Zingy, bubbly and refreshing, Ranch Water has become the go-to summer serve for loads of tequila lovers across the US, taking cocktail menus, supermarket shelves and home bars by storm.
It’s a drink that rides the wave of both the hard seltzer craze and the tequila boom - and as these trends continue to take off around the world, we have a feeling Ranch Water’s gonna be big biz in the UK too. Read on to learn all about it…
At its core, Ranch Water is a simple cocktail with just three key ingredients: tequila, lime juice and Topo Chico, a type of sparkling mineral water hailing from Mexico. Agave syrup is often added to the mix, and sometimes triple sec (orange liqueur) is used as well.
In its most pimped-out form, with agave syrup and triple sec, the drink is essentially a spritzy Margarita - and according to Liam Davy, head of bars for Hawksmoor and The Lowback, this likeness to the Marg contributes to Ranch Water’s popularity Stateside. “Margaritas are boozy and also quite intense, and potentially a bit sweet. Ranch Water ticks many of the boxes that people, particularly in the US are looking for - it’s agave based, long and not too sweet,” he says. (Liam's currently "toying" with the idea of putting Ranch Water on the menu at The Lowback, a decision we'd fully support.)
One thing we love about this serve? It's a choose-your-own-adventure kinda drink. Liam, for instance, believes "this should be a really dry cocktail, almost unbalanced in its sourness". But if you've got a bit of sweet tooth, go ahead and add that agave syrup, sugar.
Ranch Water is a distinctly Texan creation, and while its exact origins are a little hazy, it became popular at a bar called Ranch 616 in Austin in the ‘90s. But even before that, it was probably enjoyed by ranchers looking for some boozy refreshment after a long day in the sun - often built directly in the bottle for a quick and easy happy hour on the go. Pure genius, no?
A few big-name brands have clocked onto this winning formula and dreamed up their own canned takes on the cocktail, too. Topo Chico itself has even rolled out a ready-to-drink (RTD) version, so you can get your Ranch Water fix wherever you are.
It all depends on who ya ask. If you’re in West Texas, the answer you’ll get is likely to be a resounding yes. Meanwhile, Liam thinks it’s all about considering what Topo Chico brings to the table. “Maybe for Ranch Water purists, Topo Chico is key, but to make a good one you just need a good sparkling water with a hint of salinity.”
The truth is, Topo Chico can be a little tricky to find in some areas. As a swap, Liam recommends Vichy Catalan; if you can’t get your hands on that, use standard soda water, then do as cocktail bible Difford's Guide does and add half a pinch of salt.
We like ours strong, tart and a little sweet - here's our winning formula...
50ml blanco tequila (we’re currently loving Cazcabel, with its punchy citrus and black pepper notes)
Juice of 1 lime
10ml agave syrup
Soda water (real ones use Topo Chico; if using regular soda water, add 1/2 pinch salt)
Lime wedge, for garnish
Add all the ingredients except the soda water and the garnish to a highball glass filled with ice and stir. Top up with soda water, garnish with the lime wedge and get sippin’.
Image credit: Megan Bucknall, Garreth Paul (Unsplash)
By Kate Malczewski