By Patricia Canole
Tequila means different things to different people. Whether you prefer your tequila as shots with a lime or in a Margarita, it’s a spirit that’s easily enjoyed in many situations.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Originally used during rituals some 2,000 years ago, tequila has evolved into the robust spirit we drink today and in recent years has transcended a quality we could not imagine a few decades ago. The town of Tequila was founded in 1656, and shortly afterward tequila was “born.” However, it wasn’t until the 1800s when the first imports to the U.S. began.
WHAT IS TEQUILA?
Tequila is produced by fermenting and distilling the juice of the blue agave plant (which takes between 8 and 11 years to mature). The spirit must be made in one of five specific regions: the most widely known is the state of Jalisco, where the town of Tequila is located. It’s where nearly 90 percent of tequilas come from according to precise standards regulated by the Mexican government.
TYPES OF TEQUILA?
Quality tequila is made from 100 percent agave. Anything less is considered a mixta—a mix of agave and sugar (it must be at least 51 percent agave to be called tequila). The high-end spirit might be high-priced, but you really will be able to taste the difference. Seriously.
Unaged, the colorless tequila that has a sharp taste and the pure flavor of the blue agave plant.
Tequila that’s been aged in oak barrel for at least two months and as long as a year (reposado means rested). It has a caramel hue and a smoother finish than blanco. Depending on the reposado, you may taste notes of pepper, spice, citrus, honey, or herbs.
This type of tequila has been aged in oak for longer than a year and as many as ten. It’s characterized by a dark amber color, extreme smoothness, and a taste that combines smokiness with the sweetness of vanilla.
ALL ABOUT MEZCAL
Mezcal is a Mexican spirit that tastes quite similar to tequila but doesn’t qualify as pure tequila. Much of the best mescal is made in the state of Oaxaca, using multiple varieties of agave. Top-quality Mezcals have gained a new appreciation and a dedicated following.
• Tequila comes with a worm: Tequila never contains a worm at the bottom, although bottles of mescal often have a worm (actually a larva). It’s said it enhances the flavor!
• “Silver” and “Gold” tequilas are superior Although some brands slap these labels on their bottles to justify higher prices, silver tequila is merely another name for blanco, and gold tequila is blanco that has a dollop of reposado added to it.
• You need salt and lime You shouldn’t drink reposado or anejo tequila that way. However, since blanco tequila has more bite, the salt and lime (or lemon) will help you enjoy the flavors. Regardless, tequila should be sipped—not shot.
1 ½ parts Hornitos® Reposado Tequila
1 ½ parts agave syrup
3 parts lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake well. Strain into a margarita glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve. Salt rim optional.
1 ½ parts Hornitos® Black Barrel Tequila
1 part simple syrup
½ part Amaro liqueur
2 dashes bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
Combine simple syrup, Hornitos® Black Barrel Tequila, Amaro, and bitters. Add ice and stir. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with an orange peel.
1 part Hornitos® Plata Tequila
2 parts fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
1 part simple syrup
2 parts club soda
Build in order over ice in a tall glass, stirring once before adding soda and once after. Garnish with a lime or grapefruit wedge. Optional: rosemary sprig.
1 ½ parts Hornitos® Anejo Tequila
½ part sweet vermouth
1 tsp. maraschino cherry juice
Combine all ingredients over ice. Stir. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.