Tequila: the Mexican agave liquor that you can learn to appreciate


Do you love or avoid the Mexican agave liquor, tequila? A few tequila tips can everyone rediscovering agave tequila.

Tequila can cause a heated debate. Some people love the agave liquor while others think this Mexican spirit should be banished from the liquor cabinet. But, the Mexican agave spirit should be rediscovered, just the right way.

Some of us have been there. In a moment of weakness, a tequila shot at the end of a long evening sounded like a really smart idea. But, that choice later became a headache induced poor decision. Unfortunately, that one experience ruins many people on tequila. The Mexican agave spirit can be a nuanced, delicious drink.

July 24 is National Tequila Day. While tequila enthusiasts will proudly raise a glass with a loud salud, some people may want this food holiday to pass quickly. With a few tequila tips, tequila might find its way back to your heart.

Recently, FoodSided had the opportunity to learn some interesting tequila facts from Graciela Gonzalez. The fourth generation tequila ambassador for El Mayor and Exotico Tequila  has a passion for the Mexican agave spirit. With her insight, even the most unlikely tequila drinker could find an appreciation for the agave.

Graciela Gonzalez, fourth generation tequila ambassador, photo provided by Common Ground PR

These tips are based on what we learned from Ms. Gonzalez’s information.

First, drinking 100 percent agave tequila very important. Like any liquor or spirit, a high quality beverage tastes better. Not all tequilas are equal. Finding a better, quality tequila can add to the drinking enjoyment.

Tequila comes in several different varieties. Tequila can be blanco, reposado, anejo and extra anejo. The distinction is based on the aging process. Blanco is the least aged while the extra anejo is the longest aged. The aging brings flavor to the tequila.

Second, try tequila on its own. Drinking tequila neat, not a shot, can be quite enjoyable. Like other aged liquors or spirits, tequila neat is lovely way to discover the tequila’s flavor. If you prefer a chilled drink, one large ice cube is an option. Aged tequila, like an anejo or extra anejo are best enjoyed neat.

Tequila: the Mexican agave spirit, El Mayor Tequila and Exotico Tequila, photo provided by Common Ground PR

Third, think about food pairings when drinking tequila. Just like pairing wine with food, tequila can enhance food flavors. Ceviche, fish tacos and lighter bites are delightful with a blanco tequila. Heavier, more robust foods like steak or mole sauces are better served with a bolder anejo tequila. For dessert, like a spicy Mexican dark chocolate cake, extra anejo served neat completes the after dinner pairing.

Fourth, margaritas taste better with fresh ingredients. Of course, some bottled mixes are good and they are easy to use. But, fresh ingredients do taste better. Fresh limes and lime juice can make a huge difference. A margarita is lime, simple syrup and tequila. Blanco tequila works best for margaritas. Mix up a fresh one and taste the difference.

Fifth, tequila can be used in other classic cocktails. True, Manhattans are generally made with bourbon or whiskey, but you could make a tequila version. Mix a Reposado tequila with vermouth, bitters and garnish with a cherry.

Lastly, try a traditional Mexican tequila pairing, the sangrita. A sangrita is a non-alcoholic drink that often is served with a shot of tequila. Generally, a sangrita contains orange juice, lime juice, grenadine and hot sauce. The idea is to take a sip of blanco tequila then a sip of sangrita. The alternating sips complement the citrus and pepper flavors of both drinks.

Now that you know a little more about tequila, it is time to shake up some cocktails. In honor of National Tequila Day, here are two of our current favorite tequila cocktails. Salud!

"Mayan Mule by Jaime Salas, National Milagro AmbassadorIngredients2 Parts Milagro Reposado½ Part Fresh Lime Juice2 Dashes Angostura Bitters3 Parts Ginger BeerMint sprigsLime wheelPreparation: Place 2-3 ice cubes in a Collins glass. Add fresh squeezed lime juice, Milagro Reposado, ginger beer and bitters. Garnish with mint sprigs and a lime wheel."

"Del Campo by Jaime Salas, National Milagro AmbassadorIngredients1 ½ Parts Milagro Silver (bacon fat washed)½ Part Lime Juice¾ Part Celery Juice½ Part Nopal (optional)1 Part Pineapple Juice½ Part Cilantro or ParsleyChicharron Salt GarnishPreparation: With a half lime, rinse around the rim of a rocks glass and salt with Chicharron salt. Separately, combine all ingredients and shake well. Strain mix over fresh ice into the Chicharron salted rocks glass. Glass: Rocks“This cocktail was inspired by the Mexican “green” juice served during a typical breakfast in Mexico. It’s refreshing vegetal and tropical notes along with the savory notes of the chicharron awaken the senses.” – Jaime Salas"

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