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

Ranch water

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 this drink. After one sip, we were sold! It’s like a bubbly, lighter spin on the classic margarita, with all the tangy citrus but less sweetness and booze. Could there be anything more refreshing?

What’s 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 in Ranch Water are:

  • Tequila
  • Lime juice
  • 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

How to make Ranch Water

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 approximate formula. Keep those bubbles on hand to refresh your drink when you need it. Here’s how to make Ranch Water:

  • Place 3 ounces tequila in a glass (2 shots).
  • Mix in 1 ½ ounces fresh lime juice (the juice of about 1 medium lime).
  • Fill the glass with ice.
  • Top it off with 4 ounces 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 it doesn’t require pulling out a top shelf liquor. Find a mid-priced tequila for Ranch Water: typically this correlates to the quality of the alcohol. 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:

  1. Espolon Blanco: inexpensive tequila blanco
  2. El Tesoro Blanco: mid-priced tequila blanco
  3. Patrón Silver: mid-priced tequila blanco
  4. Milagro Reposado: mid-priced tequila reposado
  5. Suerte Reposado: mid-priced tequila reposado
Ranch water

More tequila drinks

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

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Ranch water

Ranch Water Recipe

  • 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 cocktail made with lime and Topo Chico! This drink is all about cooling off on hot days.


  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) tequila
  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) fresh lime juice
  • 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

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.

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  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.