The Ranch Water Cocktail Is Having a Moment, Thanks in Part to ‘Selling the OC’
Fans of Selling the OC want to know: What is Ranch Water? In the Netflix reality show’s sixth episode, real estate agent Kayla Cardona meets Tyler Stanaland (husband of Pitch Perfect actress Brittany Snow) at a bar to apologize for a certain transgression we won’t spoil here. And that’s when Tyler gives his eyebrow-raising drink order to the waiter: “Can I please do a Ranch Water?” he asks.
And Twitter users have been asking about Ranch Water for months now. “What is Ranch Water, and why am I starting to see it on every menu?” one tweeted in July.
“What is Ranch Water, and why is everyone obsessed with it this summer?” another asked a year prior.
The name even baffled The Washington Post cocktail columnist M. Carrie Allan. “When I first heard of Ranch Water, I’ll admit I cast up a quiet plea to heaven: Please Lord, do not let this drink contain ranch dressing,” she wrote last year.
Ranch Water is a tequila cocktail that’s popular in Texas — and catching on elsewhere.
As Wine Enthusiast explains, Ranch Water is a tequila highball cocktail that’s now a “summertime staple across the U.S.” It has just three ingredients: tequila, lime juice, and sparkling mineral water. Any sparkling mineral water will do, but some Ranch Water buffs swear by the Topo Chico seltzer brand. (Wine Enthusiast says Topo Chico is a “highly carbonated option with vigorous bubbles that act [as] tiny magnifying glasses for the tequila’s flavors, while retaining effervescence as you sip.”
According to Chron, Ranch Water is having a bona fide “moment” right now, especially in Houston, where it’s showing up at bars, parties, and even picnics. The website even heralds a “Ranch Water craze,” noting all the canned cocktails now available at stores.
Karbach Brewing Company offers canned Ranch Water in original lime, prickly pear, spicy mango, grapefruit, watermelon, and Meyer lemon varieties, for example. Ranch Rider Spirits Co. boasts a jalapeño-flavored Ranch Water. And even Topo Chico sells its own canned Ranch Water.
An Austin chef is credited as the creator of the Ranch Water cocktail.
For her column about the cocktail, M. Carrie tried to find the origins of Ranch Water, and her search led to Kevin Williamson, who was the chef of owner of Ranch 616 in Austin, Texas. Williamson — who died in November 2021 at age 59, according to CultureMap — told M. Carrie that he had it on his menu since 1998 and even applied for a trademark for the beverage.
“The way we served it, which I think is one of the reasons it was a hit, was as a strong margarita, three-quarters of the way up in a Collins glass, and we gave the customer the full bottle of Topo Chico, so they were in charge of diluting their own drink,” Kevin added. “Some people would just sip the Topo Chico back. Sorority girls from UT put as much water as they could so they could drink more. Everybody has their own sense of ownership for it.”