Sip and Savor: The Best Ways to Enjoy Authentic Tequila

Cierto bottle in person's hand

Whether you’re a beginner or an aficionado, everyone has their favorite way of drinking tequila. Some prefer it in a classic cocktail, such as the margarita or paloma. Others might choose to sip their tequila neat, on the rocks, with a splash of water, a squirt of fresh lime juice or paired with a meal.

Given the multitude of ways to enjoy this incredible and authentic Mexican spirit, it’s understandable that some drinkers might wonder: what’s the best way to enjoy tequila?

While there’s no “best” way to enjoy Cierto Tequila, aside from responsibly and in moderation, we can recommend some of our favorite options, techniques and glassware to enhance your tequila-drinking experience and appreciate the artistry that goes into every handcrafted batch of Cierto.

First, Choose a Well-Made, Additive-Free Brand

Tequila is a distinctly Mexican spirit known for its complex flavor profiles and unique aromas, thanks to its primary ingredient, blue Weber agave. By selecting well-made, additive-free brands crafted by reputable distilleries that use only sustainably-grown and fully mature agave, you can develop a purer understanding and appreciation of everything that tequila has to offer.

The four most common types of tequila expressions are:

  • Blanco

  • Reposado

  • Añejo

  • Extra añejo

Depending on the expression, it can take a surprising amount of time to produce a single batch of well-made tequila from start to finish. That’s because it takes roughly seven to ten years for tequila’s key ingredient – the blue Weber agave plant – to reach peak maturity before harvest, distillation, aging in oak barrels and blending. The agave is ready for harvest when visual signs of maturity, such as brown spotting, are prevalent and the concentration of easily fermentable natural sugars is highest (as determined by a measurement called degrees Brix).

When high-quality agave is used by skilled master distillers to make tequila, there’s no need to manipulate the product with additives or artificial ingredients, such as glycerin, oak extract, caramel coloring or sugar-based syrups – which compensate for production shortcuts and only serve to obstruct the wide variety of naturally-occurring flavors and aromas.

That’s why Cierto, which translates as “True,” never uses additives. By patiently honoring nature’s process, upholding authentic tequila-making traditions and celebrating the spirit’s natural essence, our master distillers (Enrique Fonseca and Sergio Mendoza, fourth and fifth-generation agaveros) craft the best-tasting tequila.

Learn more about Cierto’s range of additive-free tequila, the Most Awarded Tequila in History.

Keep Reading: Cierto Tequila Wins Three Medals at the Tequila Aficionado Brands of Promise Awards

The Best First Sip: Neat

Woman holding a glass of tequila

The right way to drink tequila is the way you personally enjoy, but we always recommend that you sip the tequila neat when trying a brand or product for the first time in order to appreciate its full sensory spectrum and contemplate its craft. Just pour it straight from the bottle into your glass at room temperature and without ice or mixers.

There are two main reasons why we recommend sipping tequila neat.

First, it pays homage to the artistry, rich traditions and agricultural necessity of the tequila-making process. Since Cierto Tequila’s journey takes several years before it reaches your glass, we believe the Most Awarded Tequila in History deserves to be savored.

Second, sipping tequila neat allows you to experience the rich complexity of its flavors, aromas and textures. For maximum enjoyment and appreciation, pay attention to a few things:

  • Hold the glass to a light and observe the tequila’s color and texture. With the exception of blanco tequila, which should be crystal clear when properly made, all other expressions come in varying tones of yellow, gold, amber and brown. If you’re drinking an additive-free tequila, the darkness or intensity of the color generally indicates the length of maturation and the type of barrel. (Note that 100% of an aged, additive-free tequila’s color comes from the barrel.) Gently swirl the glass and notice how the tequila cascades down the sides of the glass, referred to as its “legs.” The structure of a tequila’s legs will vary based upon a number of factors, which include age, alcohol content and presence (or lack) of additives. The legs of longer-aged tequila expressions, such as Cierto’s añejos and extra añejos, tend to cascade more slowly than younger expressions, such as our blancos and reposados. That’s because the longer a tequila is aged in an oak barrel, the more it absorbs from the wood, which slightly thickens the spirit to a beautiful, mouth-coating consistency.

  • Nose, or smell, the tequila. Tilt your glass to its side, bringing your nose just above the lower rim, and notice the aromas. You might prefer to inhale through the nose or allow the aromas to rest more delicately by inhaling through the mouth instead. Try moving the glass into a few different positions, where you may experience different notes. (Tequila has a potent scent and is high in alcohol content, so take care not to inhale too deeply!) Some of our favorite aromas from Cierto’s tequila expressions are citrus, baking spice, oak, chocolate, cognac and, of course, cooked agave.

  • Sip the tequila. If this is your first drink of the day, gently swish that first sip and allow it to coat your mouth before swallowing, a step that primes the palate and readies it for alcohol. Take the next sip and swallow it over the full length of the tongue, exhaling over the tongue. Take note of the different flavor sensations on different parts of the palate and how long they last. A pleasing, long-lasting and warm (not burning) sensation in your throat, referred to as the tequila’s “finish, is the final sign of an enjoyable sip. Everyone’s palate is different and it’s fun to compare notes with others on the hundreds and hundreds of diverse flavors that occur naturally via the agave’s terroir, cooking, fermentation, distillation, maturation and blending processes.

Sipping Flights of Tequila

If you’re doing a full tequila tasting, or flight, and sampling different expressions, we recommend sipping in order from lightest to darkest, starting with blanco. Most tequilas will take on more flavors and aromas as they age, and this progression allows you to experience them as they unfurl.

Depending on the type of tequila you’re sipping, you’ll observe different notes. For example, if you’re drinking Cierto Tequila Private Collection Reposado, expect light notes of butterscotch, cinnamon and caramel. But with Cierto Tequila Private Collection Añejo, you’ll notice much deeper and more pronounced notes of coffee, French oak and burgundy, due to the lengthier maturation period.

Can You Drink Tequila on the Rocks?

Of course.

Once you’ve done a proper tasting to become more familiar with the tequila’s flavors, experiment by pouring your favorite expressions over ice, especially if you prefer your drinks chilled rather than at room temperature or if straight spirits are too intense. Tequila is similar to fine whiskey, in that ice or a small amount of purified water will slightly dilute the alcohol and can really open up the flavors.

We recommend using a double old-fashioned glass when drinking tequila on the rocks. Take care to keep ice cubes to a minimum, as the ice will mellow and eventually mute the flavor as it melts. (It can also make your tongue cold, making it more difficult to pick up on the tequila’s subtler notes.)

What About Mixing Tequila in a Cocktail?

From a fresh margarita to a pared-down tequila sunrise, carefully crafted tequila cocktails are a great way to enjoy this spirit with friends and with food. Using an exceptional quality tequila is always going to be the starting point for the best possible drink experience. The understanding of tequila’s array of flavors that you gained from sipping it neat will enhance your appreciation of how those flavors complement a cocktail’s other ingredients in a well-rounded drink.

We enjoy making Cierto Tequila drinks that showcase (versus mask) the spirit and exercise restraint when it comes to sweeter flavors. We opt instead for fresh, natural ingredients grown or made in Jalisco (such as citrus, cooked agave nectar or espresso).

Check Out: Uproxx: “Cierto Tequila Lives Up to Its Hype”

What Glassware Should I Use to Sip Tequila?

Bottle of Cierto tequila next to two glasses

To enhance your Cierto Tequila sipping experience, try a stemmed flute glass.

Tequila flute glasses are long and narrow. Their shape is designed to concentrate and lift the tequila’s aromatic bouquet and bring it toward the nose, while the stem ensures that your hand doesn’t alter the temperature of the spirit. Tequila flutes are ideal for swirling the tequila to observe the length and consistency of its legs. Lastly, the vessel’s elegant contours and delicate construction are sensorial reminders that you’re enjoying a one-of-a-kind product and an elevated experience.

Because tequila flutes amplify and accentuate the spirit’s characteristics, using them to drink your tequila can help you appreciate the deeper aromas and natural flavors of the blue Weber agave plant. This is why flutes are the preferred glassware for most distillers, blenders, tasters, competition judges and many tequila connoisseurs around the world.

We recommend the Reidel Ouverture tequila flute and the Glencairn Copita glass, the former of which has been designated as the “official tequila glass” by Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Counsel (CRT). If you don’t have specialty tequila flutes on hand, you can substitute champagne flutes for a similar, elevated experience.

What's the Best Way to Store Tequila?

Store your bottles of Cierto Tequila upright in a cool and dry environment. If you prefer to showcase your bottles of the Most Awarded Tequila in History on your home bar or bar cart (and why wouldn’t you?) ensure that they’re away from direct sunlight, which can significantly degrade the flavors and color of the spirit. Otherwise, we recommend keeping them inside a closed liquor cabinet.

Make sure that the corks are always tightly sealed, which prevents evaporation and oxidation and preserves the tequila’s original aroma and taste. And try to avoid storing Cierto Tequila in the freezer. The extreme cold will thicken the tequila and mask much of the tequila’s nuances and natural character.

Ultimately, the best way to drink tequila is the way you find most enjoyable and best fits the occasion. How you choose to drink tequila matters far less than which tequila you choose to drink. To experience everything that tequila has to offer – its flavor notes, aromas, colors and texture – choose a high-quality, additive-free “True” tequila.

Explore the range of 100% pure, natural “True” tequilas from Cierto today.

Up Next: Cierto Tequila Named Best Tequila at the 2024 Los Angeles Invitational Wine & Spirits Challenge

Explore the Private Collection

Cierto Private Collection Blanco
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Cierto Private Collection Reposado
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Private Collection Añejo
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Cierto Private Collection Extra Añejo
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