Tequila – How Plant-Based Ingredients Create More Sustainable Cocktails

Tequila has become much more than the shot that is taken in the presence of lime and salt. Over the past decade, tequila has enjoyed a dramatic surge in popularity as a versatile drink, with increasingly sophisticated cocktails and shots being made from it.

Tequila is quickly becoming one of the most popular spirits to use in craft cocktails, such as margaritas and Palomas. Mixologists are also experimenting with tequila-based drinks containing fresh ingredients like jalapeno peppers, cucumbers and various citrus fruits.

The combination of sweet and tart flavours makes these concoctions enjoyable for a wide range of drinkers who may otherwise have shied away from tequila shots.

Another way that tequila is growing in popularity is as an ingredient in many other types of drink recipes — from potent punch bowls to summery spritzers to hot toddies.

Tequila mixes well with different liquor bases, including rum, whiskey, vodka and brandy, allowing bartenders to add interesting twists to traditional drinks or create entirely new ones. It can also bring out unexpected flavours when paired with other ingredients such as coffee liqueur or herbal liqueurs like Chartreuse.

In recent years, tequila has also seen an increase in popularity among those looking for healthier alternatives to sugary drinks or juices. Because it is derived from agave plant sugars instead of corn or cane sugar, tequila can be blended into light and flavorful mixed drinks without excessive amounts of sugar or calories. Additionally, since it is gluten-free alcohol it can be enjoyed by those who are sensitive to wheat-based products.

It’s clear that tequila has come a long way since its days as a basic shot sipped alongside lime wedges—and its growth shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. With so many possibilities for mixing up different drinks with this beloved spirit, there’s no doubt that tequila will continue to enjoy its newfound status as one of the hottest names on drink menus around the world.

We recently sat down with Alec Tesa, the founder of Eleven20 Tequila, to talk about the evolution of Tequila and the rise of how plant-based ingredients, like agave nectar and coconut water, are being used to create more sustainable and health-conscious cocktails.

Why do you think we have seen such a rise in plant-based ingredients in cocktails?

There are a few reasons why plant-based ingredients are becoming more popular in cocktails:

  • Health: Many people are looking for healthier alternatives to traditional ingredients, and plant-based ingredients are often seen as more healthful.
  • Sustainability: Using plant-based ingredients can be more environmentally friendly, as they often require fewer resources to produce and may have a lower carbon footprint.
  • Taste: Some plant-based ingredients can add unique flavours and aromas to cocktails, making them more interesting and complex.
  • Flexibility: Plant-based ingredients can often be used as substitutes for traditional ingredients, making them more versatile and allowing for the creation of new and innovative cocktails.
  • Trendiness: Plant-based diets and products are becoming more popular in general, so it’s not surprising that plant-based ingredients are also gaining popularity in cocktails.


Does any type of alcohol, tequila specifically, lend itself to making plant-based cocktails or are there certain elements you need to look for?

Any type of alcohol can be used to make plant-based cocktails, and there are no specific elements that you need to look for in order to make a plant-based cocktail with tequila

  • Cucumber margarita: Combine tequila, lime juice, agave syrup, and cucumber slices in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve over ice and garnish with a cucumber slice.
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  • Strawberry basil Paloma: Muddle strawberries and basil in a shaker, then add tequila, grapefruit juice, and a splash of simple syrup. Shake well and strain over ice.
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  • Tequila sunrise: Combine tequila, orange juice, and grenadine in a glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

You can also experiment with other plant-based ingredients like herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables to create your own unique plant-based tequila cocktails.

What makes Eleven20 Tequila different from other tequilas both clean and in cocktails?

Eleven20 Tequila is a premium spirit crafted with quality and sustainability in mind. The Mexican Agave used in the production of Eleven20 is harvested by hand, ensuring only the highest quality ingredients are used. This attention to detail gives the tequila a unique flavour profile that stands out from other brands. It has notes of honeycomb and butterscotch, making it ideal for sipping neat or using in cocktails. 

Eleven20 also offers a number of specialized tequila options for enhanced flavour and complexity. Along with an original Blanco, we have Reposado, Añejo, and Mezcal, which offer deeper notes, such as oak, caramel, vanilla, figs and pepper. 

When it comes to mixology, Eleven20 Tequila provides a range of possibilities for craft cocktails due to its complex flavour profile and sweet notes.

Tequila - How Plant-Based Ingredients Create More Sustainable Cocktails

Do you have any tips on how to balance the flavours of agave nectar and coconut water that are used in plant-based cocktails?

When using agave nectar and coconut water in your plant-based cocktails, it is important to balance the sweetness of the agave with the acidity of the coconut water. You can add a splash of lime juice or another citrus such as orange or grapefruit to add a little tartness and round out the flavour. Additionally, you can experiment with herbs and spices like basil, mint, chilli pepper or cumin to create a more complex flavour profile. Lastly, don’t forget to shake your cocktail well before serving to ensure that all the ingredients blend together perfectly!

How does using plant-based ingredients impact the flavour profile of cocktails?

Using plant-based ingredients in cocktails is an increasingly popular trend that positively impacts the overall flavour profile. Plant-based ingredients such as fruits, herbs, spices, and nuts can add complexity to a cocktail that is simply not achievable with traditional alcohol.

These ingredients can offer subtle sweetness or tartness, aromas, and mouthfeel that provide a unique sensory experience. For example, adding freshly squeezed oranges to a margarita gives the drink an extra layer of citrus, while cucumber adds a light burst of freshness. 

Using plant-based ingredients also allows for more creative possibilities when crafting cocktails. You can mix fruit juices to create something unique or infuse vegetables into spirits like vodka or gin; the options are endless! Finally, by opting for plant-based drinks, you’re reducing your environmental footprint compared to alcohol made from animal products such as milk or egg whites.

Are there any other unusual plants or ingredients that can be used to craft flavorful and sustainable drinks?

Absolutely! Plenty of unique plants and ingredients can be used to craft flavorful and sustainable drinks. For example, seaweed is a great source of umami flavour that adds an interesting depth to any cocktail. Other uncommon plants like rosemary and hibiscus are excellent for infusing into spirits or adding as a garnish on the rim of the glass. Herbs such as thyme and basil can even be muddled with sugar and citrus to create a fresh herb-infused syrup ideal for all types of cocktails. 

For those looking for something even more exotic, you can explore unusual fruits, spices, botanicals, and vegetables such as turmeric, beets, cardamom, mangoes, and avocados. By utilizing these ingredients in creative ways, you can create delicious drinks with a unique flavour profile that’s sure to please.

Are there any particular advantages or disadvantages of using plant-based ingredients in recipes for craft cocktails as opposed to traditional cocktails?

There are many advantages to using plant-based ingredients when crafting cocktails. Plant-based ingredients add layers of complexity and flavour, offer endless creative possibilities, and reduce your environmental footprint compared to alcohols made from animal products. These ingredients can also be easily modified according to personal preference or dietary restrictions.

The primary disadvantage of using plant-based ingredients is that it adds an extra layer of complexity to the crafting process, as you need to pay more attention to proportions and flavour combinations that are not always familiar. Additionally, sourcing unusual ingredients such as herbs and spices can be difficult in certain areas and thus requires more specialized knowledge.

Tequila - How Plant-Based Ingredients Create More Sustainable Cocktails

Do you have any tips on preparing vegan-friendly cocktails with Eleven20 Tequila

Absolutely! Here are some tips for preparing delicious vegan-friendly cocktails with Eleven20 Tequila:

1. Start with a plant-based mixer. Choose from juices, syrups, kombuchas or sodas that don’t contain animal products. Experiment to find the perfect combination of flavours.

2. Make sure you choose a vegan-friendly version of your favourite liqueur or spirit, such as Eleven20 Tequila and use it in place of traditional ingredients like cream, butter, and egg whites.

3. Utilize herbs and spices for an added layer of flavour and complexity, such as basil, mint, ginger or cumin. Muddle these ingredients and add them to your cocktail for an extra kick of flavour.

4. Incorporate vegetables like beets or carrots for a naturally sweet taste without any animal products needed.

5. Don’t forget to garnish your cocktails with edible flowers or other unique garnishes like sliced cucumbers or citrus wheels – they add a beautiful finishing touch!

Which type of plants or fruits pair best with Eleven20 Tequila when crafting creative beverages?

When crafting creative beverages with Eleven20 Tequila, a variety of plants or fruits can be used to pair with the spirit to create delicious cocktails. Some of the best ingredients to use are citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits. These acidic flavours help to balance out the sweetness of the tequila and add complexity to the cocktail. Other fruits like strawberries, pineapples and peaches also work well when combined with Eleven20 Tequila. Herbs and spices like basil, mint, jalapeno peppers or cumin can also add an extra layer of flavour to your cocktails.

How do the health benefits of using plant-based ingredients in your delicious cocktails compare to those produced with traditional cocktails?

Plant-based ingredients offer a variety of health benefits compared to traditional cocktail ingredients. Plant-based products are often non-alcoholic, making them lower in calories and sugar than traditional cocktails. Additionally, plant-based ingredients like herbs and spices can provide additional vitamins and minerals that would not be present in traditional cocktails. Furthermore, many plant-based ingredients are naturally sweetened with natural sweeteners such as agave nectar or coconut water, which can help reduce the number of artificial sugars used in your creations. These added health benefits can make your delicious cocktails even more nourishing and enjoyable!

Do you have a favourite recipe for a plant-based drink?

Yes! My favourite recipe for a plant-based beverage is a homemade Agave Lime Margarita. To make this delicious and refreshing cocktail, combine two ounces of Eleven20 Tequila, two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice, two tablespoons of agave syrup, and one teaspoon of orange liqueur in a shaker with ice. Shake the mixture up and then strain into a chilled margarita glass and garnish with a lime wedge. The sweet agave syrup adds a subtle sweetness to the tartness of the lime, while the orange liqueur adds a unique kick to this classic drink.

Tequila - How Plant-Based Ingredients Create More Sustainable Cocktails

Does the addition of plant-based ingredients add complexity or difficulty when creating new recipes for signature drinks?

Yes, adding plant-based ingredients can add complexity and difficulty when creating unique signature drinks. Plant-based ingredients like herbs and spices require a bit more finesse to balance out flavours, while some other types of plant-based products may be unfamiliar to mixologists, so experimentation is essential when coming up with new recipes. However, having a range of plant-based products on hand can open the door for more creative recipes that will bring a unique twist to your bar’s signature drinks. With the right combination of flavours and expertise, you can create delicious and complex cocktails for your guests.

What strategies do you employ when designing healthy yet indulgent vegan-friendly cocktail recipes?

I focus on using natural sweeteners like agave and maple syrup, as well as fresh fruits and juices instead of processed sugars. I also look for alternatives to dairy ingredients like coconut cream or almond milk. Additionally, I take advantage of herbs and spices that can add layers of flavour while still keeping the cocktails light and refreshing. Using plant-based liqueurs such as cachaça or pisco can add a unique twist to classic drinks. 

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