If you're making drinks for a crowd this Cinco de Mayo, you're not going to want to shell out the big bucks for several bottles of top-shelf tequila. Your wallet tells you to get the cheap stuff -- but good sense tells you to avoid a hangover. Unfortunately, those two ideas don't usually mesh.
The nastiest hangovers come from tequila that's not made from 100 percent agave, because it's mixed with sugar and other additives (a.k.a. the recipe for disaster). We gathered six cheap well-rated and popular tequilas that won't set you back if you need to buy them in bulk -- they're all under $25, with one costing as little as $12.99. Four of the brands are 100 percent agave, and two aren't, for the sake of experimentation -- see how they fared in our slideshow below.
We selected silver (a.k.a. blanco) tequilas for this taste test, with the intention of using the tequila to make a batch of margaritas. Silver has the cleanest, most neutral flavor of all tequilas, when compared to reposado or anejo (which can, it turns out, be used for a pretty tasty margarita in some cases). We tasted the tequilas straight up to get the clearest impression of their qualities.
Our blind taste test revealed a couple of things. 1) We're not jumping out of our seats to take straight-up shots of any of these tequilas. 2) They're the perfect thing to mix into a margarita, since the sweet-and-sour margarita mix would completely overpower the nuanced flavor of a more expensive, high-quality tequila. In our opinion, it'd be a waste to mar an expensive tequila in a mixed drink, and these more affordable versions do the job just fine.
So which brand came out on top? Check out the slideshow below, and let us know what you think.
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#1: Milagro Tequila Silver -- $23.99 (Recommended)
<b>100% pure agave, product of Mexico</b> <b>Comment:</b> "Tastes like salt water, in a pleasant way." "Very good tequila. Smooth, drinkable and sweet." "Easy to swallow." "Salty taste -- tolerable."
#2: Dos Manos Tequila Blanco -- $12.99 (Recommended)
<b>100% pure agave, product of Mexico</b> <b>Comments:</b> "Smooth mouthfeel, and stings going down." "Some floral and fruity notes. Nice." "Astringent." "Very smooth and pleasant." "Drinkable but not great." "Kind of spicy."
#3: Margaritaville Tequila Silver -- $18.99 (Recommended)
<b>100% pure agave, product of Mexico</b> <b>Comments:</b> "Smells sour, and is less astringent than others." "Spicy." "Unpleasant. There's not much else to say." "I think this would mix well. Very strong but tolerable." "Pretty smooth. I would be surprised if this were a true bottom shelf."
#4: Sauza Tequila Silver -- $14.99 (Not Recommended)
<b><em>Made with</em> fresh blue agave, product of Mexico</b> <b>Comments:</b> "Banana!!!" "Not bad. Some banana notes." "UGH. Tastes worse than soap." "Very salty, and not very strong." "Odd smell, almost toasted."
#5: Espolon Tequila Blanco -- $21.99 (Not Recommended)
<b>100% pure agave, product of Mexico</b> <b>Comments:</b> "Very astringent. Tastes like cheap rubbing alcohol. I could never drink this straight up." "Like rocket fuel." "Really, really not okay." "Funky smell and tastes cheap." "Rubbing alcohol. I would not even drink this mixed." "A little harsh but not horrible."
#6: Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila -- $22.99 (Not Recommended)
<b><em>Made with</em> blue agave, product of Mexico</b> <b>Comments:</b> "Odd plastic smell and flavor. Awful." "Foul. Vomit-inducing, almost literally." "I gagged. This is AWFUL!" "If there was a zero, I would give it to this. It's like drinking lighter fluid." "Smells awful, tastes like plastic. I would not even drink this mixed." "Tastes like toilet cleaner."
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