Hold up! Put down the salt and lime. It’s time to take things to the next level. Tequila wasn’t always the party drink favored by women everywhere, nor was it the sexy lick-salt-off-your-belly prelude to sexy time as seen in movies. It wasn’t always chased by a lemon or drank in one shot. In fact, back in ye ol’ Mexico, tequila is a man’s drink and slowly sipped rather than shot down. Time to learn the basics of this wonderful complex drink.
Of course for sipping tequila you want to find the good stuff. This means that it’s made out of 100% blue agave. The stuff that you shoot down in bars is usually blended with other alternatives. Your average bar serves mostly cheaper, blended tequila, which gives tequila its usual pungent, strong taste.
Right, so what is agave?
Agave tequilana is what tequila is made out of. It also known as blue agave – a spiky-leafed plant that, despite what most people think, is unrelated to the cactus.
It takes an agave plant around 8 years to mature after which the heart of the plant is removed and slow roasted to begin the process of producing tequila.
Just like fine wine, tequila needs to be aged too – the darker the tequila, the longer it has been aged. For margaritas or other cocktails made with tequilas, you want to use blancos because these are the ones that have not been aged. They’re white because they haven’t come in contact with the wood inside a barrel. They’re also cheaper thus it won’t pinch as much when you dilute its taste with sugar and juice. Añejo is the type of tequila you want for sipping. It’s been aged for at least a year and would have pulled different flavors like chocolate, cinnamon and caramel from the wood.
Salt and Limes?
Uhm, no. This is a rookie move referred to as “training wheels” and you don’t want to be the rookie, do you? Real tequila is sipped – slowly – by itself, or it can also be sipped along with sangrita – a sweet, sour and spicy drink made of chilies, orange juice and tomato juice. Two equal sized pours of sangrita and tequila are sipped alternatively.
So go now and get your tequila on, like a man.