Professor Cocktail’s Recommended Tequilas

tequila bar

The world of tequila operates, to a large extent, in the shadows. The basics are known: Agave tequilana (aka Blue Webar Agave) is harvested and cooked, the juice is extracted and distilled, and the result is tequila. But, as always, the devil is in the details.

There are many spirits companies that utilize production methods that are not only not evenly remotely traditional (despite their frequent claims), but they can even be damaging, both to the agave ecosystem and to the environment. And the resulting product often resembles true tequila is only a casual fashion.

As a result, I have put together a list of recommended tequilas. These are brands that use either traditional methods, or reasonable modern versions of them. (For example, they may use a stainless steel autoclave rather than a clay horno to steam the agave.)

In most cases, that means these are made by smaller companies, and thus their products may be harder to find and/or more expensive. But I think you’ll find that the effort is worth it.

I have not tried all of these (yet) myself. Living in a state like Virginia that is very un-tequila-friendly makes it challenging. But all of the products on this list are regarded as being at least good by the tequila community, and most of them are held in high esteem.

If you purchase or drink any of the tequilas on this list, you can be sure that you are getting a high quality product that is either made in the traditional fashion, or at least replicates it using modern techniques that I, at least, consider acceptable. (And, above all else, responsibly made tequilas do not use a diffuser at any stage of production.)

Responsibly Made Tequilas

123 Tequila
Blue Nectar
Casa Noble
El Tesoro
Familia Camarena
Olmeca Altos
Pueblo Viejo
Siembra Azul/Siembra Valles
Siete Leguas
Tequila Cabeza
Tequila Ocho
Villa Lobos

I would also like to list a few brands that have some questions about them, but are still, in my opinion, good products that I enjoy drinking.

Don Julio
Maestro Dobel

If you have any additions to or suggestions about the list, please email me or visit us on Facebook.


Five Tequilas I Like to Drink

Cinco de Mayo is coming up, so you’re probably going to drink some tequila. A lot of people think they don’t like tequila — it seems a lot of us have had more bad experiences with it than any other spirit. But most of that is due to over-consumption and, even more importantly, drinking lousy tequila.

Tequila is an amazing spirit: delicious, versatile, and affordable. Its vibrant, earthy flavor and balance of spicy and sweet is a real revelation. You just need to make sure you buy a good brand. (Most important tip: the label must say “100% agave” on it.)

This is not a list of the best, nor the cheapest, nor anything like that. This is simply the tequilas I’ve found myself drinking the most of in recent months — and I like all of them.


Tequila Cabezo Blanco (1L, $37)

The newest tequila on this list, and one that is becoming a favorite of mine, even though I’ve only enjoyed it on a few occasions. Designed by the world-class bartenders of The 86 Co., this is a tequila formulated for cocktails that is delicious to drink on its own. Spicy and fruity while still retaining a pleasant lightness, the additional proof (43% abv) helps it shine bright even when mixed.

Tequila Don Julio Blanco (750ml, $45)

This is the tequila I reach for when I want to drink something elegant and smooth, but still bursting with flavor. It’s not cheap, but I think it’s a great example of how a big company can do things right.

Espolon Silver Tequila (750ml, $22)

This is the “everyday” tequila I use most often. Makes great Margaritas or Palomas, and is always a crowd-pleaser. It has the basic flavors you expect from a blanco tequila, all combined in a silky whole. It doesn’t have the big, vibrant flavor of something like Tapatio, so it’s an excellent entry-level tequila.

Tequila Tapatio Blanco (1L, $30)

This might be my favorite tequila of all. It’s briny and sweet, and vegetal and spicy, all in amazing balance with each other. This is my go-to tequila for people who want to try something more sophisticated. The only thing wrong with it is that it’s hard to find.

Familia Camarena Silver Tequila (750ml, $20)

Probably my favorite “budget” tequila, you can often find this on sale for under $18. It tastes good and mixes well, and while it lacks the balance of some of the others on this list,  it’s solid and reliable and easy to find.


Cocktail Recipe: Paloma




  • 2 oz. Blanco Tequila
  • 1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2-3 oz. Grapefruit Soda
  • Kosher Salt, if desired
  • Lime Wedge, for garnish


  1. In a highball or collins glass, add tequila and lime juice. Add ice and stir. Top with grapefruit soda and garnish with a lime wedge.
  2. If desired, the rim of the glass can be coated with salt prior to filling. Or, for ease of preparation, the salt can be added directly to the drink.


For grapefruit soda, I like San Pelegrino Pompelmo.