Cocktail Club

Cocktail Club: How to make a crowd-pleasing tequila colada

"Demand for Mexican spirits, especially tequila, is soaring."

Mix tequila cocktails at home with bartender and Twitch creator Michael Pando and host Jackson Cannon on April 7 at 7 p.m. YesMore Content on Unsplash

Year after year, trend setters have predicted the fall of vodka from its place of dominance in spirit sales. Pundits postulated that a rise in popularity of gin would cut into sales or that, now that American whiskey is surging, it will strike back to gain the position it lost in the 1970s as America’s most sipped tipple. The incredibly well documented Platinum Age of craft cocktails, brought myriad old school products back into focus without changing the basic math on overall drinking practices. Even the disdain of those leading the charge, couldn’t dent vodka’s spot at number one. But a change is coming.

Demand for Mexican spirits, especially tequila, is soaring and built on a series of solid foundations that have for the first time in 40 years created the conditions for a spirit category to overtake vodka as the number one choice for imbibing in the U.S. While the celebrity-endorsed premium tequila category is responsible for most of the growth in dollars seen during the increased home drinking of the pandemic, the category rests on a wide range of affordable products, beloved by bartenders and consumers alike. This deep-rooted penetration into the more casual drinker is where the truly explosive power of the category lies.


In cocktails, tequila has many classics already established in our collective drinking consciousness. There is the paloma, tequila sunrise, el diablo, rosita, and two margaritas. In the world of nouveau classics, it’s a blur of innovations on classics by reimagining, as in a Tommy’s Margarita, or moving out onto new ground as did Phil Ward’s Oaxacan Old Fashioned. Here the mezcal gets top billing, but there’s more tequila in the mix than anything else. Also, the ability of tequila to move into a drink established first with another spirit and take over gives an endless supply of presentations. Tequila and ginger beer — a terrific combination — becomes a Mexican Mule, and suppresses the vodka version of that drink on menus and in popularity. Guest requests for tequila negronis are on the rise, as is the practice of calling for an espresso martini, with tequila instead of vodka. All this leads to delicious drinks that will be the bedrock of the way we drink tequila for years to come even if the premium market gives up a little ground as we move back into more drinking at bars and restaurants.

The lexicon of drinks that are either as good or improved by substituting tequila grows by the day. Below, find my pure indulgence in this cycle, bumping the rum (which I love) from the great, guilty pleasure the piña colada.

Tequila colada 


  • 2 oz. tequila 
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 oz. coconut cream


  • Shake, serve on the rocks
  • Garnish with cherry flag 

Watch our virtual cocktail class

On Thursday, March 7 Cocktail Club host Jackson Cannon and special guest Michael Pando, bartender and content creator on Twitch TV, made tequila cocktails, caught up about the restaurant and bar scene, and shared tips the pros use to make great drinks at home. They mixed a crowd-pleasing tequila colada and poured an evocative tequila highball known to some as Ranch Water. Everything you need is in the shopping list here.