Have you ever woken after a night out and regretted everything since the first shot of tequila? Of course you have. After all, why would you pay for a drink that needs salt and lemon just to mask its flavour?
News flash – it’s not tequila, it’s the cheap drain water that we call tequila. When enjoyed correctly, tequila can be as fine a drinking choice as scotch or bourbon. We’re here to tell you what to look for in a tequila, how to drink it and a few of our personal tequila cocktail recommendations.
Tequila has somewhat of a reputation for night-erasing and horrific hangovers, however in Mexico where the spirit originates it is something to be appreciated among all social classes. A Mexican gentleman understands that tequila is all about the texture, aroma, subtlety and flavour.
WHAT IS TEQUILA
Tequila falls under the category of mezcal – a liquor made when you distill agave. However, with over 30 different types of agave there is only one that can be used to make tequila – the blue agave. Much like champagne, in order to be called tequila it must be made from the plants that come from a specific region of Mexico where the blue agave plant grows natively.
The Blue Agave Plant
With a history of over 1000 years, tequila is the ancestor of another early drink – pulque. Made by the early Aztec people, this was a drink similar to beer and was made by fermenting the agave plant. When the Spaniards took over in the 1500’s they utilised some European techniques and began to distill the pulque, creating the earliest form of tequila.
TYPES OF TEQUILA
Also known as silver, white or blanco, this is a clear tequila that has the simplest flavour. Particularly popular for mixing drinks, as it will not overwhelm the flavour of the drink.
Aged in oak for 2-11 months before distribution, this is one of the most popular types of tequila. It’s an amber coloured spirit with a flavour that can be sipped, mixed or enjoyed as a shot.
Also known as tequila gold or ‘Joven’, this is a mixture of Plata and Reposado and it is usually the strongest in both alcohol content and flavour.
Aged for at least a year in small oak barrels giving it a refined and smoky flavour. ‘Extra Añejo’ is aged for between 1 and 3 years, giving it peaty characteristics similar to cognac, making it the most complex flavoured type of tequila.
HOW TO DRINK TEQUILA
When tequila is mentioned only one thing springs to mind – shots. However, tequila wasn’t designed for this type of consumption. Instead, treat it like a sipping rum or whisky. Use a tasting glass or wine glass and take small sips, allowing the flavour to open up to you. You’ll be surprised at how enjoyable and complex it is (if you are drinking the real thing). At the end of this article you’ll find ten cocktail recipes that we think are the best ways to drink your tequila – let us know if you try any.
A WORD ON THE WORM
Don’t fall for it. Many people who claim to know a thing or two about tequila will mention the worm found at the bottom of the bottle. Actually, the worm is associated with mezcal, not tequila, and the concept was a marketing ploy dreamt up in the 40s to make the drink more exciting. So don’t fall into the tourist trap and avoid any worm based products.
A great tequila bar will serve sangrita, the only real ‘chaser’ that Mexicans drink with tequila. It’s a sweet and spicy mixture of citrus juice, hot sauce and sometimes tomato juice. It’s served in a small glass alongside the tequila and cleanses the palette between sips of tequila, highlighting the tequilas peppery and citrusy taste.
“Our Personal Favourite” – Don Julio 1942
TOP TEN TEQUILA COCKTAILS