What’s the Best Way to Drink a Tequila?

Tequila (pronounced te-kila) is a spirit distilled from the blue agave plant, mainly surrounded the area of Tequila City, hence the national drink of Mexico. Tequila first comes in two basic categories: mixtos

(mixed) and 100% agave. The difference is that mixtos use no more than 51% of agave and add some fructose and glucose sugar, whereas 100% agave is pure agave, obviously.

Tequila bottled in five varieties, there are

– Blanco, meaning “white” and unaged;

– Reposado, meaning “rested” and aged between 2-12 months in oak barrels;

– Joven (“young”) or oro (“gold”): unaged silver tequila that may be flavored with caramel coloring, oak extract, glycerin, or sugar-based syrup. Could also be the result of blending silver tequila with aged and/or extra-aged tequila.
Añejo, meaning “vintage” and aged between 1-3 years in small oak barrels.

– Extra Añejo (“extra aged” or “ultra aged”): aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels

Although tequila has worn the reputation of party drink for some time, there are many ways to drink it without making your head feel like a piñata the morning after. Here are just a few.

1) Sip it!
If you are the true believer of the Mexican way, try sipping it. Choose the 100% agave (it might get tricky, some bottle are labeled “made with blue agave” or “made from blue agave” and they actually means mixtos, but the real 100% agave is labeled just as it is) in a tequila glass.

2) Trying Añejo
100% agave Añejo is drank a little bit differently. They make for better sipping than a tequila that is rushed to maturity, because añejo tequilas are aged for at least a year. For a serious sipping, grab a tequila glass or a snifter and drink añejos at room temperature. Beware, adding ice to it dilutes the flavor and can mask the tequila’s different components.

3) Sangrita for companion
Sangrita, which literally means “little blood”, is a non-alchoholic customary partner to a shot of straight tequila blanco. Its ingredients is vary; in Mexico City itself, it’s a mixture of tomato juice, fresh lime juice, orange juice, specially seasoned with  a combination of Jugo Maggi, Salsa Valentina, Worcestershire and Tabasco(original) sauce to accentuate tequila’s crisp acidity and peppery taste. To drink it, pair the sangrita with your sipping tequila in a separate shot glass and take turns sipping the tequila and sangrita.

4) Single Shot
Choose a blanco, oro, or reposado tequila to shoot. Don’t forget to make sure that it is the 100% agave one, because the mixtos will give you severe headache in the morning. Serve it in room-temperature, pour it into a shot glass, toast, and pour it down your gullet in a single shot. This is the way the Mexican do it.
5) The Tequila Cruda
Sometimes referred as “the training wheels” or “lick-sip-suck” or “lick-shoot-suck”— depending of the phase in drinking, this is how most American drink tequila. Here’s how:

– Lick the skin between your thumb and index finger. Shake a little bit of salt on your skin, which should stick to the moisture.
– With a tequila shot and lime wedge in hand, lick the salt on your hand and shoot the tequila. Try to get the tequila down in one gulp if you can. You are shooting it, after all.
– As a “chaser,” suck on the lime wedge after shooting the tequila. The acidity of the lime won’t taste as sharp after the alcohol.

6) The Mexican Flag
Another popular drinking way in Mexico is the bandera (flag, in Spanish). This combination gets its name because the three shots each represent one color of the Mexican flag — red, white, and green. It consists of three shot glasses, filled with lime juice (for the green), white tequila, and sangrita (for the red).

7) The Prairie Fire
Another way to take a tequila shot involves putting a dash of tabasco sauce into the tequila shot. This sinus-clearing shot make you feel a fiery sense in your spine, hence the ‘fire’. It popular among the youngster in America.

8) The Classic Margarita
There’s two kinds of margarita: frozen and classic. If you really want to savor the flavor of the tequila, go for a classic margarita, as the frozen margaritas are laden with sugar and water. To make a great margarita, follow this recipe:

  • Pour the following ingredients into a cocktail shaker half-full with ice:
    • 2 oz. blanco, oro, or reposado tequila
    • 1/2 oz. orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple-Sec
    • 1 oz. freshly-squeezed lime juice
    • 1/2 oz. agave nectar sweetener
  • Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds and strain into cocktail glass with a salted rim.

9) The Tequini
The tequini is simply a combination of tequila and martini. A tequini takes all the sophistication and class of a martini and squeezes a little bit of fun into the mix. Imbiber beware, however, because this brother is boozy! If you want a sweeter tequini, use a reposado tequila and sweet vermouth.

  • Into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, mix:
    • 2 1/2 oz blanco tequila
    • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
    • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds and strain into a martini glass.
  • Garnish with an olive, lemon twist, or jalapeno pepper.

10) Vampira!
This is also sometimes called a “Bloody Maria.” The vampira cocktail is a Mexican twist on the classic bloody Mary recipe. It’s light and spicy, and manages to be original without betraying the essence of the prototype.

  • Fill a 10-ounce glass with ice. Into the glass, pour:
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 1/2 oz. blanco tequila
    • 1 teaspoon Mexican hot sauce, e.g. Cholula
    • 1 oz. Clamato
    • 1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Top up the drink with Mexican Squirt or another grapefruit soda, and garnish with a lemon wheel.

Empinar, chicos!

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