While drinking alcohol can blunt your ability to lose fat (See: Does Alcohol Prevent Weight Loss?), we understand for some it can be one of life’s guilty pleasures.
Given Cinco De Mayo is right around the corner, we wanted to teach you more about tequila, where it comes from, along with basic calorie information for the most popular drinks that have tequila.
What Is Tequila?
In a region that’s now the Jalisco state of Mexico, the conquistadors arrived from Spain to find the Aztecs drinking a fermented beverage called octli brewed from agave. And when the Spaniards ran out of their European brandy, they distilled the blue agave plant to produce one of North America’s first native spirits: Tequila.
While producers shipped Tequila to the US as early as the 1850s, it didn’t become a popular spirit until the 1960s, when the Margarita made its appearance as a cocktail staple and mixed drinks with Tequila exploded onto the scene. 1
5 Different Types Of Tequila
Today, Tequila saturates the liquor market, and though all Tequila is distilled from agave, there are two basic categories: mixtos and 100% agave. The mixtos uses no less than 51% agave, but other sugars make up the remainder. The distinction in flavor comes from the base ingredient, which makes 100% agave more complex.
In addition to this basic difference, Tequila is bottled in one of five categories:2
- Blanco “White” or “Silver” – This type is un-aged, meaning it’s bottled or stored immediately after distilling, and generally stored in stainless steel so no flavor soaks into the liquor from the barrel
- Reposado – Known as “rested” tequila, it is aged at least two months, but no longer than one year, and always in oak barrels, as it takes on the flavor of the wood and mellows the alcohol
- Joven – A mixture of un-aged and aged Tequila, this type is called both “young” and “gold”
- Añejo – Aged at least one year, but less than three, it is also always stored in oak barrels
- Extra Añejo – Meaning “extra aged,” this is aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels
The more aged Tequilas are generally smoother and more complex, while the Blanco has the harsher flavor of the agave at the front of the palate.
Calories In Most Popular Drinks Made With Tequila
Traditionally in Mexico, you would drink Tequila straight, without lime and salt. The lime and salt variation many in the US and other countries are familiar with is known as the “tequila cruda” or “training wheels.” A 1 oz. shot of Tequila is usually between 64 and 69 calories, and most mixed drinks include more than just one.
Some of the most popular cocktails created with Tequila also include high amounts of fruit juice, which significantly increase the sugar content:3
- Margarita: Made by mixing Tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and Margarita mix, this can be served on the rocks or blended, and a 12 oz. glass will set you back about 540 calories
- Matador: With Tequila, lime juice, and pineapple, this one is high in sugar and sits at about 500 calories per 12 oz. glass
- Tequila Sunrise: Tequila, orange juice, and grenadine, prepared to mimic a sunrise, you’ll be drinking 400 calories per a 12 oz. glass
Hope this helps you find some ways to stay healthy and keep the festivities going – enjoy Cinco de Mayo!
- Filippone, P. “History of Tequila.” Home Cooking: About.com. Apr. 2013. ↩
- “Types of Tequila.” Tequila Source. Apr. 2013. ↩
- “49 Margarita Recipes.” Mix That Drink. Apr. 2013. ↩
Perfect! But do you have a recipe for a low calorie Margarita? Or at least a healthier version using fresh juice or frozen fruit? Thanks!
@michelle – looks like @Jamie came up with a drink recipe.
hi. here’s one. way fewer calories:
1 and 1/2 shot of lime juice: try Nellie and joes key west lime juice, (not like the other bottled junk) 0 calories
2 shots water with 1 tsp of splenda 0 calories
2 shots tequila: we’ll say 140 calories max
Thanks for the recipe, Shane! I’d probably use sparkling water instead of still water, and add stevia instead of Splenda. But it sounds like a great, low-calorie drink!
-Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor
Robb Wolf came up with something called a Norcal Margarita that has become very popular in the paleo community. Not nearly as damaging as the drinks listed above.
2 shots of tequila
Juice and pulp from one lime
Club Soda, to taste
@Jamie – no alcohol = best results, but do appreciate the better version of the common sugar laden drinks!
I like this Jamie. I myself use only fresh squeezed limes and tequila, so I think I might try it with the club soda. Thanks
And what about pure tequila, with lemon and salt as my grandpa used to drink. How many calories it has ? 🙂
@miro – the calories are given for pure tequila in the article – 64 to 69 calories per ounce.
I like tequila with diet cranberry juice, squeezed a quarter lime & a dose of mineral. It is sooo good, not many calories, I think.
I use baja bobs original margarita mix sugar free. I add fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice. Great for my husbands with type 2 diabetes. Our choice for a treat. I buy the mix on amazon.com
Crystal Light just came out with a Margarita flavor, which i tried with silver tequila yesterday. No one will confuse it with a classic margarita, but i thought it tasted pretty good. The best part is, the CL is only 5 calories and 0 carbs per 8oz, so if you add an ounce of tequila, you’re still under 75 calories per drink.
Bob, thanks for sharing! That sounds like it could be a good option for a mixer if you want something with more flavor without a ton of calories. My only concern would be the sugar alcohols, which can cause bloating, headaches, an upset stomach, and a disruption in your gut biome. Personally, I prefer to have a California margarita which is made with tequila, soda water, and muddled lime wedges.
-Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor