Oh yes, Tequila, our little friend from south of the border.
Tequila has built itself quite a reputation over the years as one of the most popular celebratory spirits. It would be a short list of who hasn’t, at least once, toasted some extraordinary occasion with a shot or two of tequila?
Of late, however, tequila has seen huge popularity growth both here in the states and abroad. But not so much the run-of-the-mill well brands we all know and love, but more the high end ‘sippin varieties, many with some celebrity endorsement of one kind or another.
Surfing’s filmmaker to the stars Taylor Steele even has a brand!
But before we go further a quick tutorial on what’s what.
The line in the sand, so to speak, is really what are you doing with it. Many of today’s super high-end stuff is appropriately called sipping tequila. High-end tequilas are usually served “neat,” which means no ice, chilled in a shaker, or on the “rocks.” You don’t shoot it, you don’t mix it in a cocktail, you savor it slowly. And you should as it ain’t cheap.
But if it’s a few shots with the crew or a pitcher of margaritas, the lower price point stuff will do just fine.
Basically, there are two types of tequila: “Mixto” blend and actual 100% blue agave tequila. Mixto is what most of us have been poured at a typical Mexican restaurant when ordering a margarita or a shot. Mixto is simply any tequila that is made from less than 100% blue agave. The famous Jose Cuervo Especial brand, for instance, is a mixto tequila. Don’t be shy about drinking a mixto blend as there are some excellent, great-tasting tequilas like El Teqileño and San Matias Reposado, to name a few.
There are also two very different ways to make tequila which is primarily what is separating the good from the great among tequila snobs these days. There is the more natural method that uses a tahona stone to crush the agave plant of which the juice is then aged in wooden casks, or the more modernized version with a diffuser, stainless steel aging vessels, and other more efficient large scale production methods. If you really want to try something special, seek out a tequila that uses the old-school methods.
Here are a few recommendations:
Tres Generations and Don Julio’s Blanco are very well-known quality tequilas. We’ll also give Taylor’s brand Solento a nod as well with their small batch organic blue agave.
Moving up in quality and price, Casa Noble is an excellent choice. El Tesoro, with its cognac casks aging, is another very fine tequila. Rounding out the list is Herradura’s Double Barrel Reposado or their Seleccion Suprema, which is aged for 49 months in white oak barrels if you really want to step up the game a bit.
You can keep climbing the ladder price-wise but spending a week’s wages on cocktails is a little rich for us.
To summarize, if you want to impress ask the bartender to reach up top. If you want a quick shot or a marg, don’t waste your cash on the fancy stuff.
Of course, always drink responsibly and never operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery after drinking alcoholic beverages.