Food & Drink

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Tequila

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Tequila has a distinct reputation as a party liquor, but high-end tequila companies are seeking to change that mindset. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the sale of premium tequila has risen 500 percent since 2002, with sales in 2013 soaring over $2 billion. These infographics from Fix have more info.

Growth of Tequlia Consumption
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There’s also a rich history behind the making of the liquor. The Spanish began making it in the 16th century, but tequila’s ancestor, pulque, was being consumed as early as 1400 B.C.

Tequila is technically a kind of mezcal (a different type of alcoholic beverage that you often see a worm in), and both are made from the agave plant. Specifically, tequila is made from the blue weber variety of the plant.

Agave Plant
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The specific taste of the drink largely depends on where it’s grown. For instance, tequila made from blue weber agave plants grown in higher altitudes (Don Julio, El Tesoro) have a floral and sweeter taste. Tequila make with lowland agaves (Partida, Casa Noble) have an earthier taste.

So, how is it made? Farmers called “Jimadores” remove the “piña,” which is taken from the center of the agave plant. The piñas are split open and then cooked in pressure cookers. The liquid released during this process flows into vats where it ferments.

How to Make Tequlia
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If you’re trying to spot an authentic bottle of Mexican tequila, there are a couple things to look for. First of all, the bottle has to have a Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM) number on it to signify that’s it’s been legally made. If you want the best kind of tequila, make sure it says that it’s made from 100 percent blue agave. You can request this type when at a restaurant, otherwise, it’s likely your drink will be made from “rail” mixto (lower quality with more additives).

There are five different categories of tequila to choose from, all with different tastes dependent on their aging times and process. From least amount of time aged to most, they are: Blanco (White) or Plata (Silver), Joven (Young) or Oro (Gold),  Reposado (Rested), Añejo (Aged) and Extra Añejo (Extra Aged).

And if you need a receipt for the perfect classic margarita, this one will never steer you wrong.

Margarita
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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Tequila