Ranch Water Cocktail Recipe

If you haven't heard of Ranch Water yet, prepare yourself because it's about to be everywhere. And, once you've tried it, it's easy to see why: Ranch Water is basically a not-sweet, super pared-down margarita ... with bubbles. Intrigued? Read on for the unbelievably easy recipe, plus our tips for setting up a Ranch Water serving station (on a bookshelf!).

July 09, 2021

Photo by: Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith


  • Topo Chico mineral water (and, yes, purists insist on this particular brand)
  • good quality blanco tequila (or mezcal)
  • fresh limes

What Is Ranch Water?

Legend has it that ranchers in West Texas would amble into their local watering hole and cool off with a refreshing glass of chilled Topo Chico, topped with a splash of blanco tequila and fresh-squeezed lime. Over time, the uber-easy and equally uber-refreshing cocktail caught on and began spreading first throughout all of Texas, then recently, the rest of the U.S.

Photo by: Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

How to Make Ranch Water

Easy! It's just three ingredients in an ice-filled glass: Topo Chico, tequila (or mezcal) and a squeeze of lime. You can get a bit fancier and mix in agave syrup or orange liqueur for sweetness or add a salty or spicy rim, if you'd like.

Photo by: Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

How Is Mezcal Different From Tequila?

Like Ranch Water, if you haven't heard yet about mezcal, get ready, because this tequila-like spirit is rapidly gaining in popularity. Like tequila, mezcal is made from the agave plant — although, unlike tequila which must be made from just the blue agave plant and only in the Tequila region, mezcal can be made from any of the 30+ varieties of agave and in any part of Mexico. The two spirits also differ in production: while most tequilas are mass-produced using modern methods, mezcal production follows traditional methods. The agave is slow roasted with wood and charcoal in rock-lined underground pits for up to three days, then distilled in clay pots. The more traditional methods used in roasting and distilling mezcal gives it a noticeably smoky, earthy and — many would say, complex — flavor.

Photo by: Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

Set Up a Ranch Water Station

... And, let guest help themselves. If you're short on space, you can even take our cue and turn a bookcase shelf into a Ranch Water mini bar. This is one cocktail that really is so simple that it's easy to mix on the fly, perfectly customized to each guest's palate. For our bookshelf set-up, we included the obligatory Topo Chico and tequila and added in joven (unaged) mezcal. Ice is a must as are lots of limes, ready to be sliced and squeezed. Feel free to mix in more sweetness with agave syrup or even some homemade simple syrup.

Photo by: Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

Sarah Busby; Styling by H. Camille Smith

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