Blame Hollywood. For the fact that tequila is such a bar star, that is.
Long before HBO’s Entourage plugged Avión (even giving the spirit its own storyline that persisted through a couple of seasons), tequila was on a pretty friendly basis with the heavy hitters of stage and screen. Bing Crosby fell in love with Herradura
in Mexico in the 1950s and worked with a pal to start importing the spirit to the United States. Cabo Wabo was launched by Van Halen’s Sammy Hagar in the 1990s, Carlos Santana owns Casa Noble and, perhaps most famously, George Clooney tried to get in on the action by launching Casamigos, some three or four years back.
Although these celebrity endorsements helped fuel the ongoing tequila trend, we think Mexico’s signature spirit eventually would have caught on based on its own merits. Not only is tequila currently cresting the wave of all flavours Latin, it’s also being picked up by many bartenders who have fallen for the spirit’s unique citrusy flavour profile and the fact that it mixes incredibly well with everything from juice to herbs and citrus to vermouth. It’s the ideal, versatile cocktail ingredient, making it a spirit for all seasons.
2 ounces Espolon Blanco tequila
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce orange liqueur
2 ounces lemon-lime soda
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients (except the soda) in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with soda and garnish with a grapefruit or lime slice.
The Moscow Burro
2 ounces Espolon tequila
1/2 ounce mezcal
Juice of half a lime, plus wedge for garnish
1 cup ginger beer
2 cups crushed ice*
Pour tequila, mezcal and lime juice into a large glass filled
with crushed ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with
a lime wedge.
*For crushed ice, put standard ice cubes in a zip top bag and seal it, making sure there is no excess air. Cover the bag with a dishtowel, and then smash the ice to the desired size with a meat mallet or a rolling pin. Presto! Crushed ice.
A Town Called Tequila
1½ oz Maestro Dobel tequila
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
3 slices cucumber
1 egg white
Pour lemon juice, simple syrup, two cucumber slices and egg white into a shaker. Muddle and then shake without ice. Open shaker, fill with ice and shake again. Add tequila. Fine strain into a tall coupe. Garnish with a cucumber slice.
Maestro Dobel Sour
1½ oz Maestro Dobel tequila
1½ oz fresh grapefruit juice
1 oz simple syrup*
1 egg white
2 dashes mole (or chocolate) bitters
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Pour all ingredients into a shaker with no ice. Seal and shake for at least a minute. Open and fill with ice. Seal and shake again. Fine strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a few dashes of angostura bitters.
*Simple Syrup: Mix equal parts sugar and water, simmer on low heat until the sugar
is fully dissolved.
How to read the label on your tequila bottle
Tequila production is a tightly regulated industry in Mexico, which, by law, is the only country in which tequila can be produced. It is always made from agave, a spike plant that people have come to believe is a cactus but, in fact, is a closer relative to the asparagus plant. The heart of the plant—the piña—is harvested, cooked, fermented, distilled and then aged. If it spends under two months aging in stainless steel tanks, the colour-free spirit is called a “blanco” or “silver.” A “reposado” is a spirit that has spent less than a year “resting” in oak—a period in which it usually picks up a light straw colour from the wood. Anything over a year spent aging in a cask qualifies it to be classified as an “anejo.” Although most people think more years automatically translates into better taste, many tequila fans beg to differ, insisting that the clean taste of a good blanco is the purest expression of the spirit. Final note: “Gold” tequila or “oro” might sound and look good, but is usually made by adding neutral grain spirits, artificial flavours and colour to a tequila base.