We thought tequila was something you gulped from a shot glass and paid heavily for the next day, but it turns out we’ve been wrong the whole time. Here’s the experts in Mexico tell us how you should be drinking it…
Tequila downed in shots with salt and lime, followed by the world’s worst headache the next day. Sound familiar? If it does, then you’re doing it all wrong. According to the experts at TUI Sensatori Resort Azul in Mexico, it’s actually something to be sipped and savoured – like a good whiskey. So, when they invited us over for an education in all things tequila from their expert barman, Wilbert (pictured below), we were on the plane quicker than you can say ‘salud’.
Here’s what we can remember, sorry, learnt from our lesson in tequila tasting…
Go 100% agave
Whatever you do, don’t buy ‘mixto’ tequilas. The good stuff will say 100% agave on the label, meaning it’s made from pure blue agave plants with no added nasties. Anything that isn’t 100% has been mixed with cane sugars – and it’s this that gives you the groggy head the next day. As Wilbert says, if you have fun with less than 100% agave tequilas, you’ll pay for it in the morning.
Know your reposado from your blanco
Tequilas are not all made equal. Once you’ve got your head around buying 100% agave, you’ve got to pick from the main varieties, which are classified by how old they are. Blanco, also known as silver, is the baby – it’s bottled straight after distillation and is great for mixing in cocktails. Reposado is matured in barrels for 2-11 months for a smoother taste, ideal for sipping. And anejo has the same treatment, but for a more complex flavour it’s aged for longer – between 12 months and 3 years.
Don’t use a shot glass
Proper tequila drinkers don’t neck it down in one gulp, so put away your stumpy shot glasses. Taller, narrow shot glasses will do, but snifter glasses (pictured below) – like you’d use to drink cognac or brandy – are better. If you’re really serious about it, get yourself the ‘official’ Champagne flute-style Ouverture Tequila glasses.
Ditch the salt and lime
In Mexico, most folks drink their tequila neat, straight from the freezer. The trend for lime and salt comes from outside the country, probably as a way of masking the harsh taste of the mixto varieties. But the good stuff will burn in your belly not your throat, so you won’t need to drink anything but the tequila. That said…
Sip a Sangrita
If you do want a chaser, especially with a blanco, get yourself a shot glass of Sangrita. This concoction is typically a mix of lime, orange and tomato juices with a dash of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces. Or orange, lime and pomegranate juice with chilli powder, if you’re a traditionalist. Alternate sips of the red stuff with sips of your tequila. Alternatively, you could make like Wilbert’s dad and add sliced cucumber to your tequila for a “balanced diet.”
TUI Sensatori Resort Azul
TUI Sensatori Resort Azul is a luxurious beachfront retreat on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. The resort has a 24-hour Gourmet Inclusive dining set-up. All your food and drink is included, and the quality is taken to the next level.