Though Margaritas are essentially the drinks equivalent of American comfort food, in their native home of Mexico, it’s the Paloma that actually reigns. The appeal of the refreshingly tart drink is evident; it’s effortless in construction and crushability. The best tequilas to use in the classic keep that in mind.
When selecting the base spirit, bartenders say they look for notes that can balance out the drink’s bittersweet grapefruit. For some, that means an expression with pronounced earthy, vegetal and saline qualities. Kristina Magro, beverage director of Chicago’s California Clipper, says these flavors “act as a great backbone to the cocktail without overpowering the grapefruit.” Others, like Resa Mueller, bartender at Philadelphia’s R&D, look to match that citrus flavor via a bright tequila with a clean finish.
So which brands fit the bill? To find out, we asked a handful of bartenders for their recommendations. According to them, here are the five tequilas to seek out, at every price point.