Once You Try Rosa Tequila, You’ll Never Make a Margarita the Same Way Again
You may have noticed a new, eye-catching kind of tequila on store shelves. And you may have written it off as a millennial pink cash grab, reaching for your go-to blanco or añejo instead. It’d be easy to do, especially after the years of food coloring-laden, unicorn and mermaid-inspired treats. (Not to mention the simultaneous years of rosé all day, girlboss culture.) But if you do, you’re missing out: Rosa tequila is legit—no red dyes here—and it’s the secret to smoother, more refreshing cocktails.
What Is Rosa Tequila, Anyway?
It’s not pink-tinted tequila or rosé-infused, as you might have guessed. That color comes from taking blanco tequila—which is often unaged—and aging it in red wine barrels. “We found that the French Oak wine barrels gave a smoother finish and nuanced flavors,” says Ron Snyder, cofounder and CEO of Codigo 1530, one of the first to sell rosa tequila (back in 2016) told us. “Our curiosity led to us resting our blanco tequila in uncharred cabernet wine barrels. The result was a natural, subtle pink hue and the taste was incredible.”
That process gives it less of a bite overall, and a smoother finish, which you can detect before you even take a sip. Poured over ice, rosa tequila has less of a stinging scent than blanco, and you get a little more of the wine’s fruity or floral notes.
“You will notice notes of strawberry, orange and honey—its versatility is unmatched,” says Lindsay Mark, executive vice president of marketing at Calirosa, which launched its rosa blanco tequila in 2021. While many brands age their tequila in French red wine barrels, Calirosa’s gets its hue from California barrels, giving it more fruit-forward notes.
What Should I Look for Before Buying a Bottle?
Check the label to see how it’s made. While most rosa tequilas are aged in wine barrels, some get their color in other ways. Casa Rica, for example, found that agave releases a pink residue as it ripens, so it uses that residue in its distilling process, rather than discard it. A few brands infuse their rosa tequila with fruit peels or add carmine—a natural red dye—to boost its hue.
If you’re interested in the mellow finish and subtle, fruity-yet-floral notes fans of rosa tequila rave about, you’ll want to try a bottle that’s wine barrel-aged.
What’s the Best Way to Enjoy Rosa Tequila?
Consider it more of a sipping tequila—something you pour over ice and savor—or mix into cocktails. The flavors are so nuanced that it won’t overpower the other ingredients, to the point that you may ask yourself, uh, is there booze in this? (To which we say yes—the brands we’ve seen are all 40 percent ABV, on par with tequila blanco. This makes sense, given that rosa tequila in its strictest form isn’t diluted.)
While it’d work well in a classic margarita or paloma, it’s also great as a whiskey substitute in an old fashioned, as a stand-in for prosecco in an Aperol Spritz (just balance it with seltzer for bubbles) or as a tequila & tonic. Sure, gin is herby, but the floral notes in rosa tequila make this twist a bit more refreshing.
Where Can I Find a Bottle?
More and more liquor stores are starting to carry rosa tequila, and it’s widely available online. Here are a few brands to try.