reposado. This is such a step up from a Black Russian, which seems obvious when you consider that coffee grows much nearer to agave production than vodka’s wintery latitudes. If you want to enhance it further, a dash of molé or chile bitters will give the drink even more depth and interest.” —Rob Krueger, beverage director, Smith & Mills/Tiny’s, NYC

“The 21st Century, originally created by Jim Meehan in 2007 with the guidance of Audrey Saunders for New York’s Pegu Club. This cocktail hits on many levels. At first glance, it looks refreshing, served up with a lemon twist. As we get to the nose, we get a fragrance of anise and wormwood with herbaceous undertones. The citrus is there but not overpowering. On the first sip, a rich earthy agave spirit (blanco tequila) [offers] notes of vanilla, caramel, and black pepper. This is followed by acidity, but there’s something else: the crème de cacao sets in and you’re left with deep minerality, roasted hazelnuts, dried fruit, coffee bean, and light bitterness. This spirit also brings texture to the cocktail, creating a quite pleasant mouthfeel. The balance of this cocktail takes in the terroir and depth of its spirits. It’s also easily adjustable. Add curaçao or blanc vermouth, and you have a riff on a Corpse Reviver #2.” —Steven Hayden, bartender, Mulberry Street Ristorante, Fullerton, Calif.

“The tequila cocktail I wish people ordered more is Phil Ward’s Silver Monk. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and it’s one of our classics for Speed Rack. It consists of blanco tequila, yellow Chartreuse, lime juice, simple syrup, cucumber coins, mint leaves, and salt. It’s perfect for this time of year!” —Ivy Mix, co-owner, Leyenda/Whoopsie Daisy, Brooklyn

“Tequila Old Fashioned. An Old Fashioned cocktail is the perfect vehicle for tequila; the classic begs to celebrate the finesse of aging and the nuances of flavor. [It adds] subtleties of bitters and a whisper of syrup as to not overshadow the spirit, but bolster it and somehow make it taste more of itself. Salud!” —Mariena Mercer Boarini, master mixologist, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas

“I love a classic Paloma. It’s so refreshing; a perfect sipper. We do ours with a little Aperol, which really highlights the bitter notes of the grapefruit and gives the drink a little more depth and balance.” —Amber Garcia, bar manager, Tana, Metarie, La.

“Vicious Virgin #2. Not every bar has the technology to do this one right, but if you’re drinking somewhere with really fresh juice and a good syrup program, it’s a great deep cut to call. Originally adapted by Mariano Licudine, the “Houdini of Liquids,” this mix of tequila, grapefruit juice, orgeat, and blue curaçao served over pebble ice is a real treat on a hot day, and its eye-catching sea-foam color is sure to turn heads.” —Ian Adamczyk, beverage director, Proxi, Chicago

“The Avion de Papel really deserves more love! It brilliantly showcases the vegetal notes of blanco tequila, pairing them with the sharp tang of lemon juice. The Meletti amaro lends a rich, herbal complexity, and the Aperol introduces a bright, slightly bitter orange flavor that elevates the whole drink. This cocktail is a fantastic pick for anyone looking to enjoy tequila and dip their toes into the beautiful world of bitterness.” —Zach Reifert, bar manager, Ba Bar Capitol Hill, Seattle

“I love the bitter citrus that grapefruit adds to a Paloma. However, sometimes I prefer a non-carbonated drink. That’s when I turn to the Siesta. My favorite variation comes from the Speed Rack Cocktail Competition. It’s shaken and served up, [which highlights] the bright pepperiness of blanco tequila, [and is] balanced with the bittersweet combo of Campari and grapefruit and finished with lime and simple syrup. I garnish mine with a grapefruit zest to give it some punchy aromatics.” —Haley Merritt, head bartender, Midnight Rambler, Dallas

“The Mexican Martini. Admittedly, this is a pretty polarizing cocktail, but I love making them and when they’re done right, they’re a lot of fun. This is no place for swill tequila and it’s certainly no place to pack brine from that old jar of olives you’ve had forever. Use a good, additive-free blanco tequila and use a brine that is actually formulated specifically for use in cocktails. Better ingredients means better drinks, which means happier guests, which means more money for you!” —Claire Mallett, beverage director, Catch One, Los Angeles

“The national drink of Mexico: the Paloma. It’s simple, balanced, and refreshing with tequila, grapefruit, with a hint of lime and salt. It’s the perfect drink to enjoy any time of the year, but especially on a hot summer day.” —Mike di Tota, corporate bar manager, The Smith, Chicago

“For a tequila cocktail, I would love more people to get into the Siesta. The cocktail features Campari and tequila — a rarely seen mix of the quintessential Italian liqueur and tequila — along with grapefruit juice and lime juice. It is refreshing with a little bitterness from the Campari-grapefruit combo.” —Vince Vecchio, beverage director, Rosebud Restaurants, Chicago

“My pick is the Infante. We only think of tequila as going with lime or a ton of citrus. While there’s citrus in an Infante, the orgeat and rose water bring out a lot more of the mineral, floral, and nutty qualities of a good tequila. It really shows the spirit’s diversity, and it feels seasonal whatever time of year you make it.” —Haley Saucier, owner and beverage director, Espiritu Mezcaleria & Cocina, New Orleans

“I think a Tommy’s #2 is a cocktail people sleep on. Tequila, mezcal, lime, agave, orange slices. Omitting the orange liqueur allows the base spirits to shine through and offers a stiffer drink.” —Rob Crowe, general manager and beverage director, Bar Madonna, NYC

“I’d love to see more people order the Mexican Firing Squad. It’s a fun yet simple cocktail of tequila blanco, lime, grenadine and Angostura bitters. Full, complex flavor meets simplicity. It can be made anywhere and everyone will enjoy it!” —Gary Scneck, property mixologist, The Mirage, Las Vegas

“How many times has a Margarita not quite hit the spot? Maybe not too many times. But when you find yourself in that rare occurrence, I’d love to suggest the El Diablo. It’s a delightful spin on a buck that will quench the deepest of thirsts. It calls for a blanco, but I like to make mine with a bold reposado and float the cassis as opposed to shaking it with the rest of the ingredients. It’s rarely ordered, but it’s always enjoyed.” —Dalton Cousar, bartender, White Limozeen, Nashville

The article We Asked 17 Bartenders: What Tequila Cocktail Do You Wish People Ordered More? appeared first on VinePair.

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