After we did a taste test with a variety of lime seltzers, we had a lot of lime seltzer lying around. What’s the best way to enjoy this refreshing drink? By adding the wonderment of alcohol, of course! We asked a few bartender/mixologists for their favorite lime seltzer drinks and brands. Unsurprisingly, tequila was a popular choice.
In fact, you can keep it really simple, like Collin Moody, general manager and beverage director of Chicago’s Income Tax, suggests: “Texas has a tequila highball called Ranch Water that is usually Topo Chico, tequila, and lime, but I’ve definitely been known to make it with Topo Chico Lime Seltzer instead! It’s pretty simple, just 2 oz. tequila, ice, and top up with seltzer to taste (usually 5 oz. or so).” As luck would absolutely have it, tequila is the only bottle of alcohol I have on my desk at work (some people favor Malort). So I went to the kitchen to try it out with a few coworkers who were definitely down for a drink at 4:30 p.m. on a Wednesday.
The result: Surprisingly delicious! And I’m not a big liquor drinker. But I have been known to do a few tequila shots in my day, and this was like stretching a tequila shot out into an all-day sucker. Very refreshing, easily sippable. The tequila taste overpowered the lime by a mile, but was still very pleasant (probably because it was pretty good tequila). I would probably add a wedge of lime and try to resist the temptation to keep licking salt off of my hand.
If you want to doll up your tequila and lime seltzer ever more, though, check out the Jalisco Highball from Chicago’s William Duncan, 16OC Beverage Director/Partner (Moneygun, Punch House, Dusek’s Board & Beer), which adds some agave and bitters to the mix. He raves, “This ideal after-work refresher is quick to mix and almost as quick to crush. Keeping the elements super cold allows the ice-free service. It drinks a little more like a glass of beer this way, a highly quaffable highball treat.”
- 1.5 oz. chilled silver tequila
- .5 oz. agave syrup
- 2 dashes aromatic bitters
- pinch salt
- lime seltzer (Like Collin, William also prefers Topo Chico Lime: “It has the highest bubble count of all seltzer water and a pleasant minerality.”)
In a freezer-chilled 8 oz. glass, squeeze the half-lime and drop into glass. Add syrup, bitters, and salt.
Add chilled tequila (keep your bottle in the freezer) and top with 5 oz. cold lime seltzer while stirring gently. Serve without ice.
You know where this is all leading, though, and it’s straight to a margarita. Raise New York mixologist Nicole Andreoli makes a spicy margarita that features lime seltzer. Making your own jalapeño cilantro-infused tequila seems a little intense, but it also sounds amazing:
- 1.5 oz. lime seltzer (Andreoli favors La Croix “because it is all natural, it doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners or sugar, it has no sodium, and it doesn’t contain any artificial coloring. It is clear and bubbly, with a subtle lime flavor that is not super sweet or overwhelming. It is refreshing and adds a nice, sparkling, light sweetness to this cocktail.”)
- 2.5 oz. jalapeno cilantro-infused tequila
- .5 oz. triple sec
- .5 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
To make the jalapeno cilantro infused tequila, take one jalapeno and slice and seed it, 3/4 cup of cilantro leaves and tequila.
Place the sliced jalapeno and cilantro leaves into the bottom of a mason jar. Fill the jar with tequila. Give the mixture a good shake to distribute the ingredients and let sit in a cool dark place for up to three days and shake occasionally. After three days, strain ingredients out through a fine mesh strainer and place the infused tequila into a sealed jar.
To make the Raise New York Spicy Margarita: Run a lime wedge around the rim of the glass and dip in salt.
Fill a shaker with ice, place all of the ingredients in the shaker and shake, strain the cocktail over the prepared glass. Garnish with a slice of jalapeño and a lime wedge.
But what if you’re (god forbid) not a tequila fan? Danny Shapiro, partner at the Scofflaw Group (Scofflaw, The Heavy Feather, The Moonlighter) in Chicago,
has a drink for you featuring gin, like you’re Jay Gatsby staring forlornly at the green light on a faraway dock at the end of the summer.
- 1.5 oz Scofflaw Old Tom Gin (If that isn’t available, Danny likes to use Hayman’s Old Tom Gin as a sub.)
- 4 oz. lime seltzer (he also prefers La Croix)
Build in a Collins glass over ice. Give a quick stir to incorporate. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.
The last summer weekend is conveniently upon us (Labor Day isn’t meteorological fall, but it feels like it). So before you put your white pants and light spirits away for several months, I highly recommend pulling out some lime seltzer and stirring up one of the above for a proper farewell toast to the season. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the ice bucket.