The Agency’s New Development team just came back from a week in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where they toured the world-class Hacienda Beach Club & Residences and sampled some superb tequilas. That business trip, and the pleasures during it, inspired this week’s Top 10 list spotlighting the national beverage of Mexico. So without further ado, here are our picks, along with The Agency’s very own Texas Margarita recipe, just in time for the weekend.

1. Don Julio

Tequilla-1This gentleman’s tequila is a classic for a reason. The blanco is a true highlands tequila, with a sweet agave scent combining floral and citrus hints. It’s super smooth body is followed by a light, peppery finish. For an anejo variety, go with the Don Julio 1942.

2. Casa Dragones

At close to $300 dollars a bottle, Casa Dragones is not for the faint of heart – but man is it tasty. Headed by Bertha González Nieves – the first woman afforded Maestra Tequilera status – Casa Dragones isn’t afraid of breaking with tradition. It employs a modern, ultra-fine filtration system, then adds extra anejo for complexity. Plus, the hand-blown bottles come with hand-numbered, signed labels. Talk about luxury.

3. Casamigos Reposado

shutterstock_168045221This small batch, premium tequila is made from hand-selected Blue Weber Agave, grown in the rich, red clay of the Jalisco Highlands. The agave, which is harvested after aging for nine years, is slow cooked, fermented slowly with proprietary yeast, and aged for seven months in oak whiskey barrels. The result is an incredibly rich and smooth tequila with pronounced cocoa and vanilla flavors.

4. Fortaleza

Made by fifth-generation tequilero Guillermo Sauza, Fortaleza is a lowlands tequila, with agave that takes longer to ripen and typically has a sweeter, fruitier flavor than its highland counterparts. Fortaleza adds a little spice to the sweetness, however, and a delicious touch of pepper and cinnamon.

5. El Silencio

This mezcal will knock your socks off. Creators Fausto Zapata, Vicente Cisneros and Diego Gutierrez seek to return to traditional Oaxacan values and methods with this spicy tequila, which makes one of the best margaritas we’ve had.

6. Azunia Anejo Black

shutterstock_117017602This tequila is served in top clubs around LA, including The Warwick, an Agency favorite. A pleasant agave, spice and fruity aroma gives way to a rich body with a creamy, chocolaty flavor and an easy finish.

7. Gran Patron Platinum

While a lot of Patron isn’t much to speak of, this triple-distilled blanco is right up there with the best tequilas around, and it retails for over $200 a bottle. The tequila spends very little time in oak barrels, so rather than having sweet vanilla flavors like much of the line, Patrón Platinum has a fresher, sharper palate.

8. Semental Anejo

Pineapple, white chocolate, floral honey, and delicate spice follow through to a dry-yet-fruity body with accents of roasted yellow pepper, sandalwood and peppercorns. This micro-tequila, out of Nevada, is a lively and flavorful anejo that artfully balances fruity agave and spicy oak.

9. Grand Centenario Reposado

Great-tasting and moderately priced, this tequila combines highland spice with lowland fruit and richness. The oak barrel aging mellows the flavors without diluting the agave too much, as can often happen with anejos.

shutterstock_13555340010. Avion

Featured prominently on HBO’s “Entourage,” Avion has carved out a niche as a tasty, affordable tequila for the young, fashionable set. This crisp and clean silver tequila is crafted from brick-oven-roasted blue agave from Jalisco and is rigorously refined through Avion’s ultra-slow filtration process. The resulting spirit offers a fresh, complex palate that can be enjoyed completely on its own or with your choice of mixer.

And finally…

The Agency’s Texas Margarita recipe, courtesy of Houston native Ann Dashiell:

6 oz gold tequila
6 oz Triple Sec
4 splashes of Cointreau or other orange liqueur
1 Cup orange juice
2 Cups sour mix
6 oz fresh lime juice-use small Texas limes
To make Strawberry Margarita
Add 2 Cups fresh strawberries, puree

Instructions:

Fill a 16-ounce glass with ice. Add tequila, Triple Sec and orange liqueur. Fill balance of cup with orange juice and sour mix. Add a splash of a lime juice. Shake or stir well.

Salud!