Think tequila, and many think of spring break and tequila shots, followed by who knows what? But precursors of this quintessentially Mexican drink considered a gift from the gods. A good tequila is worth sipping it to discover its flavors rather than downing shots all night long.
Tequila has to do with its real roots, with the land it comes from and the lifestyle surrounding it. Drinking tequila is about ending a hard day of labor — working under the sun with the cattle you raise, or farming Mexico’s fertile fields, or taking care of the beautiful hacienda that has belonged to your family for generations, and kicking back, relaxing with the soft wood flavors of a good reposado.
Taking this in mind, there’s a great amount of respect for this legendary spirit that pre-Hispanic natives made from the tequilana weber blue agave. After growing it for more than ten years, the jimador cuts the leaves off the plant to expose what’s known as the piña or pineapple. This is then roasted to make the starch in it turn into fermentable sugars, then pressed and the juice is set to ferment.
It doesn’t end here. The fermented juice is then distilled and set in barrels to repose and refine those lovely flavors of a good tequila. Depending on the time it’s kept here, it becomes a silver, reposado or añejo. Tequila can only receive this name if it’s constituted of 51 percent blue agave grown in specific areas of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Nayarit, Michoacan and Tamaulipas.
Here are my top five tequila drinks.
Bloody Maria. This drink emulates the classic bloody Mary but, instead of adding the classic vodka, we make it with some tequila to give it that Mexican punch.
Tequila Sunrise. This is an international classic and full of color. It combines tequila and orange juice with a splash of grenadine syrup to create those fantastic colors that give the drink its name.
Bandera. Like its name in Spanish, it represents the green, white and red Mexican flag. This is served in three shot glasses — one of tequila, one with sangrita and another of lime juice. Sangrita is a spicy chaser of orange, lime and tomato jiuce with chile. You just sip and enjoy these slowly.
Paloma. This is a Mexican classic and is simple to make. In a tall glass, serve 1.5 ounces of tequila with ice and fill the glass with grapefruit juice. Add a touch of lime juice and sea salt to taste. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Margarita. This is a favorite in Mexico and the world. It mixes tequila, Contreau (orange liqueur), lime juice, and clear syrup. Other margarita recipes add shaved ice and fresh fruit, from mangos to strawberries to tamarind. No matter your favorite recipe for margaritas, this is a great way to cool off on a hot day.