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

Ranch Water in glass with topo chico
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Here’s a simple cocktail that’s bubbly, zingy and perfect for summer: ranch water! It’s the unofficial drink of West Texas, a tequila highball made with lime juice and sparkling Topo Chico.

One of our dearest friends, a native Texan, suggested we try out this “new” drink a few years ago, and after one sip, we were sold. Now it’s taken the country by storm and vaulted into popularity as one of the top summer drinks! It’s like a bubbly, lighter spin on the margarita, with all the tangy citrus but less sweetness and booze. It’s laid back and carefree, perfect for patio sipping. Come make it with us!

Ingredients in ranch water

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, but there’s no documentation of how it came to be.

It was a word-of-mouth drink until around 2010, when bartenders in Texas started adding it to their menus. The ingredients you’ll need for ranch water are:

  • Tequila: Use tequila blanco has a clean and crisp flavor that’s a good match for the bubbles and citrus. We also like it with tequila reposado, for a more complex sip with subtle notes of vanilla and oak.
  • Lime juice: Always use fresh limes in a cocktail: the flavor of bottled juice is no comparison.
  • Topo Chico mineral water or other sparkling water: Die-hard fans of this drink claim that it’s not ranch water unless it’s made with Topo Chico, the Mexican mineral water brand sold in distinctive bottles. You can make it with other brands of sparkling water, but Topo Chico seals the deal for us.
Ranch Water with Topo Chico sparkling water bottle

How to make ranch water: step by step

There’s no exact science behind ranch water! Because it was a word-of-mouth cocktail for so long, it’s more about vibe than precise quantities. You can use as much lime, tequila, and soda water as you’d like, but this is the formula we feel packs the right zingy, bubbly punch. Here’s how to make ranch water:

  • Step 1: Place 3 oz tequila in a glass (2 shots).
  • Step 2: Stir in 1 ½ oz fresh lime juice (the juice of about 1 medium lime).
  • Step 3: Add ice and pour in 4 ounces Topo Chico (½ cup).

Best tequila to use for ranch water

Ranch Water isn’t the most sophisticated of cocktails, so it doesn’t require pulling out a top-shelf liquor. Find a mid-priced tequila for Ranch Water. You can use either tequila blanco (“new” or un-aged tequila) or tequila reposado (aged). The aged tequila has more nuance in flavor and makes for a more interesting drink. Look for 750 ml bottles in the range of $22 to $35 (anything cheaper isn’t worth buying). A few tequila brands that we recommend are:

  • Espolon Blanco: inexpensive tequila blanco
  • El Tesoro Blanco or Patrón Silver: mid-priced tequila blanco
  • Milagro Reposado or Suerte Reposado: mid-priced tequila reposado
Ranch Water with lime garnish.

More tequila drinks

Are you a tequila fan? Pick from these tequila cocktails:

What kind of tequila should I use for ranch water?

Tequila blanco (silver tequila) is the classic choice. Its clean and crisp flavor complements the lime and sparkling water perfectly. However, feel free to experiment with reposado tequila for a touch of oaky complexity.

Is there a special type of sparkling water needed?

Topo Chico, a Mexican sparkling mineral water known for its subtle sweetness and minerality, is the traditional choice. However, any type of plain club soda or sparkling water you enjoy will work. (We like it best with Topo Chico!)

How strong is a typical ranch water?

A typical class of ranch water has 3 oz tequila, which is 2 shots. If desired, you can use less and have a more watered down drink.

Is ranch water a good alternative to other summer cocktails?

Absolutely! It’s lighter than margaritas or daiquiris, making it perfect for hot weather.

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Ranch water

Ranch Water Recipe


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 5 reviews

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

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 ounces* tequila
  • 1 ½ ounces fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 4 ounces Topo Chico or other sparkling mineral water
  • For serving: lime wedges or wheels, ice (try clear ice!)

Instructions

  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.

Notes

*To convert to ounces, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Mixed
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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18 Comments

  1. Sandy says:

    Agua de Rancho was invented in Mexico & made popular a long time ago in Southern California as all things do. Texas is way behind the fashions, food & cultural changes.
    “As California goes, so goes the nation.”

  2. Jeffrey Laycock says:

    I love the Ranch Water.
    I was interested in it from the Yellowstone commercial.
    Insolito Blanco tequila is the bomb.

    I’m going to try the others.






  3. Carolina says:

    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.






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Oh interesting! Thank you for sharing.

  4. Craig Hildreth says:

    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.






  5. Anonymous says:

    This was absolutely delicious! I don’t like sweet drinks at all so this was perfect

    1. Alex says:

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

      Thanks for the recipe, turned out great!






  6. G Sandridge says:

    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. Alex says:

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






  7. Anonymous says:

    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!

  8. Julie Corlew says:

    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.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Sorry you didn’t enjoy it! It’s definitely not a complex drink :)

  9. Chris Applen says:

    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.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Love it!

  10. Dalton Lee Gregory says:

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

    1. Jake Imber says:

      1/4 oz of simple syrup did it for me.

    2. Dwayne Hale says:

      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.

      1. Alex Overhiser says:

        Interesting!