Why everyone's talking about the ranch water cocktail

Have you ever heard of the West Texas cocktail affectionately called "Ranch Water?" Don't feel bad if you answered no; a lot of people haven't. But chances are you are going to want to try this go-to summer cocktail that has bars in Austin, Marfa, Midland, and throughout the state of Texas fighting over who gets to claim its origins. Luckily, Texans know how to spin a good yarn, and the hotly contested tales of where and who first poured this cocktail are almost as delicious as the drink itself. The one thing that most people can seem to agree on when it comes to Ranch Water is the basic ingredients: lime, tequila, and carbonated water. However, that is where polite conversation ends and creativity begins (via Texas Highways).

To fully comprehend the importance of this Texas drink, it's probably a good idea to start with its roots, which may begin at the Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas. This spot has long been a refuge for city dwellers wanting to escape to one of the last frontiers in America. Novelist Zane Grey and sculptor Gutzon Borglum can be counted among its guests, perhaps even they stopped by the hotel's historic White Buffalo Baron bar on a long hot desert day to rustle up a nice refreshing pitcher of ranch water to wet their whistle. It would certainly add to this spot's claim as the birthplace of this tequila-based cocktail (via Gage Hotel).

The one requirement for Ranch Water: Topo Chico

However, according to the Gage Hotel's operations manager, Phillip Moellering, the Ranch Water was only officially added to their cocktail menu in 2010. The Gage hotel's recipe differs slightly from others in that it adds Naranja orange liqueur to slightly sweeten their version of this adult beverage. But Mollering notes that the Gage's real secret ingredient is "the extra lime and the colorful company it is enjoyed in" (via Punch Drink).

Still, if you cross the state to good old Hook 'em horns Austin, Kevin Williamson, owner and chef of Ranch 616, claims his watering hole was the first to coin the drink "Ranch Water". Are you getting a Hatfields and McCoys vibe? Us, too. Williamson, who also uses the orange liqueur in his version of this drink, revealed in an interview he is in the process of trading marking the cocktail's name and may even bottle it and sell it in stores (via Texas Highways).

So, moving past all this Dallas-like drama, how do you make the coveted cocktail? The beauty of this drink is its ease. You don't need any fancy bar tools to make it. To start, fill a tall glass with ice. While any sparkling water works, the one ingredient the purists insist upon is that the mineral water must be Topo Chico.

Use quality tequila for your Ranch Water

Topo Chico has a history that dates back to 1895, is sourced from an inactive volcano in northern Mexico, and had so much marketing potential, it was bought by Coca-Cola Co. in 2017. This water is steeped in lore with claims that it cured an Aztec princess from a mysterious illness. Because of the water's "distinctive bubbles" it is said to make for a crisper drink. It may be the elixir properties of Topo Chico that contribute to the magic of Ranch Water, but the tequila doesn't hurt it either. Spring for a good one like Casamigos Blanco or Patron Silver if you can. You will want a couple of shots of whatever brand you use if you are making a single serving. You also need the juice of half a lime; mix it all together, and you are in business. Some people like to salt the rim of their glass, others don't. It's really your preference (via Texas Highways).

There are plenty of recipes of this drink out there. Even Martha Stewart has created her own take on this beverage, calling it Marfa Ranch Water, a nod to the desert art hub in West Texas. So, find the one that speaks to your mouth's taste buds and start hydrating – responsibly of course.