Tequila With a Twist: 10 Cocktails We’re Mixing Up This Summer

Tacos & Tequila


Nothing — and we repeat NOTHING — says summer like a refreshing tequila cocktail. Preferably beside the ocean or a pool, with a taco in the other hand, but we won’t get nit-picky. This season, say goodbye to your boring old tequila soda or sour-mix marg and steal some recipes from the tequila aficionados themselves. And if you’re making a big batch? You know where to reach us…

F. Ron Smith: Clase Azul on Ice

I don’t mess around when it comes to good tequila. As I always say — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. All you need this summer is Clase Azul Plata on ice (plus, these sphere ice molds from Williams Sonoma are a must). Cheers!

David Berg: Classic Paloma

What’s better than a classic, subtly sweet Paloma? Opt for a great blanco tequila like Casa Dragones and sip your way into a delicious grapefruity haze.
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 grapefruit wedge
  • 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup club soda
Pour some kosher salt on a plate. Rub half of the rim of a highball glass with a grapefruit wedge and dip the glass in salt. Combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice and tequila in the glass, add ice and top off with club soda. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge if you’re feeling fancy.

Nathan Stadler: Salty Chihuahua

The Salty Chihuahua is a variation on the salty dog, which typically uses vodka — plus it’s just fun to say.
  • 2 oz blanco tequila
  • 5 oz fresh lemonade
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • Squeeze of lime
Add your lemonade, tequila, Cointreau and lime juice to an ice-filled shaker and shake until nicely chilled. Drop in a lime wedge and salt the rim of your glass for some added style.

Ryan Bergum: El Pepino

My favorite tequila cocktail is called El Pepino. Pineapple, cucumber, lime, tequila — if that doesn’t scream summer, I don’t know what does.
  • 1.5 oz silver tequila
  • 1/4 oz agave nectar
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 Cointreau
  • 1/4 inch-thick slide of cucumber
Muddle the cucumber inside a tall glass. Add the rest of the ingredients to ice and stir away. Go ahead and garnish with an extra slice of cucumber, and maybe even a wedge of lime or a sprig of basil!

Tyler Drinkwater: Jaime Dole

I created the Jaime Dole while working as a beverage director at the seafood restaurant Harlow in Midtown East. It’s somewhat wintry but I think the spices are a unique addition to a summer classic.
  • 1.5 – 2 oz Casamigos silver tequila
  • 3 oz mulled pineapple with cinnamon, clove, star anise, allspide, orange and lemon peel
  • Dash of orange liqueur
To create the mulled juice, simmer cinnamon, clove, star anise, allspice, orange and lemon peel in pineapple juice for an hour. Cool and strain, combine all of the ingredients in a shaker and pour into a martini glass.

Courtney Welsh: Sparkling Paloma

This is a drink I improvise when I happen to have the ingredients! All it takes is 1.5 oz. of silver tequila and half a can of grapefruit Spindrift. Pour it over crushed ice and serve with a lime wedge. 

Krista Masella: Habanero Margarita

Sweet and spicy — my two love languages. This habanero marg is perfect for summer, whether you’re lounging by the pool or hosting a little get-together. The recipe makes two!
  • 5 oz good tequila
  • 1/2 habanero pepper, plus extra slices for garnish
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau
  • 1/4 cup simple habanero syrup (see below for how to make)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice + lime slices for garnish
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 habanero pepper, chopped
For the simple syrup, heat 1/2 cup water over medium heat and bring it to a boil. Add the 1/2 cup of sugar to the boiling water and the chopped habaneros, and stir the syrup for about 4 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and allow to cool. For the margaritas, squeeze enough limes to make 1/2 cup juice. Add ice to your cocktail shaker, then add the lime juice, tequila, habanero syrup and Cointreau. Shake, shake, shake! Then pour into salt-rimmed glasses filled with ice, garnish and serve.

Habanero Margarita | Rachel Ray

Garrett Sanders: Sunrise with an Alchemist

My favorite is the riff on a tequila sunrise that they serve at Alchemy in Sherman Oaks. It’s called “Sunrise with an Alchemist” and I’m on an endless pursuit to recreate it at home this summer.
  • Tequila
  • Yuzu
  • Gran gala orange liqueur
  • Grenadine floater
Play around with measurements until you get it right — I’lll report back once I nail down the perfect amounts! But no one’s going to punish you if you add too much tequila…

Andres Vargas: The Long Surrender

My go-to summer cocktail is called the Long Surrender. If it sounds intimidating, it’s because there’s a good amount of spice that (in my opinion) is the perfect complement to a great, smoky tequila.
  • Blanco tequila
  • Dry curaçao
  • Ancho chile liqueur (here‘s a great one)
  • Passionfruit liqueur
  • Lime juice
  • Agave nectar
  • Firewater tincture (like this)
Add each ingredient to taste, combine in a shaker and pour over ice. You won’t regret this one.
What cocktails are you mixing up this summer? Sip up and tag us in your photos @smithandberg for the chance to be featured on our page.

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