Ranch Water

updated Jul 20, 2023
Ranch Water Recipe

This bright, bubbly cocktail will quench your thirst all summer long.

Serves1

Prep5 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
a round cocktail glass with Ranch Water (a Texas-style tequila highball drink made with lime, tequila and Topo Chico) with a lime wheel garnishing the side of the glass
Credit: Amanda Gryphon

What could be more tempting on a sweltering summer day than a fizzy, iced elixir served with a side of folklore? Three ingredients — blanco tequila, fresh lime juice and Topo Chico mineral water — tumbled into an icy glass will set you on the path to bright, bubbly refreshment. Ranch water, often deemed the “unofficial drink of West Texas,” delivers all that and more. 

Ranch water enjoys a following far beyond Texas, thanks to its low-ABV, easy-drinking nature. Start with the basics and a pinch of salt for a subtle flavor boost, then feel free to tinker with the ratios of lime and Topo Chico, or run wild with add-ons like muddled jalapeños or a zesty chile-lime salt rim. 

With a blueprint that simple, you can and should be making ranch water at home as the heat cranks up this summer.

Credit: Amanda Gryphon

Why Is It Called Ranch Water?

Early cattle ranchers are often credited with bringing the thirst-quenching cocktail to life while seeking respite in ice houses following long days herding under the West Texas sun.

Local legend will tell you that the cocktail sprang from the minds of parched West Texas cattle ranchers, who slaked their thirst with a simple trio of tequila, lime juice, and mineral water starting in the 1960s.


While that rings true enough, another likely inventor emerged from the Austin restaurant Ranch 616, where owner Kevin Williamson has been pouring his own version of ranch water since 1998. Served with a dash of orange liqueur and a full bottle of Topo Chico on the side for personalized dilution, Ranch 616’s approach points to the endless versatility of the drink.

What Type of Alcohol Is in Ranch Water?

Blanco (or silver) tequila is the classic choice of alcohol for ranch water because of its light, citrusy flavor. It’s one of four general types of tequila. However, if you prefer a bit more depth, a reposado tequila will lend smooth richness with a hint of vanilla, thanks to being aged in oak barrels. 

Which Sparkling Water Works Best for Ranch Water?

Topo Chico-brand mineral water is a non-negotiable for most ranch water experts, as it delivers crisp bubbles and an unmatched fizz factor considered essential for peak enjoyment. Some even serve it straight from the bottle by first downing a few ounces of water and then pouring the tequila and lime juice straight in. 

That said, feel free to use any mineral water or sparkling water you prefer.

What Other Ways Can You Customize Ranch Water?

  • Add a splash of fresh orange juice, grapefruit juice, or pineapple juice.
  • Muddle fresh or pickled jalapeños for a kick of heat.
  • Sweeten with a 1/2 ounce of agave syrup or orange liqueur.
  • Bump up the zesty flavor by rimming the glass with Tajín.

Ranch Water Recipe

This bright, bubbly cocktail will quench your thirst all summer long.

Prep time 5 minutes

Serves 1

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces

    blanco tequila

  • 1 ounce

    freshly squeezed lime juice (from 1 medium lime)

  • Pinch

    of flaky salt

  • Ice

  • 4 ounces

    sparkling mineral water, preferably Topo Chico

  • Lime wheel

Instructions

  1. Place 2 ounces tequila, 1 ounce fresh lime juice, and a pinch of flaky salt in a rocks or highball glass and stir to combine. Fill the glass with ice, top with 4 ounces mineral water, and garnish with a lime wheel.

Recipe Notes

Topo Chico substitution: Topo Chico is the preferred brand for this cocktail, but any sparkling mineral water could be substituted if need be.