Mexico – a gorgeous country with hospitable people that is the perfect choice for a long-haul holiday. From her idyllic beaches in coastal Cancun and the Riviera Maya to historic sites like Tulum or Chichen Itza, she has so much to offer to sun-seeking travellers. And that’s before we get to food and drink.
The national spirit needs no introduction – or does it? Many people think they know about tequila and mezcal, but not many people know the facts about these drinks. Do you drink them either as a shot or as a slammer? If so, the experts say you’re doing it wrong!
Read on to learn some little-known facts about tequila (and mezcal) …
1. Tequila is a type of mezcal made near a city called Tequila
There are two fundamental requirements for calling mezcal ‘tequila’. Firstly, it must be manufactured in the region near the town of Tequila. Secondly, it must be made from blue agave plants, which are mostly found in the state of Jalisco – a variety of different agave plants can go into the production of mezcal.
2. Tequila is made from agave ‘pineapples’
Did you know that blue agave plant is the base ingredient for Mexico’s most famous tipple? The ‘pineapples’ are actually the heart of the plant, and these are removed from the plant to produce the tequila. They’re then heated to transform the starches into sugars for distillation and fermentation. Without the blue agave plant ‘pineapples’ as an ingredient, it’s not tequila.
3. You can buy glasses specifically for drinking tequila and mezcal
Wine and whiskey lovers take note – you can also buy glasses especially for drinking mezcal and tequila. The bowl-like design of caballito glasses allows you to smell the aroma as you tip the glass forward, before you tip your head back.
If you want to sample a premium tequila and experience the full range of flavours (or ‘tasting notes’ if you’re an enthusiast) and don’t have a caballito to hand, don’t worry. You can get a good tasting experience by serving your spirit in either a large-bowled wine glass or a brandy glass. Salud!
4. You can try tequila with an Irish connection
Want to try Mexico’s national drink but be patriotic at the same time? Look no further than Sino Tequila’s Adh Mor edition – the first tequila to be aged in Irish whiskey barrels. For the uninitiated, its name means “good luck” in the mother tongue. And if you want propose a toast to fine fortune, the Sino Reposado sipping tequila apparently offers up a pleasing blend of vanilla and cream notes – sounds lovely!
5. The world’s most expensive bottle of Tequila costs over 3 million euros
The title for the world’s most expensive bottle of tequila goes to Pasión Azteca’s Platinum Liquor Bottle, coming in at a cool 3.3 million euros (or $3.5 million). A cheeky shot of this premium stuff would put a 155,000-euros-sized hole in your bank balance! For comparison, a bottle of standard Mexican tequila is the equivalent of 3 euros, but the packaging may not be as nice.
There’s no mistaking the elegance of the bottles. The ‘lower end’ of Pasión Azteca’s tequila range costs around 210,000 euros and comes in a handcrafted, two-piece, platinum bottle. The millionaire’s product, meanwhile, is served from a diamond-encrusted bottle.
6. The smallest tequila bar in the world has one more seat than a car
Take a trip to the Dôce 18 Concept House in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and you can find a very special little bar: the Casa Dragones Tasting Room. This is the smallest tequila bar in the world, with a total of just six seats – but the venue’s lack of size is balanced by big tequila flavours.
Casa Dragones Joven is just the thing for tequila purists because it’s purposely designed to be enjoyed neat. If you’re on holiday in Mexico and plan to call in at this bar while you’re there, book in advance because tastings are by reservation only.
7. Yearly US demand for tequila requires 25 million agave plants
The popularity of tequila in the US has soared in the 21st century – that’s for sure. Tequila consumption in the USA requires 25 million agave plants per year to match national demand. If you lined them up, end to end, they would stretch around the equator 1,248 times.
8. The Mexican president once ran a car on tequila
American automotive giants Chrysler once produced a car with a turbine engine when jet engines were the craze. The vehicle was, undoubtedly, one of the coolest creations to come out of Detroit. One of the innovation’s admirers was the Mexican president, Adolfo López Mateos, who was in office from 1958 to 1964 and asked to take the car out for a spin – with a tank full of tequila. The car ran without a hitch. At the time, there was a rumour that the vehicle functioned well on Chanel No5 perfume, too!
9. Tequila can be turned into diamonds
Scientists at the National Autonomous University of Mexico discovered that they could create a thin film of diamonds from tequila. All it took was to heat the spirit until it became vapour, split the gas molecules into small particles and then increased the heat even more.
The resulting tequila crystals provide an alternative to using silicon in computer chips and can also be used in medical procedures as fine-cutting implements. Sad fact – they’re too small to make jewellery, though!
There is so much to learn about tequila that it’s tempting to take a holiday in Mexico and learn a little about the drink for yourself. Wherever you go in this beautiful country, the home of tequila, you’ll never be far away from a good bottle of this tipple.