Everything you need to know about tequila (and the best ways to enjoy it)
World Best Bar
May 09, 2020
10 January 2019
That being said, many of us don’t know how to truly appreciate the tequila. Many don’t know how to sip, savour and appreciate the complex distillery process. They don’t know how to process the aromatics and depth of flavour. Here are the best ways to enjoy tequila!
A Brief History
Many people are drinking nail polish remover grade tequila, which is often why it gets a bad rap. It’s good to know the history and production process of the drink to have a better appreciation for this proud staple of Mexican culture.
The spirit we now know as tequila is over 200 years old, but similar spirits have been around for a lot longer. A similar concoction was first produced in the sixteenth century near the location of what is now modern-day Tequila in Mexico. Over the years, producers have perfected the distillery process and have turned it into an art.
Production & Misconceptions
All tequila is made from the agave plant. Agave is a succulent plant with razor-edged leaves. It can grow up to 12 feet tall and matures for harvest at around six to eight years. The heart of the agave, known as the piña due to its a resemblance of the pineapple, is used because it contains the best sugars. There are over 200 varieties of agave found in Central America, but tequila is only made from one: weber blue agave (WBA).
The two main types of tequila are first split into two categories: 100 percent blue agave and tequila mixto (mixed). The first tequila to arrive in Europe was the mixto variety. It’s still fairly common to receive low-quality mixto tequila when ordering a cocktail or shot from your local bar. That’s not to say that there aren’t benefits to mixto; it simply isn’t as pure and thus lacks the same flavour as WBA varieties. Additionally, the additives often used for colour often result in a particularly painful hangover. Let’s stick to the 100 percent WBA.
There are also names to describe tequila based on how long it has aged. Blanco is aged for less than two months, reposado for two to 11 months, añejo for one to five years and extra añejo, which is aged for a minimum of three years. So, based on what you want, think of whattype of tequila is best for your palate. If you want something with a woody flavour, look for colour in reposado tequilas, which are aged in oak barrels. When the aging process is longer, the agave notes are subdued, and the woody profile picks up. However, it’s important to note that any batch aged for more than four years often loses its lustre due to evaporation in the barrel.
Tequila should be treated with the same respect as whiskey. Sniff it gently and let it the aromas open up for you. If you utilise a tasting or wine glass, all the better! Sample various styles and ages, and you will start to taste the difference. If you are not interested in drinking tequila straight, opt for a cocktail.
Okay, so you have shots, margaritas and the famous Tequila Sunrise. There are tons of other tequila drinks which are worth a try, such as the Paloma (2 parts tequila blanco, 1 part agave nectar, 2 parts pink grapefruit juice and a splash of soda water), Tequila Sour (1 1⁄2 oz. tequila, 3⁄4 oz. fresh lemon juice and 1⁄2 oz. simple syrup) or a Tequila Sunset (1 oz. tequila, 4 oz. orange juice, 1⁄2 oz. blackberry brandy and 1 cherry). But why not switch it up and get creative? Get wild with a Magui Cactus (5 mint leaves, 1 oz. lime juice, 1 oz. xtabentún, 1 oz. simple syrup, 1.5 oz tequila and 2 oz. cactus puree) or a 21st century (2 oz. tequila, 3/4 oz. crème de cacao, 3/4 oz. lemon juice and 1 spoonful of agave). Ditch the shots and opt for one of these!
We all know about pairing wine and cheese, but how about pairing tequila with something special? Think of incorporating it with other Mexican gems like slow-cooked beef, chorizo, guacamole, grilled fish with lime, enchiladas and ceviche. Allow the flavours of the food to mingle and enhance the tequila and vice versa. Look into restaurants that are known for their delicious Mexican food and solidly stocked with top shelf bottles.
A Quick Refresher
Buy 100 percent agave tequila, try it in fancy cocktails, take a moment to embrace the layered flavours and try pairing it with some amazing Mexican treats! Even if you’ve had some bad experiences with tequila, if you stick to these tips, you’ll be appreciating tequila in no time.