It seems that everyone has a tequila story.
But, for a moment, let’s forget the salt and lime, forget the margaritas, and take tequila seriously. As seriously as you would a fine scotch. Yes? Yes.
We’ll get to the scotch comparison in a moment. I want to share with you all my Tequila discoveries from my recent trip to Mexico.
Tequila by Day
In the heat of day on Riviera Maya in Mexico, refreshment is the most important function of a beverage. And that’s what the Tequilajito offered.
I’m not a fan of the Mojito. I find it too sweet and undefined. But the Tequilajito, which is the creation of Chef Oscar at the Hacienda Tres Rios (who were my hosts for this trip), is fabulous. Mixing crushed basil leaves with brown sugar and grapefruit juice, it is full of interesting flavor. Here’s the recipe and how to make one. Take note, in the picture above, Oscar is making a dozen at once.
Lime – 2 1/3 ounzes
Basel – 8 leaves
Brown sugar – 3 tablespoons
Tequila – 1 1/2 ounces
Fresca or grapefruit soda
I watched Chef Oscar make the drinks. Crush the basil leaves into the lime juice, mix in the brown sugar, add the Tequila and then the Fresca and you’re done.
I highly recommend them!
Tequila by Night
The next evening, we were encouraged to expand our understanding of Tequila at a proper tasting. There was no lime or salt involved but there was a lot of Tequila. A lot. We tasted at least 10 types starting with the young and harsh moving toward the mature and smooth.
Like Champagne, Tequilla cannot be made by just anyone.
There are 355 Tequila producers in Mexico and they make over 1000 kinds of Tequila. Just as there are different production methods there are also taste and color differences.
We were first taught how to taste and appreciate Tequila. The Tequila does not burn when you follow these steps:
- Pour a small amount – 1 to 1 1/2 ounces – into wine glass or snifter.
- Swirl the Tequila in your glass to open the scent.
- Hold your glass to the light to look at the color. Clear? Amber?
- Rotate again, circling the Tequila high in the glass then hold it still to see how long it takes for the Tequila to fall back into the glass. As with wine tasting, you’re watching for how long it takes the legs to form which is an indicator of the sugar content.
- Sniff the Tequila with your nose about an inch from the glass so you’re aren’t overwhelmed by the alcohol.
- Take a deep breath.
- Swallow the Tequila.
- Breathe out.
- Notice how the flavor affects different areas of your mouth.
Without doubt, by the time we tasted the high end Tequilas, I was enjoying a fine spirit as good as single malt scotch.
Cleansing the Palate with the Sangrita
While we didn’t use this typical drink for cleansing the palate at Tequila tastings between each one we tried, we did get to experience the refreshing Sangrita. This recipe makes one litre:
- 400 ml Orange juice
- 400 ml tomato juice
- 50 ml Lemon juice
- 30 ml Grenadine syrup
- 20 ml Worcestershire sauce, Maggi and Tabasco hot sauce
- Sale & Pepper to taste
Mix together and serve cold. Lasts in fridge 3-4 days.