I spent the Fourth of July weekend in Baja Mexico. So patriotic, I know. But what am I going to do with a rare three day weekend? Colonial Williamsburg? I’m, like, 10 minutes from the border. And my few dollars equal several dollars down there. It was a gorgeous trip full of $1 street tacos, smirks at my butchered Spanish, and what is now a firm, established muffin top. I ate everything. And I drank a lot of tequila. I love tequila. Its hands-down my liquor of choice. When I’ve been tasting wines all day at those big, fancy sommelier gatherings, going to the DMV, or taking my toddler to the dentist, all I want is a shot of tequila. Maybe two. And, like, 4 tamales. Yes, I’m Gluttenous McFatty-pants. I didn’t end up in this line of work by accident.
People still hate on tequila. The most common complaints I hear are usually actually just thinly veiled trips down memory lane, people regaling me with stories of body shots at a fraternity party or throwing up at the Margaritaville in Myrtle Beach. And I get it. My all-time worst drunken experience was born from too many tequila sunrises in my early 20s. Let’s just say I was never asked to housesit there again.
But this is a new era for tequila. It currently ranks as one of the fastest growing spirits. And with China guzzling all the Scotch and Cognac, it has left a nice little pocket for premium (read: expensive) tequilas. Even celebs are scrambling to get on this tequila boat. (I would sign up for that cruise immediately.) Justin Timberlake has one. Ray Liotta’s new baby smooth face is a spokesman for one. George Clooney and Mr. Cindy Crawford even have their own tequila, Casamigos.
Apparently its what they all drink in their Mexican vacation compound. Yes. Cindy Crawford, her stupid husband, George Clooney and that hot human rights lawyer all share a compound in Cabo. What if the Tequila Boat™ cruise ENDED at the compound and you got to drink tequila with them and watch old reruns of House of Style and E.R. and wear high waisted one piece neon color swimsuits?
Sorry. 90’s seizure.
The thing is, if you haven’t had tequila since college or in a frozen margarita from a slushie machine, you probably live in some bunker. Or you’re, like, in a cult. Or maybe you’re in recovery. I don’t know. But, I think grown ups should revisit tequila. No worm, unless you’re breaking it down.
Much like Champagne, all tequila only hails from one particular region in Mexico: specifically Jalisico and some surrounding counties. Its soil is perfect for growing those Koopa-looking blue agave plants. The plants take up to 12 years to fully mature, just like English Bulldogs. Then the heart of the plant is roasted and crushed, with its juice pressed kinda like wine. That is what will go on to be distilled, typically twice. Its like a big, scary Mexican artichoke… you know, if artichoke dip gave you the courage to teach others how to Dougie.
And, again, much like my high-maintenance mistress Wine, what happens to the distilled spirit after is equally important. That first distilled spirit is blanco, or “white”. This will show the true essence of the agave’s flavors. This is what you want in a margarita. Clean and clear, letting the other components of the drink equally shine. Ugh. I hate myself so much for just typing that.
Tequila can then go on to be aged in oak barrels, usually bourbon barrels. Anywhere from two months to a year you get reposado, or rested in Spanish. This one’s my jam. It can be used in a high end cocktail or sips well on its own. I think its pairs really well with food, too. Especially my new favorite meal: 14 street tacos. Añejo, or “aged”, is in barrel anywhere from 1-3 years. This one pours a deep amber color and drinks more like a whiskey. Its not my favorite. It leans toward that peaty Scotch thing that makes me think of Republicans. Its also very expensive and men don’t buy drinks for women in their 30s nearly as much as Sex and the City lead me to believe.
So shots. Sipper. Margaritas. Get it. Pair with tacos, ceviche, or just drink it all night and prepare yourself for some questionable decisions. Its all so grown up. And if you’re like me and you don’t want to leave your house, here is an amazing reposado cocktail recipe to utilize all those cans of Squirt you have in the house. Man, you really ARE like me…