Texas Ranch Water

4.4
(17)

Meet your new favorite summer cocktail.

Hands On Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
5 mins
Servings:
1

While Texans might disagree about where you'll find the best barbecue brisket or which Buc-ee's snack food is the best (the answer is Beaver Nuggets), we'd reckon that they'd almost all agree on one thing: The house cocktail of a hot, balmy Texas summer is Ranch Water.

It's easy to customize Texas Ranch Water however you want, and feel free to skip any measuring altogether, relying on your eyeballs instead. We'll provide a ratio below that can get you started on a perfect basic Ranch Water, but here are a few of our favorite ways to tweak it: Add a splash of grapefruit juice, rim the glass with chile-lime salt, give it a dash of Grand Marnier, or muddle a couple jalapeño slices at the bottom.

Another pro move is to use Topo Chico's Hint of Lime or Hint of Grapefruit flavor, rather than plain.

Fresh lime juice is always best, but if going for store-bought, look for cold-pressed lime juice.

Texas Ranch Water
Photographer: Fred Hardy II, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Props Stylist: Christina Brockman

What Is Ranch Water?

Texas Ranch Water is a simple, three-ingredient cocktail that is nearly impossible to mess up. Think of it as something like a skinny margarita, but even easier. And although the drink itself is unfussy as can be, the name is obscure enough to confuse the uninitiated. So why is it called Ranch Water?

Eloise Bryan is the lead concierge at the Gage Hotel in Marathon, Texas, where her White Buffalo Bar is frequently credited as originating the drink.

"A bunch of people out here refer to it as the Ranch Water because cowboys are out there working hard all day, and they want good water, but they want it a little bit spiked," Bryan told The Washington Post in 2021 as Ranch Water's popularity was spreading wildly around the country.

What Is Ranch Water Made Of?

Ranch Water is easy to make with simple and readily available ingredients. All you'll need is blanco tequila, a lime (for juice as well as garnish), and Topo Chico.

People who prefer a sugarier cocktail frequently add something to sweeten the drink, such as simple syrup or a liqueur like Grand Marnier.

The drink is easily modified to individual taste — and that's part of its appeal. "There's really not hard details," Byran told The Post. "It's been such a popular drink for such a long time that everything gets a little fuzzy."

What's the Best Tequila for Ranch Water?

The best tequila to use in Ranch Water is a blanco (or silver) variety — such as Espolon or Casamigos. As the name implies, this type of tequila is clear, mild, and, well, most like water.

But people who prefer more of a tequila-y flavor might also choose to use reposado or even mezcal. These tequilas are aged longer and have a stronger flavor.

Is Topo Chico Required for Ranch Water?

Yes, some people—especially Texans—will say that Topo Chico is a nonnegotiable in a Ranch Water recipe. That's because the sparkling water packs an extra-bubbly punch that adds sparkle to every sip.

But is it critical? Technically no. Remember, the breezy nature of the drink means that anything goes.

How to Make Ranch Water

Fill a glass with ice. Add about three ounces (two shots) of blanco tequila and about an ounce and a half (a shot) of fresh lime juice. Top with Topo Chico. Garnish with a fresh lime wedge on the rim of the glass.

What Glassware Should You Use for Ranch Water?

You might make your Ranch Water in a highball glass. But it's not critical; use whatever glass you have on hand. And just adjust the proportions to fit the size of your glass (or your tolerance level). Just keep in mind the ratio of two parts tequila and one part fresh lime juice as your general guideline.

Community Tips

There are as many variations on Ranch Water as there are fans of the refreshing, easy cocktail. Salt or tajin on the rim or inside the drink are popular additions.

"Add a pinch or two of rock salt or something similar — very refreshing," community member Robert Solis advises. "By the way, I am from Texas and I own a ranch so I know a thing or two."

Punching up the drink with some added spice is a popular modification, too. "Cowgirls, Try adding a couple of pickled jalapeno slices," suggests community member Cyoung27312. "Yee haw!"

Editorial contributions by Alesandra Dubin.

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces blanco tequila, such as Espolon or Casamigos (about 2 shots)

  • 1 ½ ounces fresh lime juice (about 1 shot)

  • Topo Chico, chilled

  • Fresh lime wedge for garnish

Directions

  1. Using a highball glass—really, whatever glass you have on hand—fill with ice. Add tequila and fresh lime juice. Top with Topo Chico. Add fresh lime wedge to the rim of the glass. Enjoy!

  2. The amounts of tequila and lime juice can be halved to fit a smaller cocktail glass or to be less boozy in general. Just use a ratio of two parts tequila, one part fresh lime juice.

    Texas Ranch Water
    Photographer: Fred Hardy II, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Props Stylist: Christina Brockman
Updated by
Alesandra Dubin
a woman with blonde curly hair smiles at the camera

Alesandra Dubin is an LA-based lifestyle writer and editor. As a veteran digital journalist, she's covered travel, food, parenting, and more for over 15 years. Her work has appeared in Allrecipes, TripSavvy, Town & Country, Business Insider, Marriot Traveler, Today.com, and countless other online and print outlets. She is a writer for Southern Living.

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