Ranch Water Recipe

Ranch Water Recipe

Ranch water is an effortless tequila mixed drink, and it’s incredibly refreshing. This low-sugar drink mixes up in a minute and requires just three ingredients. Ranch water’s fizzy tart lime flavor ensures that it’s the ideal summer cocktail and an excellent pairing for spicy Tex-Mex food and barbecue fare.

To make ranch water, you’ll simply accent a shot of blanco tequila with freshly squeezed lime juice and top it with sparkling water. With its lively bubbles, Topo Chico is required to keep ranch water true to its West Texas roots. You won’t use the entire 6.5-ounce bottle at first, so keep it nearby to top off the glass as you drink. Low-proof drinks are always a good idea on hot days, and the extra water reduces the tequila’s effects while ensuring the drink sparkles to the last sip.

No one knows who invented ranch water or exactly when, but it has been enjoyed in the arid ranch country of western Texas since the 1960s. One story says that ranchers opened a bottle of Topo Chico, drank a few sips, then poured in a shot of tequila.

Whatever its true history, ranch water caught on in Texas bars. While it may have taken a few decades, it is now so famous that several companies (including Topo Chico) sell it as a canned cocktail. However, it's so easy to mix up that there's really no need for those, and there are several quick variations that you'll want to try as well.

“It doesn’t get much more refreshing than ranch water. I like mixing up the citrus by using a quarter of a lime along with a squeeze or two of orange or grapefruit.” —Laurel Randolph

ranch water/tester image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces blanco tequila

  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, plus 1 lime wedge for garnish

  • 4 ounces chilled mineral water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make ranch water.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

  2. In a highball glass filled with ice, pour the tequila and lime juice.

    Glass with ice and lime juice and tequlia.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Stir well to mix the flavors and chill the glass. Top with chilled mineral water.

    Glass with ranch water and ice.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Garnish with a lime wedge.

    Glass with ranch water and ice garnished with lime.

    The Spruce Eats/Maxwell Cozzi

Tips

  • Ranch water is typically made with blanco tequila. For the best tasting drink, choose a mid-range 100% agave tequila as it will have the crispest, purest tequila flavor.
  • While fresh lime juice is essential to ranch water, the exact amount is a personal preference. Some drinkers go rather light and squeeze just a quarter of a lime into the drink while others enjoy the intensity of an entire lime. When experimenting, start small, mix the drink, and add more until it reaches your ideal flavor.

Recipe Variations

  • Reposado tequila is a nice alternative to blanco and adds a subtle oak flavor to ranch water. Mezcal is also an interesting choice that gives the drink a deep complexity without sacrificing refreshment.
  • Ranch water is often sweetened with agave nectar (a teaspoon or two will do). You can also go sugar-free with keto simple syrup or add a little spice with jalapeño simple syrup.
  • Many bars make ranch water with an orange liqueur like Cointreau. Try it with about 1/2 ounce of liqueur for a hint of sweet citrus.
  • A splash of another citrus juice—particularly grapefruit or orange—is a great way to subtly boost ranch water’s flavor. Alternatively, use citrus-flavored mineral water.
  • Make nonalcoholic ranch water by switching to a zero-proof tequila spirit. The flavor is similar to regular tequila, though it may require more lime or a sweetener.
  • A tequila soda is very similar to ranch water but uses club soda. Ginger ale and lemon-lime sodas will create a slightly sweeter tequila highball.

How Strong Is Ranch Water?

Despite the inclusion of tequila, ranch water is a refreshingly light cocktail. On average, the drink’s strength falls in the 9 percent alcohol by volume (ABV. 18 proof) range. That’s just between beer and wine, and it’s even lighter if you use the entire bottle of mineral water.

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