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We Asked 20 Bartenders: What’s the Most Underrated Tequila? (2024)

Tequila is incredibly popular in the United States, and over the next two years, it’s on track to dethrone vodka as the nation’s best-selling spirit. Everyone is trying to get in on the game, including actors, athletes, supermodels, and the like launching their own brands.

With such incredible growth and such a crowded market, it can be overwhelming for enthusiasts scanning store shelves and trying to figure out which bottle to take home. And sometimes, the in-stock hidden gems get eclipsed by bigger, more popular brands. Labels can begin to blur together, stress sets in, and a simple choice can feel impossible. So, how can you possibly decide which to purchase among the dizzying array of options?

We decided to consult the experts. VinePair asked 20 bartenders which tequilas they feel deserve more time in the spotlight — and on your bar cart. Here are their picks.

The Most Underrated Tequilas, According to Bartenders:

Lalo Tequila
Rancho Alegre
El Ateo
Komos Cristalino
Casa Noble Reposado
G4 Tequila
Tears of Llorona
Rejón Tequila Blanco
Cazcabel Blanco
La Gritona Reposado
Mijenta Tequila
Siembra Valles
Siete Leguas
Don Julio Blanco
Siembra Azul Blanco
O’rte Tequila Blanco Single Estate
Tequila Herradura Blanco
Milagro Silver Tequila

“Lalo Tequila is one of the most underrated tequilas on the market right now. Lalo, the grandson of Don Julio, continues as the third-generation [distiller], focusing on blanco and the flavors of the agave. By not aging the tequila, you eliminate the flavors of the barrel such as caramel and vanilla, but focus more on the brightness, sweetness, and clean flavors. Lalo Tequila, to me, can be enjoyed neat or with a single cube and sipped on. I thoroughly enjoy having this at the bar, watching the sunset, and enjoying the flavors of the agave.” —Deon Togami, beverage manager, Prince Waikiki Hotel, Honolulu

“We stock Rancho Alegre as our well at The Last Resort when it’s available. It is 100 percent agave and has no additives. This is what I’m looking for in any tequila; I find myself recommending it before most of the top-shelf celebrity tequilas.” —Alex Baird, bartender, The Last Resort, NYC

“​​One of the most underrated tequilas is Fortaleza. Fortaleza is produced using traditional techniques: crushing the agave with a stone wheel and roasting it in a brick oven before distilling in a copper pot. Fortaleza is produced by the Suaza family, and this is their small-batch product renowned for its refined flavor profile of roasted agave, citrus, and earthy tones.” —Jeff Caudill, general manager, BLU Beach Bar & Grill, Folly Beach, S.C.

“El Ateo embodies the perfect blend of tradition and innovation, crafted with meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to quality. The legacy of Don Luis Villalobos Obregón, combined with the cultural heritage of both Jalisco and Guanajuato, results in a tequila that not only tells a story but also delivers an unparalleled tasting experience. It’s a treasure for those who appreciate the finer nuances of a truly artisanal spirit.” —Edward de Decker, food & beverage manager, The OG and Call Me Pearl at the Rally Hotel, Denver

“When people think of ultra-premium tequila, they usually think of Clase Azul or Casamigos. Komos Cristalino does everything they do, but better, and for a reasonable price. The charcoal filtering in a cristalino removes the impurities and makes it the most sippable tequila on the market.” —Chandler Thomassen, food & beverage manager, The Read House, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Casa Noble Reposado is the most underrated tequila as it’s dangerously smooth. While it’s not as popular, it will no doubt grow among customers the more they opt in for it. It’s perfect for any cocktail, but it’s also great neat given how smooth it is.” —Charles “Chuckie” Mcintyre, lead bartender, Sky Rock Sedona, Sedona, Ariz.

“I love when you can clearly taste the tradition in a bottle. Families and regions carry different ‘signatures’ and it’s always fun to trace back that sense of time and place. G4 Tequila is a beautiful highland tequila with a long finish by Felipe Camarena. Super affordable and versatile for mixing and sipping. I personally like to mix cocktails with the high-proof or blanco, and sip on their Fermentada de Madera.” —Amy Hosseinnian, beverage manager, Oyamel, Washington, D.C.

“Lalo Tequila is 100 percent Mexican-owned and made by the descendants of the original Don Julio. Super smooth, and great to just drink straight [or in] cocktails. Reminds me of when Casamigos first came out.” —Cesar Gordillo, beverage manager, Maydan, Washington, D.C.

“Not necessarily underpriced, but Tears of Llorona is completely underrated for what they are producing in terms of awareness in the market. Their master distiller German Gonzales is using late-season, high-altitude Blue Weber agave hearts and utilizing a trio of sherry, whiskey, and brandy barrels to produce an incredibly unique sipping tequila. It was originally produced just for private consumption, but then [they] decided to share it to the world. We at José Andres love to share this with our guests, specifically at our rooftop bar Nubeluz.” —Jopus Grevelink, senior beverage manager, José Andres Group Ritz-Carlton, NYC

“For a very long time, I only carried Arette Blanco as my well tequila and would not budge. Just recently, I was turned on to Rejón and haven’t looked back. Rejón’s blanco tequila is super bright and fresh with a perfect balance of vegetal and citrus notes with a touch of pepper. The price is unmatched for the quality and smoothness it offers. I can’t wait to try more from them.” —Mary Bennett, bar manager, The Grange Community Kitchen, Hamburg, N.Y.

“Cazcabel Blanco deserves a larger amount of hype, especially across the industry. Great quality and amazing value for a tequila that delivers on nose and palate with a spicy, citrus note and a touch of smokiness. Works perfect for cocktails.” —Dimitrios Karagiannis, beverage director, Nerai, NYC

“I like to support small and women-owned companies as much as possible, and that’s easy when one is making a product as good as La Gritona Reposado. It’s very sippable — clean, vegetal, and spicy. Great in a Margarita, too. The handblown, recycled-glass bottle also looks really cool to repurpose as decor.” —Steph Hiltz, bartender, State Park Bar, Cambridge, Mass.

“La Gritona is a reposado tequila made in Jalisco and the [distillery] only employs women. It’s truly just a very niche tequila that is cocktail-friendly and super affordable. They give anything left over from the agave to local farmers for their cows, so they’re trying to help everyone in Jalisco with it, and the bottles are made from recycled glass. Another tequila I love is Mijenta Tequila: It also has zero additives and is just a really beautiful tequila.” —Tia Barrett, beverage director, Hav & Mar, NYC

“I’ve been loving and reaching for Siembra Valles. Their Tahona High Proof Blanco is my go-to for sipping and one I like to suggest for my mezcal lovers who are looking for a good tequila with something more to offer. This 94-proof banger uses traditional production techniques from maestro mezcaleros and is single-estate and additive-free. The high proof gives you your bang for your buck, but don’t let her fool you. She may be hot, but she’s smooth and delicious!” —Danielle Gavaldon, co-owner/bar director, Sure Thing Pop Up Bar; bartender, Bar Flores, Los Angeles

“Whenever I catch guests perusing the back bar, I love to introduce them to Siete Leguas. Sometimes misreported as [makers of] the original recipe for Patrón Tequila, Casa Siete Leguas did distill the first bottles for the brand back in the late ‘80s. It’s priced alongside the big names, but is crafted for a more adventurous palate. The blanco is earthy and peppery, and opens a great conversation with new tequila drinkers about how terroir affects agave spirits.” —Kurt Reed, bartender, El Centro Cantina, NYC

Don Julio Blanco is the most underrated tequila. It is a pure agave tequila with subtle citrus and herbal notes that are great in Spicy Margaritas, pomegranate Palomas, and Sangrias. My favorite way to drink it is chilled and served neat with a wedge of lime and salt, or sometimes lemon and pineapple to enhance the citrus notes. I like serving it in a Copita glass, which I find brings out the best flavors of the tequila.” —Paloma Boissard, mixologist, Ruinas Del Mar, Aruba

“I find that the most underrated tequila is Siembra Azul Blanco. It really does not get the attention that it deserves, in my opinion. It has a strong amount of agave in it, with citrus notes and a hint of black pepper. Overall, it’s very smooth.” —Mourad Atiki, senior food & beverage manager, Degrees Bistro, Washington, D.C.

“If you are looking for a nice tequila to sip on, O’rte blanco is it. It’s very smooth yet has a ton of complexity and flavors. You get subtle floral and fruit notes at the beginning, and it finishes with a mild sweetness. I would compare it to more well-known brands such as Fortaleza or Clase Azul.” —Dale Kaiser, bar manager and mixologist, Valette, Healdsburg, Calif.

“During a visit to a distillery in Mexico, I tasted Tequila Herradura Blanco, a gem that I consider the most underrated treasure in the world of spirits. I was amazed by its smoothness and complexity, which defied all expectations I had about agave-based beverages. Each sip was like an explosion of flavors, with fresh and vibrant notes that transported me to the agave fields in Jalisco. What I loved most about this tequila was its versatility. I could enjoy it neat, in cocktails, or paired with traditional Mexican dishes. It was the perfect companion to celebrate special moments in life or simply to unwind at the end of a long day.” —Abel Morales, food & beverage manager, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Milagro Silver Tequila is similar in price to Espolòn, if not less, and is definitely underrated in my opinion. It is super smooth and easy to drink with very mild stone fruit flavor profiles. If someone were looking for a budget-friendly and high-quality tequila, Milagro is the way to go!” —Summer DeCaro, general manager, Revival, Charleston, S.C.

*Image retrieved from Serhii via stock.adobe.com

The article We Asked 20 Bartenders: What’s the Most Underrated Tequila? (2024) appeared first on VinePair.

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