While whiskey lovers may instinctively reach for an aged product, Martini says to leave the añejo and reposado tequilas on the shelf. “To me, the older the spirit, the more you take away from the essence of the drink. If you’re making it with an extra añejo, you’ve eliminated the light nature of the cocktail.”
Margarita fans should also resist the urge to add salt—on the rim or in the drink. “If you must garnish, I’d recommend squeezing the lime, then shoving it into the bottle it was hopefully served in,” Martini says.
One thing everyone seems to agree on: Ranch water is defined by Topo Chico, the Mexican carbonated water that’s soared in popularity (comparable to the ranch water). And thank goodness for that, because its popularity has made it significantly easier to track down outside of Texas.
Why Topo Chico? Well, there’s a cultural reason, and a scientific one. “Topo is so effervescent,” says Martini. “When you have a three-ingredient recipe and one of those ingredients is almost 80 percent of the cocktail, you should probably aim for the best version of that ingredient. I don’t know what magic Topo found, but it’s easily the best sparkling water I’ve had. If not Topo, make sure your soda is as carbonated as possible. That’s the key.”
The ranch water is still growing its audience, but it has a powerful home state movement behind it. “Texas doesn’t have a rich history of original cocktails,” says Martini, “but the ranch water is absolutely a Texas cocktail. It’s becoming trendy and that makes me happy, but it’s becoming trendy because it’s delicious.”