drink recipes & mixing instructions

Tequila

The name of this drink originated from the city of Tequila in Mexico, which was known for growing rich blue agave plants in the deep red soil. Though production of this drink is dated to the 17th century, the Aztecs are understood to have made it long before. In 1600 Don Pedro Sanchez de Tagle began mass-producing tequila, but the first official licensed manufacturer was a man named Jose Antonio Cuervo, Sr. He was granted the right from the King of Spain to cultivate land for the purpose of growing blue agave in 1758. Tequila grew in popularity, but did not achieve its prominence until after 1821 when Mexico attained independence, and citizens struggles to find alcoholic Spanish products. After the Second World War, the Mexican government determined that any product called "tequila" had to be produced in the state of Jalisco, where the drink originated. In 1947, further standards of tequila making were established, including the necessary use of at least 51% agave juice in the production. Most tequilas are created from 100% blue agave, in the traditional method, and to this day, drinks of distilled agave are not recognized as tequila unless they are made in Mexico.

Tequila Composition & Alcohol Content

Made from fermented agave, in Mexico and is usually around 38-40% alcohol content. The preparation of the agave takes considerable care, and must be cultivated properly to allow maximal flavor in the fermentation process. The harvested agave is baked to turn the starchiness into complex sugars. The extracted agave juice is stored in steel or wooden vats and left to ferment. It is then process through a distillery anywhere from one to five times, to achieve the clarity that is so characteristic of tequila. After this process, the tequila is served in glass bottles as the "silver" or "clear" product, or is stored in wooden barrels to age into a rich, amber liquid.

Culinary Uses

Tequila is often added to dishes like summer fruit salad, to enhance the sweetness of fruits like watermelon, etc. It is also mixed with lime and used on seasonings for main dishes like Chicken Lime Wings, or Guy Fieri's Tequila Wings. Some steam clams with tequila and water to add some flavor to the shellfish. Tequila is also mixed with cilantro and lime for a fresh salad dressing, or glazed onto ribs with guava and ginger glaze for tropical flavors. Others have soaked pineapple in tequila for grilled pound cake garnishes, or added it to numerous homemade cocktail mixes, tropical fruit-blend smoothies and popsicles for a fresh summer treat.

Types of Tequila & Consumption

Location plays a distinctive factor as to what the tequila tastes like. Agave that is grown in the highlands will typically have sweeter and lighter tequila, while agave grown in the low lands has a richer earthier tone.

Another important element to note is the changing climate. With the increasingly hot summers, the blue agave plants used to require about ten years, whereas now the agaves seem to mature in half that time, which accumulates less sugar content in the plant, and changes the taste of the product.

Types of Tequila

  • Blanco: is the white (clear) spirit which is bottled right away and not aged.
  • Joven: is the "young" tequila which is sometimes flavored with different elements such as sugar syrup, or caramel coloring.
  • Reposado: is aged in wooden barrels for a minimum two months, but not longer than a year.
  • Anejo / Extra Anejo: are considered the "vintage" options, which are ages from 1-3 years, or for the Extra Anejo, for 3+ years.

Most Popular Way to Drink Tequila

with lime and salt, outside of Mexico. People will first lick the salt off the back of their hand, drink a shot of tequila, and bite into a lime as a chaser. This lessens the severity of the burning tequila, and the lime enhances the flavor. In Mexico, tequila typically is served straight, or with tomato juice or hot chilies. Common cocktails: Margaritas, Tequila Sunrise, Paloma, Juan Collins, Brave Bulls (tequila and kahlua on the rocks), Bloody Maria, and Envy (blue curacao, pineapple and tequila), etc.

For the Connoisseur

For inexpensive options, the Montejima Reposado and the Los Azulejos Reposado both are priced around $50 and still maintain distinct agave flavor. Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia is an extra-anejo which is priced at $120, and is a very respectable tequila. Don Julio Real, was founded in 1942 and remains one of the most popular brands. The drink is aged 3-7 years, and costs $350 per bottle. AsomBroso 11 Year Anejo, is created from 10 year old agave plants, and aged even longer than that in French oak barrels, and is priced at $1,200 per bottle. Though there has been some debate as to what is the most expensive tequila in the world, the Jose Cuervo 250 Aniversario Tequila, of which only 495 bottles were made, ranks as the most expensive, selling at $2,500 per bottle.