Vodka vs Tequila - What's The Difference Guide

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You may have had some amazing cocktails last night, but you can’t remember the difference between vodka vs tequila. Don’t worry; you’re not alone—many of us know our favorite drinks by name but not by their key ingredients.

So let’s dive right in: vodka and tequila are two of the most popular spirits in the world today—for a good reason! Both offer a unique flavor and various options that can please any palate. While it may be tempting to immediately jump into what makes them different, it’s important to look at each of these spirits and their individual qualities.

From there, we can explore how one differs and why some prefer one. Ready to begin? Let’s go!

Vodka vs Tequila

There are a few key distinctions between the two spirits regarding vodka and tequila. The most immediate one is their core ingredients: vodka is made from grains and potatoes, while tequila is made from blue agave. This difference creates different flavor profiles that cater to different people’s tastes.

Vodka is known for its clean and crisp taste, while tequila has a richer, smoother flavor with a bit of a kick. It also goes through more of a distillation process than vodka, resulting in its distinct flavor.

Vodka is usually best served neat or as part of a cocktail like a martini or a screwdriver. Conversely, tequila is often served with juices and other mixers, such as lime juice or orange juice, that complement its sweet taste. Tequila is also more versatile than vodka – you can use it to make margaritas or other cocktails or drink it straight, like tequila shots with salt and lime.

Your preference for vodka or tequila may come down to personal taste!

The Basics of Vodka

Vodka Spirit Being Poured From Bottle

Now let’s learn more about the basics of vodka. Despite the unclear origin of vodka, it is commonly thought to have originated in the 9th century in Eastern Europe. It was first used as a medicinal cure and then as an additive in food and drinks. Vodka is made from fermented grains or potatoes distilled to form a neutral spirit without a distinct taste or smell. It is typically filtered multiple times through charcoal for additional purification before bottling.

Vodka is usually 40% alcohol by volume (80-proof) but can range from 30-95%. Due to its high alcohol content, it has no other flavors beyond a slightly sweet and sharp taste, making it perfect for adding flavor without overwhelming your drink. That’s why vodka works great for classic drinks like martinis, cosmopolitans, and other cocktail mixes.

The Basics of Tequila

Three Tequila Shots with Lime and Salt

While vodka is primarily made using grains and potatoes, tequila is predominantly made from the blue agave plant in Jalisco, Mexico’s highlands. Its production process spans up to 12 weeks—way longer than vodka’s—and includes the following steps:

  1. Harvesting – The agave plants are hand-harvested; only the center piña (heart) is used for tequila production.
  2. Cooking – The piñas are cooked for several hours in ovens or large autoclaves until their natural sugars are released into a juice that can be fermented.
  3. Extracting – Agave juice is extracted from the cooked piñas through mechanical or stone milling, which releases aguamiel (honey water).
  4. Fermenting – The aguamiel undergoes natural fermentation when its sugars are converted into alcohol by yeasts found in the air or added manually to accelerate the process.
  5. Distilling – Double distillation occurs after the fermentation until only colorless volatile spirits remain (at least 80 proof).
  6. Aging – The colorless spirits can now either remain “blanco” (unaged) or can be stored in oak barrels for different time periods until they become añejo (“aged”).
  7. Bottling – After aging and other processes, tequila is bottled into signature bottles with a NOM identifier provided by Mexican law to identify those authorized for production in Mexico according to their origin and quality standards.

Understanding the Different Types of Vodka and Tequila

When it comes to vodka vs tequila, there are actually a few different types of each. It all depends on what type of alcohol you’re looking for and the taste you want. Let’s break down the different types of vodka and tequila so you can make an informed decision the next time you buy drinks.

Types of Vodka

The most common form of vodka is grain- or wheat-based, but there is also potato- and fruit-based vodka. The flavor can range from smooth to sharp bite, depending on how it’s made. Some popular brands are Absolut, Smirnoff, Ketel One, and Gray Goose.

Types of Tequila

Tequila comes from the blue agave plant, giving it a unique flavor that ranges from sweet to spicy or smoky. There are also various levels of quality when it comes to tequila. Silver or Blanco tequila is the most common type typically used for margaritas and other cocktails. Gold or Joven tequila has been aged for several months in oak barrels, giving it an earthy flavor with a hint of woodiness. Reposado and Añejo tequilas have been aged even longer — from six months up to one year while Añejo can be aged between one to three years — giving them even more complexity and character than their lighter counterparts.

With these different types of vodka and tequila, it’s easy to see why people have trouble deciding between them. So if you’re looking for something smooth or something smoky, there’s an option that will fit.

Comparing Flavor Profiles of Vodka and Tequila

Believe it or not, there are big differences in flavor between vodka and tequila. Vodka’s flavor can sometimes range from sweet to bitter, depending on the type of grain used to make it. It can also be described as having a hint of sweetness, a faint fruity note, and a smooth finish.

Conversely, tequila is made from the blue agave plant and has a distinct smoky flavor. It is often described as having a sweet, earthy taste with hints of peppery spice, citrus notes, and a slightly salty finish.

Overall, you can say that vodka has a more clean taste due to its lack of sugar content, while tequila has more complexity due to its smoky flavors. For those who enjoy rich flavors with notes of spice and sweetness, tequila might be the better choice.

Where are Vodka and Tequila Made?

Do you know where your favorite vodka or tequila is made? That makes a big difference when it comes to taste and even how it’s enjoyed.


Vodka is traditionally made from cereal grains, though some distillers use potatoes, grapes, and soybeans. The ingredients are milled, mixed with water, and then fermented into an alcoholic wash. This wash is then distilled at least three times before bottling. Vodka is usually made in Russia and Poland but also has a strong presence in the northern countries of Scandinavia, especially Sweden.


Tequila Bottle in Field of Blue Agave Plants

Tequila is a Mexican drink that’s celebrated around the world. It’s created with agave plants—there are over 200 species of agave plants, but tequila must be made from one species in particular: agave tequilana Weber or blue agave (Agavaceae). After the mature heart of the plant is roasted or steamed, it’s mashed into a fibrous pulp and then fermented into a liquid before being distilled twice. Tequila production is limited to five specific states in Mexico: Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, Tamaulipas, and Jalisco.

Although vodka and tequila have different origins and production methods, both drinks can make for delicious cocktails when combined with other ingredients—no matter where they’re from!

Vodka vs Tequila Alcohol Content

Ever wonder why tequila gives you a worse hangover than vodka? Well, most brands actually have the same alcohol content at around 40% ABV or 80 proof.

While vodka is generally smoother with fewer impurities than tequila, it also has less of an impact on you — so it’s better for sipping over long periods of time. Many cheaper tequilas often contain high amounts of congeners or impurities within the spirit; they also contain higher sugar levels, leading to worse hangovers.

Tequila, on the other hand, packs a punch, so if you’re downing shots and trying to get drunk quickly, tequila is your friend. It’s more flavor and potent — so if you’re looking for an intense night out with friends, don’t forget to bring some tequila!

Some Similarities Between Tequila and Vodka

Even though there are some clear differences between tequila and vodka, it’s important to note there are also some similarities. For example, both spirits are made from distilled grains or plants, which makes them a more pure form of alcohol. In addition, both tequila and vodka can come in a wide range of flavors and strengths — from extra smooth, 80-proof vodkas to pepper or cream-infused tequilas and even high-proof ones.

The production process is also similar between the two spirits. Vodka is often distilled multiple times before being sold in stores, while tequila is traditionally made in one distilling process by fermenting agave’s natural sugars. In addition, both spirits are often aged in wood barrels to give them a richer color and flavor before being bottled and served.

So even though there have been some clear differences between vodka and tequila, it’s important to note that there are also quite a few similarities between these two spirits!

Tequila vs Vodka: Which is Better for Weight Loss?

You may not realize it, but vodka and tequila can be quite different regarding weight loss.

Vodka is a distilled spirit made from grains or potatoes. It’s low in calories and carbohydrates, so it’s often the choice of those looking to stick to a health-conscious diet. A serving of vodka (1.5 oz) generally contains around 100 calories per shot, making it one of the lowest-calorie alcoholic drinks available.

On the other hand, agave plants that are found predominantly in Mexico are used to make tequila. It’s slightly lower in calories than vodka (97 calories for a 1.5-oz serving). While some tequilas can be high in carbs and sugar, some varieties are low in both carbs and sugar if you shop around carefully.

So regarding weight loss and health concerns, vodka, and tequila can be great options if you pay attention to what you’re drinking. Purely on sugar content, vodka is healthier than tequila. Both provide fewer calories than other alcoholic drinks like beer or sweet cocktails, so they can be beneficial when reducing your calorie intake while still enjoying a drink or two with friends.

Vodka or Tequila: Which Has Less Sugar?

Ah, the age-old question: which one has less sugar? If you’re looking for a low-sugar choice, you’ll be happy to know that vodka tends to have less sugar than tequila.

Vodka usually has no sugar and lower calories than tequila because, unlike tequila, it’s not derived from the fermentation of a natural sugar source like agave. But while vodka doesn’t contain any natural sugars, many flavored versions are made with added sugars or sweeteners. So if you’re looking for a truly low-sugar option, stick to unflavored vodkas and limit your consumption.

As for tequila, it can contain up to 0.1% sugar as it is naturally derived from agave plants. However, Super Premium Tequilas are made with 100% blue Weber agave, meaning they have no added sugars or sweeteners. So if you’re looking for a lower-sugar option when drinking tequila, choose Super Premium Tequilas and be mindful of how much you consume.

Mixers That Make Vodka & Tequila Unique

Now that you know the basics, let’s discuss how vodka and tequila can differ when you mix it with other ingredients. These mixers can change the flavor and create a different drinking experience.

Vodka Mixers

Vodka’s versatility knows no bounds. It can be blended with various beverages, including fruit juices and sodas, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a low-calorie alternative. Vodkas made with fruit or herbal extracts can lend unique flavors to your cocktail, while citrus juices add brightness. Just keep in mind that too much mixer will dilute the alcohol content.

Tequila Mixers

Tequila is known for its sweet and spicy flavor profile and goes well with citrus juices like lime or orange juice. You can also try out seltzers or sparkling waters, which make a great lower-alcohol drink when combined with tequila. To experiment more, combine tequila with tomato juice or ginger beer.

Common Cocktails Using Vodka & Tequila

Cocktails are a tasty way to enjoy vodka or tequila—but what drinks use each type of liquor? Let’s explore some of the most popular cocktails made with these kinds of alcohol.

Vodka Cocktails

Popular vodka cocktails include:

  • The Moscow Mule, which is vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer
  • The Vodka Martini, which is vodka, dry vermouth, and garnished with an olive
  • The Screwdriver, which is vodka and orange juice
  • The Bloody Mary, which is vodka, tomato juice, and spices.
  • Perfect Vodka Sour Recipe
  • Refreshing Vodka Press Recipe

Tequila Cocktails

Popular tequila cocktails include:

  • Margaritas, which are tequila, triple sec, and lime juice
  • Palomas, which are tequila and grapefruit soda
  • Tequila Sunrises, which are tequila, orange juice, and grenadine syrup.
  • Tequilas Mockingbird, which are tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda.
  • Delicious Tequila Sour Recipe
  • Authentic Mexican Candy Shot

Whether you’re a fan of a classic Margarita or like to mix it up with a tequila’s Mockingbird—there’s a cocktail out there for everyone that uses either vodka or tequila!

Vodka vs Tequila: Which is Healthier?

Another major difference between vodka and tequila is their health benefits. Now, of course, drinking any alcohol isn’t really good for you — but some drinks might be healthier than others. So if you’re looking for something that packs less punch for your body, which one should you choose?


If you’re opting for vodka, you’re making a good choice regarding calories and carbs since it generally contains the least. A 1.5-ounce serving of vodka has about 97 calories and 0 grams of carbohydrates, so it’s arguably the lightest choice in terms of drinks.


When it comes to tequila, there’s both good news and bad news. Tequila has roughly the same amount of calories as vodka per serving — but if you opt for an aged variety like reposado or anejo tequilas, they have fewer carbs than vodka’s 0 grams per serving. On the downside, though, tequila contains more congeners (byproducts from fermentation) than vodka does — and these can contribute to headaches or stomach irritation after drinking the spirit.

There is often some sugar in tequila, so it might not be the best option if you need to keep your blood sugar levels low.

Ultimately, that means that if you’re trying to stay healthier with your spirits, vodka is probably your best bet — but at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference!

Calories in Tequila

When it comes to calories, vodka, and tequila differ quite a bit. While both drinks contain no fat content, knowing the differences between vodka and tequila is important if you watch your calorie intake.

According to the USDA, a single 1.5 oz shot of 80-proof vodka contains 96 calories, while the same amount of 80-proof tequila contains about 97 calories. Between the two spirits, vodka contains fewer calories and carbohydrates per serving.

But tequila contains two ingredients that can increase the fat content: agavins and fructans. Agavins are sugar molecules found in agave plants and act as natural sweeteners. Fructans are long-chain carbohydrates that slow down digestion and absorption of sugar, making them great for weight loss. So while vodka has fewer calories overall, tequila can provide some health benefits if consumed in moderation.

Calories in Vodka

Another interesting fact about vodka is how many calories it has. Vodka contains about 96 calories per 1.5-ounce shot, compared to the approximately 97 calories in a shot of tequila. That might not sound like much of a difference, but when you’re counting your calories, you might want to choose one of these spirits over the other when choosing your drink.

Then there’s ABV or the alcohol by volume. Vodka and tequila both typically have around 40 percent ABV.

So when it comes down to it, both vodka and tequila have their own merits – and if you’re watching your waistline, you’ll want to go for the one with fewer calories per shot as the healthier option.

Differences Between Tequila and Vodka

Vodka and tequila are distinct distilled spirits often consumed as shots or mixed into cocktails. Most vodkas is typically made from grains or potatoes, while tequila is distilled from the blue agave plant. Vodka is a clear, neutral spirit that can be flavored with various fruits, herbs, or spices, while tequila has a distinct, sweeter taste due to the natural sugars in the agave plant.

A standard 1.5-ounce shot of vodka is 1.5 ounces contains 96 calories, while a serving of tequila at room temperature is about the same size but contains around 100 to 150 calories. A 750 ml bottle of vodka contains approximately one thousand calories, whereas a bottle of tequila is usually around 750 calories. Although tequila is less potent than vodka, it has a stronger flavor and is often sipped rather than taken as a shot. Premium tequila is more expensive and of higher quality than regular tequila and is often aged in oak barrels to enhance its flavor.

Tequila or Vodka?

Vodka usually doesn’t contain any sugar or carbohydrates, making it a good choice for people trying to lose weight if you want to drink alcohol. It can also be a good option for those who have diabetes or are watching their sugar intake. On the other hand, tequila contains approximately 5 grams of carbohydrates per 1.5-ounce serving, but it is also less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar due to its lower glycemic index. Some people claim that tequila is diabetic-friendly and believe that it can even help lower blood sugar levels.

In conclusion, while tequila and vodka are equally potent, they have different taste profiles and nutritional content. Vodka is typically made from grains or potatoes and contains fewer calories, whereas tequila is a distilled spirit made from the agave plant and has a sweeter taste. Vodka may be an excellent choice for people watching their weight or sugar intake. At the same time, agave tequila is a good option for those looking for a stronger flavor with fewer calories that is low in sugar than many other alcoholic beverages. Ultimately, the quality of the tequila or vodka will also play a role in the taste and effects of the drink.


When it comes to vodka vs tequila, you may have some questions. Here are the answers to some of the top FAQs about these two classic spirits:

How is each spirit made?

Vodka is made from any grain or potato, while tequila is made from the blue agave plant.

What kind of alcohol content does each spirit have?

Vodka typically has an alcohol content of around 40%, while tequila can range from 35% to 55%.

What different varieties of each spirit are available?

Vodka can be flavored or unflavored and can range from clear to a yellow-brown color, while tequila comes in three varieties: blanco (also known as silver), reposado (aged 2-12 months), and añejo (aged 1-3 years). Flavored vodka usually contains added ingredients and sugar, so consider this.

Can I mix vodka and tequila in a cocktail?

Yes—many delicious cocktails mix vodka and tequila, including the Tequila Sunrise and Long Island Iced Tea. Have fun experimenting!


Regardless of your choice, vodka and tequila have unique flavor profiles and origins that can be appreciated. Try them both and find out which one works best for you and your palette—and don’t forget to sample some of the creative, tasty cocktails that can be made using both.

For those looking for something different, vodka and tequila have unique taste profiles you don’t find in other liquors. The differences don’t stop there either, with each having its unique production process and flavor profiles, making an interesting comparison.

Regardless of your choice, seeking a quality product with care will make all the difference when tasting and indulging. So enjoy responsibly and find out which one speaks to you.