Texas Ranch Water is a simple, three-ingredient cocktail. Cowboys just wanted to put their feet up. Drink cold water with a hint of lime and alcohol after a hard day’s work. Thus, the cocktail that is popular today was born. Nico Martini wrote the book Texas Cocktails: The Second Edition: An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes Inspired by the Lone Star State in 2022. The book gave the readers an idea about how the Texas Ranch Water evolved over the years. It also justifies the cocktail’s current and rightful place in Texas culture and identity. Martini calls it “THE Texas cocktail.” He also said that it will be “forever associated with our state” and that it is “the most important of all Texas cocktails.”
Texas Ranch Water Trivia
- Nico Martini describes Texas Ranch Water as a “uniquely West Texas drink.” The book delves into the possible history of this cocktail drink, going as far back as the 1960s in Marathon, Texas. According to his book, this cocktail has been served to countless customers drinking at The Gage Hotel but it was only in 2010 that the hotel made it official, finally putting this drink on the menu. But for the people of Austin, there is a different claim and a different story: the cocktail originates in Austin and was created during the 90s.
- According to an online article, bars in Austin, Marfa, Midland, and other bars in Texas are all claiming that the Texas Ranch Water was first made there.
- Many bartenders have made different variations of the Texas Ranch Water, including the one described in the book Fever-Tree Easy Mixing, which has a version of the drink that contains “spicy red chilli, cooling cucumber and a handful of herby basil to create a drink with fiery but floral depths.”
Texas Ranch Water Buying Guide
If you are in Texas, it is not difficult to find a bar that serves Texas Ranch Water. Ready-to-drink Texas Ranch Water is also sold all over Texas. You can go to your local grocery or supermarket that sells alcoholic beverages.
When ordering Texas Ranch Water:
- Ask if it is made using Topo Chico. It is ok if it is not. This is just to manage your expectations. Besides, anyone who wants an authentic Texas Ranch Water would want a cocktail that includes Topo Chico.
- Ask family or friends who’ve had it, and ask for recommendations on which bar serves the best cocktail. You can also look up these bars online and see the reviews from customers. This way, you know your choices and you have the chance to pick which one you’d like to try.
- If you are planning on ordering more than one cocktail drink, try ordering Texas Ranch Water first so that you can appreciate the taste while you are still sober and your mouth is not yet numbed by the taste of different cocktails and drinks.
- Ask the bartender if you can have the authentic mix: ice, lime, tequila, and Topo Chico. Hold off any additional ingredients and save it for the next order, just in case you want to compare which version you like.
When buying ready-to-drink (RTD) Texas Ranch Water:
- Read the label. Make sure there is real tequila inside the cans and not just a tequila-flavored mix.
- Make sure the can has no damage whatsoever that could’ve compromised the quality and safety of the beverage inside.
- Buy the one that’s on the refrigerator or cooler and not the one on the shelf, so that you have a cold drink. Unless you are drinking later and you still have time to refrigerate it or put it in a cooler or icebox.
Texas Ranch Water Production & Farming in Texas
The original purpose for making what we know today as the Texas Ranch Water is to give tired cowboys and ranch workers a beverage that is thirst-quenching, refreshing, and packs just enough alcohol to relax the mind and body after a long day’s work. Kaitlyn Yarborough wrote an article for Southern Living entitled “Texas Ranch Water” and Yarborough describes Texas Ranch Water as a drink that is perfect for “hot, balmy Texas summer.”
Today, many bars in Texas (and outside of the Lone Star State continues to reproduce this drink. Many bartenders/mixologists also took the liberty of producing a Texas Ranch Water with a personal flare, in the effort to set the cocktail drink apart from how others do theirs.
The demand for Texas Ranch Water is high that many companies are producing ready-to-drink (RTD) ranch water, like Ranch Rider Spirits Company Ranch Water and Cantina Ranch Water (both from Austin), Lone River Beverage Company Ranch Water (from Midland), Karbach Brewing Company Ranch Water (from Houston), and Epic Western Ranch Water (from Dallas-Fort Worth).
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals
There are different opinions regarding the use of additional ingredients when making Texas Ranch Water. Some say it is not Texas Ranch Water when the cocktail contains more than the three basic ingredients and when the added ingredient alters the flavor profile of the drink. Some disagree, arguing that putting additional ingredients is an expression of individual creativity, a bartender’s way of interpreting a classic cocktail drink and making it his/her own.
Bartenders and mixologists experimented on the Texas Ranch Water, trying to see how they can make the cocktail unique and give the customers something new without moving away too much from the essence of Texas Ranch Water. If you want to add a twist, consider these tips:
- add simple syrup or liqueur to make it sweeter, or fresh juice like grape juice
- use reposado (tequila aged in barrels for two months to a year) or mezcal to highlight the flavor of the alcohol
- put salt or tajin on the rim or inside the drink
- use chili lime seasoning on the rim
- add a spice or pickled jalapeno slices
- add another garnish, like herbs or lemon wedge
- instead of Topo Chico, use another alternative (mineral-heavy mineral water)
- make a non-alcoholic Texas Ranch Water, like the mocktail made in this YouTube video
Texas Ranch Water is a cocktail drink with origins in West Texas. If you are in Texas, visit Armadillo Den and Ranch 616 in Austin, Silver Creek Beer Garden and Grille in Fredericksburg, Eight Row Flint in Houston, Mi Rancho Mexican Grill & Bar in Shenandoah, The Local Sports Bar in Granbury, and Truck Yard in The Colony for a taste of local Texas Ranch Water.
Today, it is common to find this cocktail on the menu in bars all around – even outside of – Texas (for example, a bar in New Orleans called El Cucuy has Ranch Water on the menu, according to an online article). Ranch20 Spirits ready-to-drink ranch water is sold in Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. June Shine Spirits, from San Diego, makes June Shine Tequila Ranch Water. Tequila Cazadores, from Jalisco, Mexico, also makes ready-to-drink ranch water.
Texas Ranch Water has gained following and appreciation outside of Texas for a single reason: it is a great cocktail drink to have especially during the summer, and every part of the US has to deal with hot weather once a year, and a glass of Texas Ranch Water is a great way to stay refreshed and get a mild buzz.
Ready-to-drink Texas Ranch Water comes in aluminum cans with easy-to-open tabs. The details in the packaging indicate what’s inside the can. Read the details so that you know if there is real tequila in your drink.
Packaging is very important not just for presentation or to entice customers to buy; packaging also secures the content so that it is not contaminated. Check the packaging for any signs of damage or tampering. Do not buy items with damaged or tampered packaging for health and safety reasons.
Enjoying Texas Ranch Water
Do you want to have an idea of how it tastes? An online article by Sonja Overhiser describes Texas Ranch Water as a “bubbly, lighter version of the classic margarita.” Brian Bartels, who wrote the 2020 book The United States of Cocktails: Recipes, Tales, and Traditions from All 50 States, agrees. “The Ranch Water cocktail is a spritz-y Margarita variation.”
The evening does not end with a glass of Texas Ranch Water. Tequila, an effective aperitif, can get your appetite going. After your thirst has been quenched by a glass of Texas Ranch Water, the question now is what to eat.
Restaurants serving Texas Ranch Water offer a lot of food choices that are suitable for this kind of cocktail drink. From typical bar chow or finger foods like jalapeño poppers to entrée dishes (red meat, chicken, fish, vegetables), Texas Ranch Water is the type of cocktail drink that goes well with almost any kind of food at the table.
Refrigerate cans of ready-to-drink Texas Ranch Water if you want to drink them cold. For sellers or vendors, you can store these in a cool dry place. Do not store them where they are exposed to direct sunlight, or where the temperature is too high. This will have an undesirable effect on the beverage.
How to make Texas Ranch Water
Making a glass of Texas Ranch Water is easy. Put ice in a highball glass, add three ounces (or two shots) of tequila, one ounce (or a shot) of fresh lime juice, add Topo Chico, and garnish with a fresh lime wedge. Adjustments can be made. Any glass will do instead of a highball glass. If there is no Topo Chico where you live, you can use different mineral water. Instead of fresh lime juice, you can also use single-pressed lime juice or juice in a box or bottle sold in supermarkets and grocery stores. If you do not want to use ice cubes, you can also try crushed ice!
You don’t drink tequila for health reasons. But if drinking moderate amounts of tequila offers the body some useful benefits, it’s a plus.
Tequila is one of the three main ingredients of the Texas Ranch Water. Drinking this cocktail (and by extension, drinking tequila) could result in something beneficial for the body. An article from The San Diego Union-Tribune lists helping lower cholesterol and improving digestion as some of the benefits of drinking tequila. According to a 2018 article from Independent, tequila is good for the bones. It also helps in digestion, weight loss, and insomnia. A Men’s Health article lists the same benefits. It also mentioned that if you are diabetic, tequila can help raise your insulin level.
Another ingredient of Texas Ranch Water is lime. Limes contain vitamin C, which helps fight oxidative stress caused by free radicals. The citric acid in limes helps reduce the risk of developing kidney stones by slowing down – even stopping – the formation of stones. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron. This can help people get sufficient iron in their diet.
The third (and some say most important and irreplaceable) ingredient of the Texas Ranch Water is Topo Chico, a brand of sparkling mineral water sourced and bottled in Monterrey, Mexico since 1895. Water is important not just to quench our thirst. It is essential in many important bodily functions. An online article lists some of the benefits of drinking mineral water, which include helping improve bone and heart health, and lower blood pressure. It can also help people suffering from constipation because of the magnesium in mineral water. A story from KXAN, a Houston-based news agency, reports that improved digestion and sleep, as well as stimulating “the production of collagen and elastin”, are among the benefits of drinking Topo Chico.