With American consumers’ love for tequila soaring, Ranch Water is poised to become the drink of the summer.
What Is Ranch Water?
This low-cal cowboy cooler is a West Texas classic, mixed with just fizzy water, silver tequila, and lime juice, to refresh and restore at the end of a hot day. Legend says cattle ranchers in far West Texas would work in the hot sun, and, at quitting time, would pop the top off a nice fizzy Topo Chico, which until recently (before 2017, when it was acquired by Coca Cola) was only available near the Mexican border. They’d drink a few slugs, replace the soda they drank by pouring blanco tequila right into the bottle, and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime. Refreshing. Portable. Tequila. And it wasn’t just ranchers—lots of West Texans regularly quaffed the easy-to-drink highball in sundry forms at local bars and hootenannies.
How To Make Ranch Water
Ranch Water has made its way onto more upscale drink menus and into the explosive canned Ready-to-Drink market, but it’s simple to make at home. Just pour 2 ounces of blanco (silver) tequila over ice (crushed, if you like) in a highball glass, squeeze in half a lime (and throw in the shell), and top with soda water (Topo Chico brand, preferably, due to provenance and high carbonation). Keep adding Topo Chico as you quaff to dilute the drink and hydrate your parched self.
At El Cucuy in New Orleans Uptown, they serve a terrific (if slightly inauthentic) ranch water at the bar. The secret? A splash of lime cordial adds sweetness as the Topo Chico bubbles disperse the deep agave notes of the Luna Azul blanco tequila.
Ranch Water Buying Guide
When choosing which ranch water cans to tote to your next rodeo, read the labels carefully. Lots of RTD’s posing as tequila and soda are actually malt beverages–essentially tequila and lime-flavored hard seltzers masquerading as the real thing. Look for the word “tequila” on the label before stocking your cooler bag.
In 2019, Amelia Lettieri took her background in finance and her Texas birthright and created Ranch20 Spirits. One hot Dallas day her husband Paul turned to her thirsty and said “You are going to start a canned ranch water company. You’ve got the operational experience, the mentors in the industry, and you’ve seen it from the consumer facing side.” Adds Lettieri, “We found a blanco tequila that we loved, and we were off to the races after that.”
“Our tequila has a vegetal, fresh, green pepper note that I love.”
Top RTD Canned Brands To Try
“You would typically make a ranch water with 2 ounces of tequila so that’s what we do.” But Lettieri and her team spent ten months working with a beverage formulator to get the right level of acidity and fizz.
“It’s Texas’s version of a skinny margarita,” says Lettieri of the Ranch20 Spirits version that clocks in at 7% ABV for a strong fizzy cocktail with a true tequila bite.
Canteen Spirits takes the name Cantina for their line of canned tequila sodas, including ranch water made with blanco tequila, a little lime, and a pinch of salt. At 5.6% ABV and just 99 calories, this no sugar added cocktail really tastes like tequila.
Best known for their tasty hard kombucha, June Shine Spirits out of San Diego makes the tartest, most refreshing canned ranch water we tried. The 12 ounce can packs an 8% ABV and has organic lemon and lime juices to accent the agave.
Featured Image Credit: Topo Chico.