Tequila. A celebrated Mexican distilled spirit enjoyed worldwide by many. Tequila’s earliest form, called “pulque,” came into existence several millennia ago. The legendary Aztec Indians used the technique of fermenting sap from the agave plant to create pulque from about 1000 B.C. to 200 A.D. The earliest pictograms on stone walls depicting pulque showed up around 200 A.D. The magical, intoxicating result of drinking the nasty, milky stuff was not lost on the spellbound, spiritual Aztec civilization. Pulque was a cultural core. The Aztecs even worshipped Gods known for their affiliations with drinking.
Eventually, the Spanish conquest of the Aztec civilization from 1519-1521 was the catalyst for the creation of the distillation process of the agave plant, making then what is more like today’s mescal. The 1600s saw the building of the first distillery in what is now Tequila, Jalisco. In 1758, the Cuervo family began distilling tequila, as did the Sauza family by 1873. However, the Souza family managed to shift things in the world of tequila distilling after discovering that the use of blue agave was the best for producing. This changed the course for things to come, creating the distinct taste profiles tequila drinkers know today. Cuervo and Souza are still well-known in today’s tequila market, and Jalisco is home to some of the most extensive distillery operations worldwide.
1. Blanco tequila, or “silver,” does not age in oak barrels, not commonly. Therefore, the blue agave’s purest, refined characteristics in this clear tequila are coruscant and vigorous, and behind the strong, bright impact are signature herbal and mineral notes. Blanco is perfect for margaritas and paloma cocktails. And, of course—they make an easy go-to shot option.
2. Joven tequila features a combination of both Blanco and aged tequila. It has a creamy vanilla and spice appeal despite its clear, Blanco- like appearance. This tequila is less common and has many imitators. “Gold” tequila, sometimes branded as a Joven, is a vastly different thing. Joven consists of 100% blue agave.
3. Reposado tequila is typically aged in steel or oak American whiskey barrels for a couple of months to a year. The result is a smooth, sweet, complex taste with hints of spice and wood flavors. This amber-hued tequila makes a perfect sipper but is most successful for cocktails and shots.
4. Añejo tequila is quite distinctive in its flavor profiles. It is aged for one to three years, allowing it to soak in the flavors of the wood. The result is a smooth, oaky tequila with sweetness and notes of honey, vanilla, and spices. Añejo is somewhat similar in flavor to whiskey. This is another amber-hued tequila apt for sipping, but it can be used for cocktails and shots.
5. Extra añejo tequila is rarer. . It is a rich, smooth, complex flavor experience, featuring a seasoned oak flavor and underlying expressions of spices and notes like caramel, tobacco, dark chocolate, and fruit flavors. It’s a qualified sipper. Intended only for serious aficionados.
Note: there is one more tequila vying for a category called “Cristalino.” It is a barrel-aged tequila modeled after extra añejo extra añejo. In the distilling process, it is filtered through charcoal. This extra step allows it to retain the complex flavors of añejo tequila but is clear in appearance, like Blanco. Cristalino is rich and oaky, with caramel and vanilla notes.
1. Neat/on rocks. One of the best ways to adequately explore aged tequila’s purest expressions is to have it served neat or on the rocks (with a bit of ice or ice block).
2. Cocktails. There are many excellent, well-known tequila-based cocktails to enjoy, such as the margarita, Paloma, tequila sunrise, bloody maria, tequila sour, ranch water, Mexican mule, and many more.
3. Shots! A most popular activity for groups. A shot is simply taking one to the face.
How to order a shot
1. Served “neat” or with a salted rim (the rim of a shot glass) and lime wedge.
2. Chilled with ice and then strained. This shot goes best with the salted rim and lime wedge.
3. Fancy tequila shot-taking exists. After a shot of the stuff, some people lick salt off their hands and suck a lime as a “chaser.” Others order cinnamon and an orange slice. They lick the cinnamon, take the tequila shot, and then bite the orange.
The most popular tequila cocktail of American choice is the margarita. There are many choices and preferences to keep in mind when ordering a margarita.
1. Blanco, reposado, añejo are the most common types of tequila
choices for margaritas. Reposado is a good choice.
2. Ordering a top-shelf tequila typically garners the best results. Bars and restaurants usually automatically use a “well” Blanco tequila in their margaritas.
3. A “skinny” margarita uses no simple syrup or sweeteners. Sometimes they use fresh orange juice in place of the triple sec. A “Cadillac” margarita, which typically means it has about an ounce float of Grand Marnier, an orange-flavored liqueur.
4. A margarita can be ordered with a thoroughly salted or half salted rim and a lime wedge.
5. This Drink can be shaken, on the rocks, frozen, or blended.
6. Sometimes ordered with muddled fruit, such as strawberry or blueberry. Often ordered spicy with muddled jalapeno.