The 3-ingredient cocktail you’ll want to drink all summer long

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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

Ranch20 Spirits

“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.

Ranch20 Spirits

Canteen Spirits

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.

Canteen Spirits

June Shine Spirits

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.

June Shine Spirits


Riding on the huge success of their tasty line of canned RTD cocktails released in 2021 and aligning with the 100th anniversary of their tequila brand this year, Cazadores just launched a 5.9% ABV canned ranch water that’s not bad, although not as notable as their spicy margarita.


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Type “flavored tequila” into your search engine and dozens of bottles pop up, with a rainbow of fruits and chiles on their labels. Coconut, chipotle, mango, hibiscus and grapefruit are just a few of the flavors that tequila brands have come up with to enhance their spirits and entice their customers. Tequilas infused with actual spices are quite a bit harder to find but that may be changing.


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Sheetal Bhagat launched Spice Note Tequila Co in 2018. A trained vocalist who appeared on the first season of Gordan Ramsay’s MasterChef Season 1 in 2010 (and came in 4th), Bhagat spent summers in India as a child but at first pretty much ignored her stainless-steel masala dabba, the traditional tin of seven spices given to her by her mom when she moved into her first apartment in college. Years later, when she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music career, she un-taped the spice tin, called her mom and started learning to cook her favorite dishes over the phone.

“I don’t have a hospitality industry background. I don’t have a food science background. I did not go to culinary school,” says Bhagat, “but I was known as the ‘spice queen’ on the show because I cooked with all the spices all the time.”

Baghat also happens to love margaritas. “I got to thinking, if you cook with cumin and lime together all the time, why not try it in cocktails? I put some ground cumin in my margarita shaker, and this is where the prototyping begins.” Thus commenced the long journey involved in creating Spice Note.

Along with the complex process of finding the perfect source for her spices and her blanco tequila base, Bhagat had to learn about the filtration process required when using ground spices to flavor it. Those original margaritas had “this sediment like you are eating sand … and it looks cloudy and mucky. … How do you get it out once you are happy with the amount of flavor you have? Spice particulate is very, very small, and cumin particulate is bigger than cinnamon particulate, so we had slightly different filtration processes for both infusions.”


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After landing on eight different flavor formulations, Spice Note launched with cumin “because that’s where the story started” and cinnamon “because I wanted something more familiar.”  The spice flavors and colors are remarkably true and pure and allow the agave notes of the spirit to surface. The earthy cumin tequila, though less aromatic than the warm, rich Ceylon cinnamon variety, makes an intriguing margarita indeed.


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Next, Bhagat hit the pavement with her creations. Beverage directors and bartenders at Chicago restaurants took inspiration from these new flavors and ran with them.

“Chicago has a high end culinary and bar scene where they do their own shrubs and syrups and infusions,” notes Bhagat, “…but can you make your infusion better than this?” she would ask.

Aneka Saxon, Director of Beverage Development at Chicago’s Machine and Headquarters, explains. “Many things are easier and less expensive to infuse than people think, which is why we do a lot of it ourselves. We don’t mind spending a bit of time to add a little bit of love to our ingredients. There are a lot of flavored products on the market that use artificial flavoring agents that don’t always translate very well into a cocktail. … Sheetal is making an incredible product that for us to replicate in house would cost much more than what she charges us. She takes great care sourcing her ingredients.”


Tara White /


At Machine, Saxon pairs Japanese whisky with citrus and Spice Note Cinnamon in a cocktail called Dragon’s Breath, which she serves hot in winter and chilled in summer.  She also mixes Spice Note Cinnamon with Ancho Reyes chile liqueur and ginger ale for the piquantly layered Devil’s in the Details.

Modern Indian restaurants like Rooh have also embraced the brand, using the cumin flavor with cucumber and mint in a bright green up-drink called the Last Hara.  Bhagat highly recommends a culinary approach to cocktail concocting—the classic combo of cumin + tomato, for example, points directly to the success of a Spice Note Cumin Bloody Maria.  She’ll add both flavors to a pot of chili to sensational multicultural effect.

In truth, the overlap between traditional Mexican and traditional East Indian spices is quite apparent, which maybe explains why it all works. Says Bhagat, “I grew up with this. These are the flavors of my childhood.”

Here are some spiced tequila recipes to inspire you.


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  • 1 oz Tenjaku Japanese Whiskey
  • .5 oz Spice Note Cinnamon
  • 1 oz Triple syrup (simple syrup, agave nectar, and honey)
  • .5 oz fresh Lemon juice
  • 1 oz water

Serve hot and garnish with an orange twist.


Machine Hospitality /


  • 1.5 oz Spice Note Cinnamon
  • .25 oz Ancho Reyes
  • .5 oz Simple syrup
  • .75 oz Fresh lime juice

Shake, serve over ice and top with Ginger Ale. Garnish with micro cinnamon basil and six drops of Hellfire bitters.

This article originally appeared on AlcoholProfessor.comand was syndicated by


Machine Hospitality /


Featured Image Credit: Topo Chico.