The Best Tequila Cocktails To Make When You're Sick Of Margaritas

"Cinco de Mayo," or the "Fifth of May," is the annual holiday celebrating the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (via History). Although it's only a minor holiday in Mexico (and is celebrated primarily in the state of Puebla), it has become enormously popular in the U.S., where it has evolved into an annual celebration of Mexican culture, history, and heritage featuring parades, parties, the playing of traditional Mexican music, and the eating and drinking of celebrated Mexican fare such as tacostortasmole, and margaritas, just to name a few. 

Of course, there's so much more to love about Mexican cuisine than tacos and mole. And as utterly perfect and easy to make as margaritas are — with their 3:2:1 ratio of tequila to orange liqueur to lime juice — they're actually fairly "basic" as far as tequila-based cocktails go, scratching only the mere surface of all that tequila is capable of doing. 

So, let's take a look at the best tequila cocktails to make that are not margaritas. 

Go native with the Paloma — the most popular tequila-based cocktail in Mexico

According to Taste Cocktails Magazine, the most popular tequila-based cocktail is not the margarita, but rather the Paloma, for which grapefruit, rather than orange, is the citrus flavor of choice for complementing the ubiquitous sweet-and-sour base of tequila and lime juice. The grapefruit imparts a delightfully refreshing bitter note, and since you are already thinking outside the margarita box, why not rub a little smoky paprika on the rim of the glass and substitute an ounce of tequila for an ounce of mezcal to take this tequila-based cocktail to the next level of smoky, complex fun? Or feel free to use a "reposado" tequila, rather than the more ubiquitous tequila blanco.

The simplest way to make a Paloma is to follow your basic recipe for a margarita on the rocks, but skip the orange liqueur, and top off the glass with grapefruit-flavored soda. But note: If you use an unsweetened grapefruit soda such as Fever-Tree's Pink Grapefruit Sparkling Mixer, you may want to add a bit of simple syrup if you prefer a sweeter drink.

Ranch Water cocktails taste better than anything 'back at the ranch'

If the Paloma seems too fussy at any given moment, or if you have a fantastic tequila on your hands which you think deserves a starring role in your cocktail, you might want to consider the increasingly popular Ranch Water cocktail, according to VinePair. With fewer ingredients and a simpler flavor profile, the Ranch Water — which features tequila plus lime juice, topped off with sparkling water —  is a wonderful tequila cocktail alternative to the good ole margarita. 

Even better? Add some Topo Chico sparkling mineral water, if you have it on hand, since that has evolved into the "traditional" topper for this Texas-style tequila highball, according to VinePair. Speaking of Topo Chico, you can also consider topping your Ranch Water with a splash of Topo Chico Hard Seltzer in the tangy lemon-lime flavor.

The Mezcal Mule is a spicy south-of-the-border take on its Moscow cousin

Another refreshing, bubbly, Mexican-souled cocktail you may want to try when you are sick of margaritas is the Mezcal Mule, a tequila-based take on the Moscow Mule, the uber-popular vodka-based cocktail made with lime juice and ginger beer and served in a copper mug. As the name suggests, the Mezcal Mule is not a "tequila" cocktail, per se, although it certainly can be, because tequila is actually a kind of mezcal. According to Wine Enthusiast, "mezcal" refers to a spirit produced from the agave plant, whereas "tequila" refers to a spirit produced from one particular type of agave — the blue agave. 

That being said, if you decide to serve Mezcal Mules at a Cinco de Mayo party, you may want to bear in mind that many people associate "mezcal" with a darker, smokier spirit than tequila (at least compared to tequila blanco), but, of course, it's up to you to decide whether to deliver what your guests expect versus something that might delight their senses even more. 

The Rosita is like a Negroni going through a 'rebellious stage'

For fans of the Negroni — the mixture of equal parts gin, vermouth, and Campari, served on ice and garnished with orange peel — the Rosita is your tequila cocktail equivalent. Another way to think of it is as Esquire did, which is as a "Negroni going through a rebellious stage." 

However you might think about it, the bottom line is this bittersweet spirit-driven beauty comes into being most simply by swapping out your herbaceous gin in favor of your sweet and smoky agave-based spirit of your choice. Ideally, however, you would make use of an aged tequila, such as reposado or añejo, to enhance the flavor profile by building on the smoky complexity.

The Manhattan-esque Augie March could become your libation of choice

Fans of the Manhattan cocktail, who also love a good tequila, will fall in love with the Augie March, a simple, spirit-forward tequila cocktail comprised of two parts aged tequila and one part sweet vermouth, plus bitters, and garnished with a brandy-drunk cherry. 

According to VinePair, the Augie March was invented by legendary bartender Phil Ward, and made use of a quarter ounce of the Italian bitter, Cynar, to three-quarters of an ounce of sweet vermouth. But you should feel free to use any bitter you think will enhance the flavor of your tequila. Additionally, here are some thoughts on the best ones for the home bartender.