Tequila has a public relations problem. One friend we talked to about this episode said “ugh, tequila—either shoot it or shoot me.” Tequila cocktails aren’t as well known outside of the Margarita (and even that, with a pre-made sour mix, can be awful) and as a component of the Long Island Iced Tea (which is on the Speaking Easy Podcast’s Ten Things Alex Just Won’t Do – Cocktail Edition. That, or a shot you take with a bunch of accoutrement (lime and salt).
But tequila is actually not what most of us here in the United States know it to be. Refined over centuries, tequila is the product of the Jalisco state of Mexico. It’s made from blue agave, and is often aged (we talk about the types below). Its cousin, Mezcal, is a particular favorite of Jordan and Alex’s (we did an episode on it), with a smoky character not as often featured in tequila. But high-quality tequilas aren’t out of reach—you just might have to search a little harder.
In this episode you’ll hear about:
- What tequila is
- How to drink tequila in a cocktail (versus a shot)
- A tequila cocktail better (in Alex’s eyes) than a Margarita
- Pairing tequila with infusion flavors
Kinds of Tequila:
- Blanco (sometimes called silver): Typically unaged or aged for less than 2 months, this is the neutral spirit.
- Suggested bottles: El Tesoro de Don Felipe Platinum ($38) Robust, earthy aroma. Spice, and lime on the finish. Versatile in cocktails; Siembra Azul Blanco ($33) AGAVE! With pepper and floral notes; and, Milargo Silver ($28) Delicate, floral sweetness with touch of salt.
- Joven (in the U.S., typically referred to as “gold”): For this category, there’s usually an additive (coloring or flavoring) to an unaged silver tequila. Gross. You can also blend an actual aged tequila with unaged, but that’s essentially just stretching out the aged product for a lesser effect. A troubling category.
- Reposado (meaning “rested”): Aged at least 2 months but less than a year, in oak. Here’s where you really start to see some character in the glass.
- Suggested Bottles: Maestro Dobel Reposado ($42) Rounded, sweet agave with baking spices, nuttiness; El Diamante del Cielo ($42) Smooth, with fruity nose, honey and pepper notes; Sauza Hornitos Reposado ($28) Soft, rounded flavor with fruity aroma.
- Añejo (meaning “aged”: Aged for between 1 year and 3 years, a small oak barrel is typically used.
- FOR SIPPING: Siete Leguas Anejo ($54) Light, sweet agave with subtle spice and fleeting nuttiness, warm oaky finish; and Herradura Anejo ($48) Great pick for a bourbon drinker! Oaky with caramel and vanilla, and earthy agave.
- Extra Añejo (meaning “extra aged”): The newest category, it’s just aged 3 or more years.
Tequila (the song):
The famous version by The Champs
A super cool version by Wes Montgomery