As Cinco de Mayo approaches, multitudes of partygoers and drinking aficionados look to the sweet nectar of the agave plant to satisfy the urge to revel in the yearly celebration that commemorates the Mexican victory over the French in Puebla leading to the ousting of the French from Mexico. And yet many of these same celebrationistas have little understanding of what Tequila to buy? Which one should be used for margaritas and which one should be slowly sipped? But that’s okay because this post is here to help those in spiritual need.
To be sure, this post does not pretend to be the be all end all on Tequila…for that I would refer you to actual readings and deep dive resource guides on what it takes to make each distinct version of Tequila – The Blanco, The Reposado and The Anejo. But as I have tasted all these varieties under the guise of many various brands, this article is intended to give you a baseline, a roadmap if you will, of how to navigate through the agave sea and come out of it without regretting the night before and with an appreciation for all things Tequila.
Quick basics…Blanco is usually the purest…first pressing of the agave plant, no aging. Reposado…this Tequila has been aged for a minimum of two months but less than one year in oak barrels. The Anejo is aged for a minimum of one year but less than three, again in oak barrels.
Tequila first and foremost has no carbs. Yep…I said it…no carbs! This means that there is no sugar in it. So any true nasty hangover that is experienced the next morning can usually be traced directly back to the fact that you were probably drinking margaritas. Margaritas are mostly sugar…. not Tequila. The way to get around this is to have a “top shelf” margarita. These are commonly made with better Tequila (usually a good Reposado) and they are made with fresh ingredients and a high-end orange liqueur like Grand Marnier, not Triple Sec. Everything else is a mix and it is basically sugared lime water with really cheap Tequila. The better the margarita the more satisfied you will be and there will be little need to have another, and another, and another…that’s how they get ya! But please practice moderation and…. drink lots of water throughout the night as that is also a sure way to prevent regret in the morning.
If you are making margaritas yourself you should mix lime juice with Grand Marnier and a mid-range Tequila such as Patron Blanco or a higher end Reposado like Casamigos or Casa Noble. Each one of these will run you about $45 for a .75 liter bottle. Don’t be intimidated by the variety of options now available as this only shows how much appreciation Tequila has acquired in recent years. Just remember that as in any bar, liquor stores keep the good stuff on the top shelf.
When it comes to enjoying Tequila at a higher level it’s important you also pay close attention to glassware as the better Tequila’s drink much more like a fine scotch that a quick shooter liquor. You can use the shot glass to enjoy mid-range Blanco’s and Reposado’s such as Casa Noble Reposado ($45), Milagro Reserva Blanco ($48) and Cabo Wabo Reposado ($50). There are higher end Reposado’s that are outstanding and should be enjoyed using a scotch/cognac snifter to truly get the vanilla, chocolate and spice flavors out of it…a really good Tequila will have more than a hint of fine vanilla.
For the most adventurous and those who really want to get the best Tequila experience, flights should be on the menu. These collections allow the drinker to partake in the fine nuances that each level offers and allows for a well-rounded experience. For flights this is what I would recommend:
Cinco De Mayo Tequila for the novice consumer –
Cinco De Mayo Tequila for the more advanced consumer –
Cinco De Mayo Tequila for the true connoisseur –
Above all it’s about experiencing the different flavors and smoothness this spirit has to offer…but if you can only afford one Tequila…and you want something special…above all I would recommend Don Diego Santa Reposado…this is the most affordable, best tasting, smoothest Tequila on the market…it is easily worth twice the price it currently commands.
Enjoy the holiday and enjoy some great agave spirits!
By: Kayce Baker