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Bite the Blue Agave
Ay, Tequila. No doubt you’ve got a story about it. What’s that you say? It involves three quick shots at a party and some underwear on your head? Ah, but see, that is not the true nature of Tequila. What we speak of is a nuanced, elegant affair with a mystical history that requires careful craft to produce and can be aged to perfection. Blanco, reposado, añejo… what does it all mean? Pull up a stool, amigo. Because when it comes to Tequila, we’ve got quite a different story to tell.
Let’s take a trip back in time to 200 A.D., where we find the Aztecs throwing a hell of a rager. Turns out, this ancient civilization was making some serious party juice they called “pulque” from the sap of the agave plant. Fast forward to the 1400s, and we find parched Spaniards in Mexico looking for spiritual relief in the distillation of agave, which many consider to be a primitive version of Mezcal. However, it wasn’t until 1758 that the Cuervo family began commercially distilling the modern-day Tequila we know and love.
Much like Bourbon, Tequila has its own very set of rules that it has to play by in order to earn its name. Namely, the juice must be produced in the state of Jalisco and clock in at 51% (or more) blue agave. Anything less than that, and you’re dealing with a Mezcal. (No disrespect to Mezcal, of course. But facts are facts, amigos.)
Are you rummaging around for a shot glass? Well, stop right there. Tequila’s come a long way from the crappy gut rot that demanded a quick toss down the gullet. There’s a craft behind it, and it’s about high time we recognized that with slow, savoring sips. If you’re looking for something a bit spicy, an unaged blanco or silver tequila retains the zesty taste of the blue agave plant. Looking for a richer, oakier flavor? A reposado (aged for 2 to 12 months in oak barrels) or an añejo (aged for one to four years in oak barrels) should fit the bill.
Before you, we’ve got a special blanco that’s not really a blanco but more of a pink-o, a reposado and an añejo for your sipping pleasure. Ready to taste? ¡Arriba! ¡Abajo! ¡Al centro! y pa'dentro!
1) Yeah, plant-based diets are all the rage now. Good news: Tequila is plant-based. Indeed, Tequila is made from blue agave, a plant native to Mexico. Drink up!
2) The heart of the blue agave is what’s used to make Tequila. Also known as the “piña,” this piece can weigh anywhere between 80 to 200 pounds. Unfortunately, there’s now a shortage in Mexico because the production of Tequila exceeded the planned cultivation.
3) While it’s true that physicists at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico figured out how to turn Tequila into artificial diamonds, the results were too small for jewelry purposes.
4) Remember downing a Tequila worm with your college mates back in the day? Turns out, it might not have been Tequila at all. The worms were placed in the bottom of Mezcal bottles as a marketing ploy.
5) Tequila: it’ll cure what ails you. At least that’s what doctors in Mexico told their patients during a flu epidemic in 1918. They swore by a combo of Tequila, lime and salt as an effective remedy.
6) Instead of the typical Margarita, do as the distillers in Jalisco and follow up your Tequila with a “sangrita” (little blood) chaser made from tomato, orange juice and chili powder. It’s the breakfast of champions.
7) Speaking of margaritas, according the Guinness World Records, the largest glass of margarita was created by Margaritaville in 2011 to commemorate the opening of their Las Vegas location. The libation clocked in at a whopping 8,500 gallons and used 2,282.18 gallons of Tequila.
8) In one rare case, Tequila was used to fuel a car. Jay Leno owns a 1964 Chrysler with a turbine engine that can run on anything flammable—including Tequila. Just hold the salt.