Ranch water is a Texas-style tequila highball drink made with lime, tequila and Topo Chico! This bubbly cocktail is all about cooling off on hot days.

Ranch water

Move over, Aperol spritz. There’s a new bubbly cocktail that’s ready to take over the summer. Meet Ranch Water! Yes, Ranch Water is the unofficial drink of West Texas, essentially a tequila highball made with lime juice and Topo Chico. One of our dearest friends, a Texan, suggested we try this drink…and after one sip it blew us away! It’s like a bubbly, lighter version of the classic margarita, with all the tangy lime but less sweetness and booze. Could there be anything more refreshing? (We think not.)

What’s Ranch Water? Why is it called that?

Ranch Water is a tequila highball cocktail that hails from West Texas. No one knows exactly how it came to be, or even how it got the name. Some people say a Texas rancher invented it in the 1960’s. Whatever the case, Ranch Water was a word-of-mouth drink until around 2010, when bartenders in Texas started adding it to their menus. The ingredients in Ranch Water are:

  • Tequila
  • Lime juice
  • Topo Chico mineral water

Die hards of this drink claim it’s not Ranch Water unless it’s made with Topo Chico, that Mexican mineral water brand sold in the distinctive bottles. Of course you could make it with another brand: but Topo Chico seals the deal for us.

Ranch water

How to make Ranch Water

There’s really no science to Ranch Water! Because it was a word-of-mouth cocktail for so long, it’s more about vibe than anything. Really, you can use as much lime, tequila, and soda water as you’d like. Keep those bubbles on hand to refresh your drink, when you need it. Here’s the art to making Ranch Water:

  • Place 2 shots of tequila in a glass (3 ounces).
  • Mix in the juice of 1 lime (that’s about 1 ½ ounces).
  • Fill the glass with ice and top it off with Topo Chico (about ½ cup).

What tequila to use

The better the tequila, the better the drink! Ranch Water isn’t the most sophisticated of cocktails, so we wouldn’t require pulling out the top shelf stuff. Try finding a mid-price range tequila: typically this correlates to the quality of the alcohol. You can use either tequila blanco (“new” or un-aged tequila) or tequila reposado (aged) here. The aged tequila has more nuance in flavor, and makes for a more interesting drink.

Ranch water

More great highball cocktails to beat the heat!

What’s a highball? A highball cocktail is a family of mixed drinks that combine alcohol with a larger percentage of non-alcoholic mixer. There are lots of famous highballs like the good old gin and tonic or vodka cranberry. Here are a few more highballs that are perfect for hot weather:

  • Vodka Tonic or Vodka Soda The easiest mixed drinks of all time! These two-ingredient cocktails are bubbly, and citrusy
  • Tequila Soda Really another name for Ranch Water, it’s got a little less lime.
  • Gin Rickey A tasty classic 1920’s cocktail featuring gin, soda water and lime.
  • Whiskey Highball Tall, bubbly, and all about the spirit! A refreshing way to enjoy your favorite whiskey.
  • Sea Breeze A classic highball that’s easy to make! Starring vodka, cranberry, and grapefruit on lots of ice, it’s ultra refreshing.
Topo Chico

When to serve Ranch Water

Ranch Water is a carefree highball drink that’s perfect for sipping as a:

  • Summer drink
  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink
  • Birthday celebration drink (Happy Birthday, Dan!)
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Ranch water

Ranch Water (Best Summer Cocktail!)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


Ranch water is a Texas-style tequila highball drink made with lime, tequila and Topo Chico! This bubbly cocktail is all about cooling off on hot days. 


  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) tequila
  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) Topo Chico or other sparkling mineral water
  • For the garnish: lime wedge
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)


  1. Add the tequila and lime juice to highball glass and stir.
  2. Fill with ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish with a lime wedge.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Mixed
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Ranch Water, Tequila Highball

A few more tequila drinks

If you love tequila, we’ve got a few more tequila cocktails to try:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Tried this. My wife who drinks Topo Chico all the time, hated it. I had to add some simple syrup to it.

    1. When I was growing up in Central Texas we used to make this same drink but with crushed ice and it was dubbed border buttermilk as the crushed ice made the cloudy color look like buttermilk.

  2. So I created the Cadillac Ranch Water (maybe it’s a thing but I haven’t found it anywhere). Just add Grand Mariner to the recipe.

  3. Husband and I just tried it. This drinks tastes like absolute garbage. 😂 And he bought really good tequila?! 😂😂 We couldn’t stop laughing it was so bad…it is so hyped up on the intranets that’s we ignorantly expected something magical.

  4. Didn’t have Topo Chico. No Tequila either. Used Mezcal instead which gave it that smoky nuance. The ratio of lime makes this so refreshing. We don’t like sugary drinks so this is perfect for our tastes. Loved it!

  5. This is a blatant rip off of Agua Preparada popularized by Mexican food vendors in Laredo TX, wtf is Ranch Water anyway? It sounds unappetizing.

    1. It’s an agua preparada without the tajin and tequila added. Named for cowboys coming in from a long day at the ranch…

    1. Agua prepararda has lots of tajin and no tequila… so it’s a completely different drink.

      Thanks for the recipe, turned out great!

  6. The bad comments you received must have come from people in New Yuuk city. A TRUE Texan knows what’s Good! It so refreshing and tasty. I backed off the amount of tequila to 1 1/2 Oz. I found Espolon Reposado was a good choice for the Tequila. + I added a little salt.

  7. In South Texas and even in Mexico on the Boarder it’s called a Carreta – made exactly like you posted -just had never heard it by ranch water name.