6 Sweet Spots to Sip Tequila in Tucson

Served up, on the rocks, or mixed, tequila is synonymous with the Southwest, crazy nights, and rough mornings. Beloved by everyone from connoisseurs to sorority girls, there’s no more authentic place to sip the stuff than in the desert. Find your sweet or smoky spot at any of these picks below:

Blanco Tacos & Tequila

Tequila Shots at Blanco Tacos & Tequila

Tequila Shots at Blanco Tacos & Tequila

It’s all about the margaritas (and the view) at Blanco in the foothills, but as their name implies they are stocked with an array of blanco, reposado, anejo and ultra tequilas. Their collection runs the gamut from the ubiquitous to the rare, such as Don Julio “Real,” which is aged 2 1/2 years in oak whiskey barrels and costs $75 a shot.

Signature Cocktail: July’s seasonal margarita, “The Bomb Pop,” with  layers of blue curacao, frozen margarita, and a mixed berry puree on the bottom.

Boca Tacos Y Tequila

Espolon Tequila at Boca Tacos Y Tequila in Tucson

Espolon Tequila at Boca Tacos Y Tequila in Tucson

This casual restaurant is by far one of the best places for creative tacos, homemade tortillas and surprising salsas in Tucson. The $2 happy hour tequila shots don’t hurt either. Sample Casamigos, George Clooney’s very own award-winning brand made from hand-selected 100% Blue Weber agaves and grown in the rich red clay climate of Jalisco, Mexico.

While away the afternoon at one of the outdoor picnic tables, or snuggle around the fire pit when the nights get cool, watch the sunset and let Clooney do his magic. Buy any of Boca’s top-shelf brands and Chef Maria will give you a cigar.

Signature Cocktail: “Hibiscus Margarita”

El Charro

From pure Milagro Organic 100% Agave Silver to Patrón XO Cocoa & Chile Infused Reposado, Tucson staple El Charro has a tequila for everyone. Opt to soak up the booze with yummy dishes from their $5 Cinco de Summer Menu so you can splurge on a really fantastic tequila. (Psst…They’re offering 1/2 off all tequila shots on Thursday, July 24th.)

Signature cocktail: “Prickly Pear-Rita” with fresh citrus, prickly pear nectar, and Sauza Silver Tequila.

Kingfisher

Aging tequila at Tucson's Kingfisher

Aging tequila at Tucson’s Kingfisher

The beloved oyster bar and seafood-centric date destination, Kingfisher, also has a reputable tequila list, including Del Maguey Mezcal “Minero”–distilled in copper stills for a warm, smoky flavor–and Tres Generaciones Anejo, so smooth and rich it’s almost like a cognac. But the standout is the House Reposado, literally aged right at the bar.

Signature Cocktail: “The Fernet & Daisy,” made with House Reposado tequila, Fernet Branca, ginger sweet and sour, mint-infused Patron Citronge, lime.

Penca

Specializing in off-the-beaten-path tequilas and agave-derived liquors, Penca is the place for adventurous palates. A favorite is the turkey-filtered Mezcal Pechuga–yes, it is filtered through turkey meat. Smoky, hot and slightly sweet, it’s known as the “ritual” mezcal and is often combined with berries and herbs. Pechuga is crafted in small quantities and is still trickling its way across the border, making it quite difficult to get in the U.S. You won’t find it in a cocktail either… it’s sacred enough on it’s own.

Signature Cocktail: “Sonoran Gimlet,” served up with Sonora Bacanora, gentian wine, quassia bitters, and house-made black lime cordial.

Tequila Factory

Tucked away inside Casino Del Sol Resort, Tequila Factory boasts more than 120 varieties of tequila. The bar offers handpicked flights for $12-$25 from producers like Kah and Herradura, as well as reserve flights like the Anejo, which includes Don Julio 70th, Milagro Single Barrel RSVP and Don Julio 1942.

Signature Cocktail: “Oaxacan Ice Water” made with Blanco Mezcal, agave, lemon, hopped grapefruit bitters, soda.

Coming Soon: Reforma Cocina y Cantina

I know, I know – it’s not open yet. But, we can’t wait. This restaurant – slated to open in October – will focus on the cuisine of Mexico City and Central Mexico at St. Philip’s Plaza in the space that formerly housed Vivace. Reforma is being brought to you by the the duo behind Union Public House. The massive 7,000-square-foot restaurant (we’re talking 250 seats) is expected to open in mid-October and will offer an extensive selection of tequilas and distilled agave products, as well as a scratch kitchen with house-made corn and flour tortillas.

Nina is a Creative Nonfiction MFA candidate at the University of Arizona, a food writer and a recipe addict.

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