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Tequilla reccomendations for a beginner


I am interested in giving Tequila a second chance. Yet I am not interested in spending an arm and a leg on it.

I am looking for something mostly (but not solely) for making cocktails. SO PLEASE DON'T start recommending all the premium brands like Patron, Riazul, Avion, Arta, Ocho etc...

Some of the brands available to me where I live that are in my price range include:

-Jose Cuervo
(Yes yes I know there are way better tequilas out there but this is whats available for my area, price range and needs)

Which of the aforementioned brands, available in oro and blanco/plata (as well as some anejo), do you recommend.

Thanks for your feedback.

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  1. Sauza seems to be a popular workhorse. I too would be interested to know if there is a better option at about the same price. I mix with it too, rather than sip it, so I'm not looking for $40 options. I do like my cocktails with lots of base spirit flavor, though.

    BTW, if you decide you like tequila, you might also like cachaca. Different beast, but similar flavor profile, at least for me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: EvergreenDan

      BTW, I meant Sauza Hornitos, their 100% agave offering.

    2. If it doesn't say "100% agave" or "100% blue agave", don't bother.

      9 Replies
      1. re: tommy

        Yeah this above, should say 100% agave or perhaps "100% de agave". Of course there's no guarantee that you'll like it even so, but there's no point in trying to find a better mixto (e.g. standard Cuervo, Sauza, etc.) If that's all you've got, then you can stop right here.

        Now each of those brands makes a 100% agave you could try (Sauza Hornitos, Cuervo Tradicional, also 1800 is a Cuervo brand), but they cost more.

        I don't know anything about Olmeca, but it looks to be not 100% from what I can see.

        Where I live, Lunazul Reposado is within a couple bucks of the Cuervo price. That would be one you could try if available. It's actually not bad for that price IMO. There is a silver/blanco but is not carried here. Also El Jimador here is the same price as standard Cuervo, with reposado or blanco at that price. The aforementioned Hornitos is usually within a couple bucks of the standard Cuervo price. I can also get Espolon silver within a couple bucks, but it costs a couple more to get the reposado.

        I live in a place with not a lot of selection (PA) so most places should get more selection than here. Now I don't know if our price is artificially high for Cuervo, low for the others, or some combo. It's a crapshoot with the state stores, never can tell where they've priced these things compared to the typical market in other states.

        None of these are break the bank type bottles. The Cuervo mixtos cost 20 bucks. El Jimador is the same price. The highest priced one in the rest of my suggestions is Espolon reposado at $25. (Actually, I think the Cuervo Tradicional costs a buck or two more than that.) That's what I have to pay here. If you get to pay $10 for Cuervo Gold, then we're just all getting screwed in PA as usual. But then the others should be cheaper as well.

        I'd say try a reposado first, although you get perhaps the truest agave flavor (but a harsher sip generally) from a blanco/silver. But if you can't get a 100% agave bottle below your absolute price limit, then the exercise is moot, even, IMO, for mixing.

        (Although, okay, to be fair, I've been known to drink a house margarita at one local restaurant. It's not as good as the upgrade margarita, but it's drinkable. I believe they do, in fact, use Sauza and not Cuervo. It's hard to imagine it matters whether the mixto is gold or silver, hehe. I think that is just a ploy to make it appear more like the 100% agave bottles.)

        1. re: CrazyOne

          Thank you for the reply. But I have two problems:

          1: I am not in the US. So the mixtos cost premium price and the 100% agave ... well lets just say you have to take out a mortgage (j/k but not far off from reality)

          2: I was looking to make cocktails with the tequila. I think you are being a bit unreasonable. Either premium 100% agave or nothing. That's like saying: "only drink single malts, even for cocktails. No blended whiskys."

          First of all I believe that for cocktails you don't want to use garbage but you also don't need something like The Dalmore Trinitas 64 y/o ($160,000 a bottle).

          In fact why would you want to waste a decent spirit in your cocktail that's being watered down slightly with ice and mixed with other spirits, juices and bitters. When I make a Rob Roy I use Chivas or Johny Walker not The MacAllen. Same when I make a Manhattan, I use regular bourbon and not some single barrel $60 brand. However when I want to drink a spirit by its self then I'll break out that bottle of The MacAllen, Ardbeg, Highland Park, Carragenmore, etc...

          All I am asking is of the above types of Mixtos that you are acquainted with which makes a decent cocktail.

          "Good" Tequila is scarce and expensive due to import taxes by me and frankly I would rather invest in Scotch single malts, Irish pure pot stills, Calvados, Cognacs, etc... and have some decent Gin, Rum, Cachaca and Tequila on hand for cocktails.

          Still I will try to see if there are any 100% agave tequilas around in my range

          1. re: Faune

            Tequilas tend to be more expensive for a similar quality than a lot of other spirits like gin, rum, or whiskey. In that way tequila is like brandy. There's not a lot of point in debating whether Christian Brothers or E&J will make a better Sidecar, because most people will find either one pretty unpleasant.

            Now it also depends on what you plan to mix the tequila with. If you are going to make a tequila sunrise with orange juice from concentrate, it won't matter what tequila you use. Same thing if you use bottled sour mix and cheap triple sec for a margarita. Now if you're using fresh lime juice and Cointreau, you probably want to use 100% agave tequila, because the mixtos will not make a great drink and you will waste the Cointreau and the effort you put into juicing the limes.

            You have to decide whether a mixto is good enough for your drinks or not, preferably by tasting it before you have to buy a full-size bottle.

            Liquor prices also vary wildly by location. I can get a 100% agave tequila (Agavales) much cheaper than a bottle of Chivas where I live.

            1. re: Faune

              A mixto is only 51% tequila, essentially (technically 51% agave). It can be more, has to be at least 51%, but it isn't likely to be more because it's the non-agave part, usually sugar cane, that's cheaper. Not the same as blended vs single malt IMO. It's basically the same as you don't want to use garbage. The difference here is, well, despite the advertising and retailers wanting to tell you there are levels of mixtos, they're all garbage. ;-)

              Have a read here for example: http://www.ianchadwick.com/tequila/pu... Here's a good quote about how 70% of tequila in US is used in margaritas, and that most of the sales are in mixtos: "That's in part because of a popular notion that it's a waste to use premium tequilas in margaritas or other mixed drinks. It isn't: 100% agave tequilas make better margaritas."

              I'm sure wherever you are the brands available will be different than here, and it's entirely possible that whatever 100% agave bottles you can find won't really be that great anyway. Or perhaps it's so uncommon that they only bring in really expensive ones. Perhaps they are in fact worth that cost, but there is a limit to what is worth mixing in a drink. It's just that the limit is not below the bottom of the 100% agave line but instead somewhere in the middle of the 100% agave range. BTW, Patron is not a good brand to strive for, even if you can get it. Because tequila is a growing segment, there's a fair amount of marketing hype even in the 100% agave brands. Patron is decidedly average, for a price that's higher than some other possibilities that can be equally good or better.

              In the end, if you'd rather invest in other types of expensive spirits, that's fine. Which of the mixtos you listed is the least of your concerns at that point. I'd say don't bother buying any tequila at all. But, if you want to have one on hand, pick whatever is cheapest and be done with it. Just don't mix it with any other high quality stuff, because it will be a big waste of the other stuff (fresh squeezed juice, Cointreau, etc, all very good stuff for your margarita, pricey, and wasted if you mix it with Cuervo Especial and the like).

              There is a type of drink where it would matter and yes a type where it wouldn't, I suppose, except that the nasty mixto is more likely to give you a hangover in addition to not tasting that good. There's a reason you're calling this giving it a second chance, after all, right? I don't know what it is for you, but for people in this country the "tequila=hell no" usually comes from that they never had a worse hangover than after doing shots of crappy mixto. ;-) But I mean if you're making a long island iced tea or something, I suppose it really doesn't matter then. ;-) If you want to make a really good margarita or other drinks where tequila is the main alcohol flavor, though, it's not going to happen with the mixto.

              1. re: CrazyOne

                I agree with the CrazyOne completely. If you can only budget for mixtos, don't bother. It's not some effete, elitist crapola. It's simply not tequila. To correct your analogy to scotch whiskies: It's not the same a comparing blends vs single malts; it's comparable to comparing a single malt with a low-end whisky diluted with 49% cheap vodka.

                Here (California) the best value 100% agave tequila is (need I add, IMHO) Milagro @ $20ish/750ml. But if you're forced to select among your listed choices, I would say: Just flip a coin. It ain't gonna matter. They'll all make the same poor excuse for a margarita and you won't want to drink any of them neat.


                Also, seconding the comments on Patron. Many, many better choices.

                1. re: Gustavo Glenmorangie

                  @ Gustavo and Crazy
                  Blended whiskys usually contain neutral grain spirit, meaning that they blend malt whiskys together with the equivalent of vodka. Isn't that similar as a mixto which is a mix of at least half agave and sugarcane based spirits?

                  See Wikipedia:
                  "A blended whisky (or whiskey) is the product of blending different types of whiskies. It is generally the product of mixing one or more single malt whiskies (made from 100 percent malted grain such as barley or rye) together with other grain whiskies or neutral grain spirits."


                  So it would seem SIMILAR (not the same) as the Mixto Tequila

                  For some perspective, Sauza Hornitos costs ~$91(import tax is a pain) by me so you can guess what the others cost.

                  In any case I am going to try and see if I can get a friend who is traveling to try to find me some of the 100% agave stuff in a duty free shop if they can, or the next time I travel for business or to see the folks I'll get it for myself.

                  I am a big Whisky/Whiskey, Gin and brandy fan and I just wanted to give tequila a second chance. I see that the only fair thing to do would be to go for a 100% agave this time round... even if that means I have to wait a bit.

                  It's just a pity because I have a ton of limes now and they will soon be unavailable untill next year... I guess that means more Caipirinhas, Pegu clubs, etc... for now.

                  Thanks you all for your help...

                  Just one more question which 100% agaves are widely available and don't make a huge dent in your wallet?

                  1. re: Gustavo Glenmorangie

                    Milagro silver is around the same price in my area (upstate NY) and is a very good value tequila IMO as well.

                  2. re: CrazyOne

                    @ Crazyone

                    I just read the article in the link included in your post it was very comprehensive and helped clear up a lot.

                    Thank you.

                2. re: CrazyOne

                  I bought a bottle of Lunazul Repo on sale for $16 a while back, not good stuff even for the money. I didn't think it was all that bad until I tried it next to some 1800 Repo - then I noticed a distinct soapy taste. The 1800 Repo is decent - smooth but a little bland, compared to the El Conquistador Repo I got a couple weeks ago.

              2. I find this a perplexing post. Apparently you've tried tequilla before. It would be helpful then to know what you have and haven't liked about it in the past. You did mention that you plan to use it in cocktails which is helpful. But we can't tell you what you will like or not like in a tequilla without some additional info. What's considered the "best" for straight or cocktails may not be to your liking

                7 Replies
                1. re: Chinon00

                  There is not much that is or should be perplexing about this post. Peoples tastes change, mature. Some people like to try new things or give old things a chance. Not everyone is born with a set of given tastes which stay constant their whole lives.

                  That having been said...

                  I had a few straight shots of tequila years ago, I am talking like, at least 4 yrs ago, I don't remember the brand but I am pretty sure it was a Mixto and I remember two things I didn't like about it at the time were: the taste and the headache. Since then I have not touched the stuff. I know there are better brands of tequilas and now I know there is a huge difference between Mixto and 100% Agave.

                  I appreciate many spirits: Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Bourbon, Cognac, Calvados, fruit brandies, Gin, Aperitifs, Digestifs, Anise, Rum, Rhum Agricole, Cachaca etc... You get the picture.

                  Yes, I know there are more refined spirits and less refined, but I just don't need tequila like congac, single malt scotch, calvados, etc... for sipping. I was interested in exploring tequila in cocktails (although I am not so sure about that now due to a number of reasons).


                  1. re: Faune

                    I agree with you that tastes change over time. Therefore why not give any brand a try? You might now enjoy Mixto. Again with no specifics provided as to why you didn't like it I fail to see what path anyone could reasonably guide you down approximating what you'd like. My suggestions then: everything you can get your hands on once.

                    1. re: Chinon00

                      "Again with no specifics provided as to why you didn't like it"

                      See Faune Above:
                      "I am pretty sure it was a Mixto and I remember two things I didn't like about it at the time were: the taste and the headache."

                      1. re: Faune

                        If asked what you don't like about a beverage isn't a response of "the taste" a rather vague one? For example I presently prefer any quality silver over both anejo or reposado as I desire an intimacy with the fruit character of Tequilla. Anejo is nice but it hides too much of the fruit and ends up tasting closer to a whisky. Reposado is a nice middle ground as the wood adds some elegance.

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          Well four years is a long time so its hard for me to say. I do believe it had a slightly yellow/gold hue to it so I am guessing it was a Reposado Mixto as opposed to a Plata Mixto?

                          1. re: Faune

                            Do you like agave nectar? If you can find that in your area try it before spending on the tequila. While not exactly the same, if you cannot stomach the agave nectar then it's the tequila taste itself you probably didn't like.

                            1. re: pthaloearth

                              Agave nectar tastes more like honey than it does tequila. In fact I don't sense any flavors of tequila in agave nectar whatsoever.

                2. Can you get Casadores? I think it's an excellent 100% agave tequila at a fairly affordable price. Of what you can get, I don't know Olmeca but wouldn't bother with the other two.

                  If you ever get into the Patron price range, skip the Patron and spend the money on some Don Julio.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: andytee

                    Thanks for the advice, I will check it out.

                    1. re: andytee

                      Totally agree on Casadores; it's our house tequila for cocktails, but could be sipped neat if someone wanted.

                      Also agree on the Patron. It's just really not that interesting for the price.

                    2. Hey Faune, it's great that you're still looking to branch out even though you already enjoy so many different spirits. Tequila is a great one, with lots of history and craftsmanship. It can indeed be appreciated like scotch or brandy: just take a look at tequila.net, which is full of connoisseurs and reviews. According to them, by the way, you're much better off with the Sauza than the Jose as far as mixtos.

                      In reference to the blended whiskey/cocktail thing, here's the deal: mixtos are often not aged. Many get their color from dyes, and only 51% of them is actual 'tequila de agave' and the other half is basically cheap unaged white rum straight off the still. Rough stuff. Scotch on the other hand must be at least 3 years old by law, which means that the single grain whiskies in a blended scotch must themselves be at least 3 years old in oak. And I still wouldn't use something like Old Smuggler, Clan Macgregor, or Grant's in a Rob Roy. For what it's worth, I used Highland Park 12 in a Rob Roy once with Noilly Prat dry and Peychaud's and it was excellent.

                      Margaritas showcase tequila really well and while I wouldn't use a fine $100+ extra anejo in a cocktail, a great $50 blanco like Casa Noble can really shine using fresh ingredients. But just like other spirits, your taste needs to be developed before you can appreciate the subtleties, so I would say grab the Sauza and have yourself a party!

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: JayMad

                        Thank you so much JayMad. This was the kind of response I was looking for in terms of your approach.

                        I've already visited tequila.net multiple times, and see what your saying about the blended thing. But, either way those blended Whiskys contain harsh un-aged grain alcohol in them. Thanks as well for clearing up that Anejo and Reposado don't really matter when it comes to Mixtos.

                        I am a big fan of Highland park 12 but I personally would be afraid to "waste" it in a Rob Roy, on the other hand maybe I'll give that a try as well.

                        After years of experimenting with various spirits I learned that, as you have said, most of the time your taste needs developed before one can really appreciate the subtleties. I didn't get into Cachaca or Calvados overnight.

                        I am going to try to order some shots of mixtos and 100% agave next time I get a chance to.

                        Thanks again.

                        1. re: Faune

                          I just wanted to respond to your comment "those blended Whiskys contain harsh un-aged grain alcohol in them." Actually NGS (neutral grain spirits) don't tend to be harsh, just flavorless. they are basically just pure ethanol, nothing else, so nothing there to be harsh. And especially after being brought down to proof. It's the whiskey in the blend that would be harsh, and/or inferior.

                          As for using a good scotch like the Highland 12 in a cocktail. A cocktail is only as good as the ingredients. I only use premium spirits in the cocktails I make, and only get cocktails in bars that use premium ingredients.

                          1. re: JMF

                            OK. Maybe harsh was the wrong word. But it still has neutral grain spirits, i.e. unflavored filler alcohol which is not whisky in it.

                            Regarding the second part of your answer, that is your opinion. I have heard from bartenders and other alcohol aficionados the opposite. According to THEM since there is so much sugary/acidic fillers and ice going into the cocktail its better to put not dirt cheap but not premium stuff into a cocktail, as JayMad said, this is because the taste does get masked.

                            As for me I am not sure yet as to what should go into a cocktail. I do know what I like I drink whether its "premium" or not. "Premium", or the fact that it costs more does not always make it better. Take the example of Plymouth gin before the prices doubled. Years ago, before Plymouth became renowned, I was able to get a bottle (the old design, ahh I miss it) for ~$15. Back then it was not "considered" a "top shelf, premium gin" and not everyone was raving about it.

                            While we are nitpicking... I do agree with you on one thing, so I will quote you on this:

                            "And I tend to agree, I think that a strong, rough, funky, industrial cachaca really goes better [in a caipirinha] with the lime juice and oils, and the sugar smooths it out."
                            By JMF on Oct 23, 2010 06:45PM


                            I agree the silver industrial cachaca goes better in a caipirinha than the gold industrial cachaca. So hear you are saying to use something in a cocktail that is not "premium". If so than what do you say about a margarita, daiquiri, Mojito, etc...?

                            1. re: Faune

                              Depends upon the cocktail. I was very specific about the caipirinha. It is a cocktail that has a large proportion of lime juice and oils.On the other hand, a classic daiquri is almost the same drink, but premium aged rum makes a better one. This is because only the juice is used in a daiquri.

                              In general I think a cocktail is only as good as the ingredients, and premium quality (not premium priced) ingredients make better cocktails. A finely crafted cocktail doesn't mask the flavors of the spirits, but complements, and even accentuates them. The bartenders, mixologists, and cocktail and spirits experts I know all agree on this. I don't know what bartendeers and aficionados you speak to about this, but I speak on a daily basis with many of the top, recognized, award winning ones in the world.

                              When I use the term premium, I am talking about the actual quality of the spirit, not the price point or marketing drivel.

                              As for Plymouth, it has always been considered a premium gin by those in the know. Heck, it's the only gin in its category of Plymouth style gin. And people begged to have it brought back in the country after it wasn't imported for a decade or two. I don't really enjoy how they repositioned themselves to the higher price category, I drank a lot more when it was under $20, but I have to respect the great job Simon did with that for Plymouth.

                              1. re: JMF

                                The Bartenders and aficionados were referring to what JayMad Was saying "wouldn't use a fine $100+ extra anejo in a cocktail"

                                "When I use the term premium, I am talking about the actual quality of the spirit, not the price point or marketing drivel. "

                                In that case we are in complete agreement.

                                Thanks for your reply.

                            2. re: JMF

                              I agree that the quality of the ingredients certainly affects the quality of the final product. It seems more with the Margarita than with other cocktails. For me there is one mixto that makes a great Margarita. That is Sauza Conmemorativo. When blended with Cointreau and freshly squeezed lime juice, it seems the perfect drink. IMHO this mixto is of high quality. Bought some on sale for $19/Ltr. plus tax.

                            3. re: Faune

                              I like it better neat, I just thought I'd try the cocktail. It's cheap by me and I always have a bottle so I gave it a shot. Teacher's is my preferred mixer scotch, Chivas is fine but Teacher's much cheaper.

                              Don't be afraid to try it, why not? I'd never drown a premium spirit but a vermouth drink or Old Fashioned can gain a lot of depth with better liquor.

                              BTW the blended scotches do not have un-aged grain alcohol ie vodka. Every single drop of the different whiskies is aged at least 3 years by law then blended. It's all whisky.

                              1. re: JayMad

                                Readers of this thread (including me) may be getting confused about GNS because sometimes from the post you can tell that we're talking about scotch and other times its not clear. GNS can be in blended American whiskey, but not in blended Scotch whisky, according to wikipedia.

                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                  Good point Dan about NGS is in American (and Canadian) blended whiskey, but not blended Scotch. Which is a blend of single malt and single grain whiskeys, aged at least three years.

                                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                                    I think you meant NGS? Not GNS.

                                    Just to clear that point up:

                                    SCOTCH BLENDED WHISKY

                                    "As the word implies, blends are the result of mixing different whiskies together, including both single malts and grain whiskies. Located mainly in the Lowlands , the 14 Scottish grain distilleries produce grain spirits (which are in fact whiskies, not, as is sometimes misinterpreted, neutral grain spirits), made primarily from corn (maize). They are distilled in tall, column stills, a method that is faster and less expensive than the pot still. "


                                    Either way the point is that they are blended with some slightly different form of alcohol...

                                    1. re: Faune

                                      I think we have slightly veered off of tequila here.

                                      Faune, I would be careful of which sites you use for information. While that page you linked to has most of the information correct, I spotted a mistake right away in the first sentence on bourbon vs. corn whiskey. Bourbon can be made of 100% corn. The difference is that bourbon has to be stored in new, charred oak barrels.Corn whiskey has to have a minimum of 80% corn and is stored in used, charred barrels, or new, uncharred barrels. Also do you see how I say "stored'? That is the legal definition. How long isn't part of it. To be called a 'straight' whiskey it has to be stored for two years in the barrel.

                                      There were a few others as well like the definition of Tennessee whiskey which was all nonsense. Tennessee whiskey just has to be a whiskey made (or even just bottled) in Tennessee. The charcoal filtering, called the Lincoln County process, isn't part of the definition, and even that process isn't really a big deal. Almost all whiskey is charcoal filtered.

                                      So, besides minor misinformation is also it doesn't fully define some of the categories, leaving out important information.

                                      As a distiller, I have the following pdf (see below) on my desktop and refer to it quite often. (I'm not perfect and make mistakes, there is so much technical stuff to know.) Of course this applies to spirits made and bottled in the US for US domestic sale. Other countries have their own definitions that can differ slightly, or even drastically. some countries can call a product whiskey, or even scotch whiskey, and it doesn't even have grain in it and is technically a rum. The EU and the US are having a discussion because while the US uses the UK definition for Scotch whisky. the EU uses the same UK definition for all American whiskeys, and not the US definitions. So many products can't be labeled as whiskey in the EU and have to be labeled as grain spirits, or not sold there at all.


                                      1. re: JMF

                                        Yeah I think your right that we veered off the topic...

                                        I only quoted a small segment of text to illustrate a point, and payed no heed to the other things which you pointed out as wrong. I usually am more careful as to my sources but that quote summed up our little misconception so nicely.

                                        Thanks for the PDF. I really appreciate it.

                            4. Faune, you may want to become familiar with the custom of sipping an agave reposado neat, with a companion glass of sangrita. It's standard for many folks.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Veggo

                                Um can Friday get here already?

                              2. Look for 100% Blue Agave tequila. There are several that are not going to cost an arm and a leg. For mixing a blanco or silver tequila is fine. For sipping a reposado or anjeo is preferred. There are many brands that are not common to all liquor stores so do a search of your store and find the 100% Blue Agave tequilas that meet your budget and if you need feed back shoot a post before buying.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                  Blancos are fine for sipping, too. I wouldn't discount them wholesale.

                                2. Cuervo Gold. Good price, good taste, and if yu're mixing cocktails you just don't need 100% blue agave, the taste will be masked by the mixers.

                                  16 Replies
                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                      Cuervo Gold is what gives tequila a bad name. That stuff is pure evil.

                                      Good cocktails come from good ingredients. No need to use the best of the best, but 100% agave is 100% necessary in any tequila-based cocktail, especially a true margarita.

                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        I wasn't going to say anything about Cuervo Gold, but I have lived several years in Mexico and CG is considered to be laughable tourist swill there.

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          Okay, fine, but it's tequila, it's not too pricey,, and it mixes well. I believe that's what the OP was asking for. Why turn this into a tequila snob contest?

                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                            I'm passing along a consensus opinion from those in the country where it is all made. No snobbery. I don't drink it so I don't have an opinion about it.

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              It's considered the same north of the Rio Grande as well.

                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                Just wondering then Veggo what's the affordable tequilla of the people in Mexico?


                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                  Los Abuelos and Cazadores are good quality budget brands. Many middle class and affluent in Mexico enjoy premium brands like Herradura, which costs about 1/3 less there than here. Some have their own super premium "private label" in big jugs from small producers, with snazzy calligraphed labels with the family name(s) on them, for special guests. That's how I learned about the sangrita custom. By the way, all bottled sangrita is crap, and it's easy to make. I use tomato-orange-and lime juices in a 3-2-1 ratio, with S&P, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. I serve tequila and sangrita in small snifters; shot glasses are tacky and clumsy.
                                                  The lower income in Mexico don't drink much tequila, other than some no-name brands of mixto that are so inexpensive one wonders if they are safe, let alone how they taste. The cheapest alcohol buzz there is the quart bottles of Corona and Carta Blanca, called "magnas". And they sell lots of them.
                                                  Be alert for interesting mezcals, also. Some are incredible.

                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                      Cazadores is not exactly budget up here. The Blanco was $28 and the Reposado was, as I recall, north of $40.

                                                      "Interesting Mezcals" are hard to come by around here.<little pouty face>

                                                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                        Wow, the Blanco is, like, $19.99 where I am (near Boston).

                                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                          I just got cazadores blanco on sale in PA for $18.

                                                    2. re: Veggo

                                                      I have a bottle of Cuervo Gold that is about 16 years old..Just cannot finish it.

                                                      Please try to find SAUZA CONMENORATIVO. It is a mixto but tastes good and mixes great.

                                                      I learned about it in the early 1980's.. I was a sound engineer and was mixing live music at the time. Paul Butterfield, famous for blues harmonica player insisted on Conmemorativo being in the dressing room prior to each show. Rick Danko and Paul Butterfield at Carnegie Hall was one of my finest memories of my sound mixing career. Paul and Rick are long gone, but the Sauza is still great.

                                                2. OK I found another possibility: is El Jimador a mixto or a 100% agave and is it any good?

                                                  In the article that crazyone linked to they mention that El Jimador used to be 100% but it is now a mixto. On the El Jimador website the bottles say 100% agave so whats up with that?

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Faune

                                                    As noted, if it says 100% agave on the bottle, it's 100% agave.

                                                    1. re: Faune

                                                      I thought of mentioning El Jimador and Hornitos as decent all agave values, forgot.

                                                      1. re: Faune

                                                        1800 silver and reposado are on sale this week at $32 plus tax for 1.75 ltr. Both are 100% agave. Is this a good deal?

                                                      2. Since I couldn't find any 100% agave I went with a mixto just to give tequila a second chance. I picked up an older bottle of Olmeca, the label said "Anejo" but I believe it is the same as what is now labeled either "Gold" or "Reposado".

                                                        I started off with a margarita, some fresh lime juice and cointreau, and it was pretty good so I moved on to a tequila sunrise and then, finally on to sipping a shot of it neat. And I must say, I like it! its got floral, sweet-fruits, pepper and slightly smokey notes. Yes I feel the non agave alcohol but still it pretty good.

                                                        All I gotta say is that I liked it and I am definitely going to try to find a bottle of 100% agave.

                                                        Thanks for all your help.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Faune

                                                          Glad you gave it another whirl. Tequila is my crack.

                                                          1. re: Faune

                                                            On a parallel thread I mentioned El Charro, 100% agave reposado that I bought for $13 last week and it is a nice surprise. Be on the lookout!

                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                              I would say the same thing about one I picked up in Florida while on vacation, Don Sergio - I got the anejo for $25 I think the repo and blanco were around $20. I liked the anejo quite a bit and wish I had just gone ahead and grabbed all three.

                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                I see a lot of the El Charro Mixto by me. I will look out for their 100% agave offering now that you mentioned it.

                                                                Thanks Veggo.

                                                            2. I've had most of the major tequilas that run less than $50 a bottle. I'd say that you can get pretty good tequila for less than $30 a bottle and disappointing stuff for $70. But my all-time favorite really cheap tequila is Pepe Lopez silver/plata. Yes, it's a mixto. And, yes, it looks really marginal, bordering on rotgut/cheesy. But I've consumed it straight up many times and was much happier than when I drank the mixtos from Cuervo, Sauza, or whoever. Don't bother with cheap mixto tequilas sold as "gold", because in that price range it's usually only food coloring.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Pzz

                                                                I have heard really good things about Espolon and finally managed to pick up a couple bottles when I was in PA for Christmas. I have to say it's very good for the money, the repo is infinitely better than Lunazul at about the same price point and the blanco is about on par with Patron at less than half the price.

                                                                Both the blanco and the repo have decent flavor and are very smooth. Neither is as flavorful as the best I have had so far - Corazon blanco and El Conquistador repo - but both of those are a fair bit more expensive.

                                                              2. Keep in mind that a quality tequila is constituted from 100% blue agave. As for finding tequila for a decent price, the ones we serve at the bars I have worked in NYC are Espolon ($20 per bottle), Casadores is great, as well as 1800 or Herradurra ( my personal favorite). They are good alone, and fantastic in margaritas especially when all of the ingredients are as fresh as possible. I hope this was helpful.

                                                                Follow me on Twitter @BK_Mixologist

                                                                1. I have been reading the tequila / margarita discussions here, fascinating and great to see tequila being appreciated. I was curious as to why no one had mentioned Herradura (except for the very last comment by BKMixologist). As someone said earlier, there is often a lot of hype for new brandnames, but that's what it is, just hype and cool bottles. I have found that Herradura Reposado, which has been around forever, is consistently good quality to sip (also to mix). Is it hard to find in the US?

                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                  1. re: mgarrom

                                                                    I mentioned Herradura above, in my Oct. 29, 2010 post. Their reposado is my favorite premium, along with sangrita. But the thread is about tequila for beginners, and Herradura & sangrita is for experienced aficionados. It is widely available. Just look for the horseshoe label on the crowded tequila shelves.

                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                      What's your favorite sangrita recipe? Anyone using fresh tomatoes? I found these:

                                                                      None of them is speaking to me, though. I think if I'm going to use it with good tequila, I'd want fresh ingredients. The one with fresh tomatoes and canned frozen juice is kind of odd to me.

                                                                      www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community.

                                                                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                        My usual is 3-2-1 tomato juice, orange juice, lime juice, plus Worcestershire, Tabasco, S&P. I use V8 because it has more body than fresh tomato juice. Actually I have never tried it with fresh tomato juice; maybe it's a good idea? I use fresh natural strength orange juice - as I live principally in FL this is not difficult, and honeybells in their short season work really well, and then fresh lime or key lime juice. It shouldn't be so overspiced that it overwhelms the contributing taste of the OJ. I use the 3-4oz. or so glasses you see in beer flights for the 2 beverages. Shot glasses are tacky for what is a refined and comfortable experience.

                                                                    2. re: mgarrom

                                                                      Apparently at one time Herradura was one of the very best but in 2002 they switched over to using a diffuser and the product is not nearly as good. I have a bottle of the silver I paid $28 for due to a misprice on the internet (should have been $37), and I like it but don't love it. In the same $35-40 price range I have had several tequilas that put it to shame - casa noble crystal, Siete Leguas blanco, El tesoro, Cuervo Platino (prices on it have dropped a lot recently) to name a few.

                                                                      I have heard good things about their reposado but have yet to try it. I did quite like the Don Julio repo I had a while back.

                                                                      1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                        The DJ Anejo is even better if you can find it north of the mex border. I brought back several bottles from Cancun in December, sadly I'm almost out : (
                                                                        Cazadores is palatable if you're on a budget. DJ Respo is $99 up here (Ontario) ouch.

                                                                        1. re: ephnright

                                                                          Wow I'm glad I don't live in Canada, i'd either have to get a second mortgage or quit drinking.

                                                                          DJ Repo is on sale next month here for $40 (reg $44), I might think about picking up a bottle, since that is as good a price as I see anywhere online.

                                                                          1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                            Werd. Quitting isn't in the cards for this guy so Tequila consumption is minimal (probably for the best ayway) Good booze is spendy up here. It's strictly regulated and you can only buy through specific outlets called LCBO (it's a crown corporation). I'd rather that than discount liquor stores on street corners. I do wish I could buy on line and have it imported, but it's illegal. Your price for DJ is sweet! Cheapest I saw DJ respo in Mexico was $35.

                                                                          2. re: ephnright

                                                                            I picked up a couple bottles of cazadores Anejo for $25 on closeout in PA a few weeks back, I like it - not my favorite but good. Also got the blanco on sale for $18, not as crazy about it, definitely one that improves with time in wood - and I generally like blancos the best.

                                                                            1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                              Cazadores runs about $40 up here.
                                                                              Not a blanco fan at all, only for mixing.. but I drink very few mixed drinks. Coffee , water, beer and good hard booze for me . I typically drink all my spirits neat so I don't generally cheap out. Mind you ,I haven't tried many. What do you recommend for a good blanco to drink neat (is there one?)

                                                                              1. re: ephnright

                                                                                There are lots of good blancos for sipping IF you like the taste of agave. i have had four that really stand out, and a few that are pretty decent.

                                                                                1) Casa Noble Crystal
                                                                                2) Cuervo de la fanilia Platino
                                                                                3) Fortaleza
                                                                                4) Siete Leguas
                                                                                Others I like but are IMO a step below these 4 :
                                                                                Corralejo, Corazon, Herradura, Asom Broso.

                                                                                Ain inexpensive one that is very good is El Ultimo, which can be had for $15-20.

                                                                                A lot of people love Espolon, though I find it too mild to get very enthusiastic over - but if you don't love the taste of agave, this would be a good one to try. It's comparable to patron at half the price.

                                                                          3. re: ncyankee101

                                                                            Well, I always drank Herradura reposado, never the white one. But you might be right about some change... I just opened a new bottle of reposado the other day and had the impression that it wasn't quite as good as it used to...
                                                                            There is a great tequila that I got as a gift, it's called "El Zorro", I think it's from a family provider, so it's probably hard to get outside of Mexico. If you ever come across it, I highly recommend it.