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6 Best Tequilas Under $40 for Amazing Margaritas


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Move over Applebee's, your $1 margarita deals are pretty impressive, but we think we can make better margaritas at home: and that calls for the best tequila we can find. We're looking for something that tastes delicious -- but is also affordable enough that we can make these in batches for our next party. Good news: the tequilas we chose and happen to love are all under $40. As much as we're tempted to splurge on a top-shelf marg, some bottles can enter the triple digits -- and why spend that when you can find the best tequila under $40 that will take your margs to the next level. Get ready to bring Margaritaville to your backyard with these top-notch tequilas.

Why Your Margaritas Don't Taste Great & How to Fix It

Everyone's probably had a margarita that was either too sweet or tasted too strong (rubbing alcohol, anyone?) These are both easy fixes. When your marg is too sweet: add more freshly squeezed lime juice or a tad more booze. When your marg tastes like a shot of tequila: neutralize it with simple syrup (equal parts sugar water, boiled and cooled) or dilute with some ice cubes.

Silver or Gold: Which Tequila is Right for You?

Gold tequila is the standard pick for margaritas: it's made from agave and aged in barrels, resulting in a more complex taste. If you like your tequila to go down smoother, whether for shots or margaritas, go with gold tequila. It's a bit sweeter compared to silver tequila, too. But be cautious: look for gold tequila that's labeled as 100% agave tequila, because if it doesn't say that, chances are caramel and sugar have been added to it. Silver tequila, on the other hand, is not aged at all, but is still made from agave. This might be the best choice for you if you're planning on making other drinks with tequila besides margaritas -- like tequila and sodas. It's also more affordable and not really meant to sip straight -- so if you're making bulk drinks, this could be the best pick for you. Here's our current favorites but please note -- we went with tequila bottles that are all in the standard size of 750mL, and prices might slightly vary depending on where they're delivered:

Best Silver Tequilas

1. Mezcal 400 Conejos Joven Espadin

Best Mezcal Option

Mezcal 400 Conejos Joven Espadin (750mL) - Reserve Bar, $33.00

If you love a smoky, unique element to your margaritas, try this delicious mezcal option for your next cocktail. Named 400 Rabbits after the priests who drank agave to get closer to the gods -- this has a woody, smoky flavor and a sweet, ashen aroma. It's a surprising addition to the typical margarita (and would be great for more adventurous flavors like spicy mango or strawberry jalapeño) and is perfect for those who are a little new to drinking mezcal.

2. 21 Seeds Cucumber Jalapeño

Best Infused Blanco Tequila

21 Seeds Cucumber Jalapeño (750mL) - Reserve Bar, $39.00

This woman-owned tequila brand combines fresh, bright cucumber with the light bite of jalapeño to create a pleasant and surprising treat. It's infused with 100% natural fruit flavors (unlike some other flavored alcohols) and it's still held to the standard of regular tequila: the agave is double- and cold-distilled in the highlands of Mexico.

3. Espolòn Blanco

Best Silver Tequila for Shots & Margaritas

Espolòn Tequila Blanco (750mL) - Drizly, $27.59

This classic tequila, made in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, is a top pick for so many reasons: This tequila is double-distilled, making it one of the smoothest silver tequilas to do a shot with (Trust us on this one --we have plenty of experience taking shots). The peppery, spicy warmth that comes from this smooth option make it a crowd favorite, and it's made from 100% Blue Weber agave. It's another award-winning tequila with a 40% ABV (so pace yourself).

Best Gold Tequilas

4. Espolòn Tequila Reposado

Our Favorite Tequila Option

Espolòn Tequila Reposado (750mL) - Drizly, $27.99

Espolòn is a tequila brand that has fantastic options in both silver and gold -- and is pretty well known amongst margarita enthusiasts -- plus, it's a staff favorite. This gold option is made with 100% Blue Weber agave and distilled in Jalisco, Mexico, and is made by charring the blanco tequila and storing it in barrels to age for three months. It's tropical, rich, and sweet. One writer on staff notes it's probably the smoothest tequila shot she's ever had -- it's light and also fantastic for mixed drinks.

5. el Jimador Reposado

Another Great Option

El Jimador 100% Agave Tequila Reposado (750mL) - $30, Reserve Bar 

This incredibly popular hand-harvested tequila is made from 100% Weber agave and aged for two months in American white oak barrels. It's got a citrusy, bright taste that finishes with a smooth caramel thanks to the aged element. It's perfect for sipping and for putting in margaritas, and even won the 2020 Tequila Masters Gold Medal.

6. Sauza Conmemorativo Anejo

The Best Tequila Made in Tequila

 

Sauza Conmemorativo Anejo (750mL) - Drizly, $24.78

Sauza is a fun option because it is actually made in Tequila, Mexico. This aged option gets a long, lingering smoke finish from its medium toasted American oak casks, along with a smoke wood and pepper taste. That aroma is strong and delicious -- plus, since it's anejo tequila, it's aged longer. It's also smoky, peppery, and will have a lasting smoky taste on the palate.

This post was originally published on February 13, 2020. Alida Nugent also contributed to this story.