Friday, July 24th is National Tequila Day and I couldn't be more excited. I can't imagine a more perfect summer evening than one filled with margaritas and tacos and laughing with friends.
Many people associate tequila with waking up on a motel floor during spring break; they choose to avoid it because it's a terrifying spirit that makes people take their clothes off and kill an entire week with a terrible hangover. I'm here to tell you that is not the case if you drink quality spirits. This goes for everything you drink, but you'll really discover that tequila cocktails can be your friend again with a little basic knowledge.
Number one: Don't drink inexpensive Gold tequila. It is not made of 100 percent agave, and they add caramel coloring and flavoring to fill it out. This is why you had those nasty college hangovers. You are a grown up now, so drink like one.
Number two: Choose a nice brand of tequila with 100 percent agave printed on the label. It should fall under one of these three classifications, based on your taste preferences.
Blanco: The Blue Agave spirit in its purest form. It is clear and typically un-aged and the true flavors and natural sweetness are present. It can be bottled directly after distillation or stored in stainless steel tanks to settle for up to four weeks.
Reposado:This is the first stage of "rested and aged." The tequila is aged in wood barrels or storage tanks for two to 11 months. The spirit takes on a golden hue and the taste becomes a balance between the agave and wood flavors. Many different types of wood barrels can be used for aging, the most common being American or French Oak. Some tequilas are aged in bourbon/whiskey, cognac or wine barrels and will inherit unique flavors from the previous spirit.
Añejo: After aging for at least one year, tequila can be classified as Añejo. Distillers are required to age the tequila in barrels that do not exceed 600 liters. This aging process darkens the tequila to an amber color and the flavor can become smoother, richer and more complex.
A good tequila is every bit as interesting and complex as good scotch. Once you learn the difference, it can be life changing.
Recently I attended a tasting with Gran Centenario and was fascinated by the subtle differences in the three types of tequila. I highly recommend having some friends over and having a tasting. Remember, margaritas come AFTER the sampling so you can keep your palate fresh. After sipping a few shots, you can do whatever you want.
In fact, here's Gingerita, a delicious recipe we created using Casamigos Blanco Tequila (yes, George Clooney's tequila):
1 part tequila
1 part triple sec
1/2 part ginger juice (you can make your own or purchase, ours was from Whole Foods)
1/2 part fresh lime juice
Agave to taste
This was so yummy and I wished we had made it in pitcher form, so you may want to make the base in a large jar then just add the spirits by the glass. If you keep it refrigerated, you can can even do it the morning before your cocktail party.
I hope you enjoy your new found love of tequila sipping, and remember the most important part of truly luxurious cocktailing: never drive anywhere! Give yourself the freedom to have that second margarita (or third) and let Uber drive you around like a responsible human.
I can't wait to hear about how you spend Friday. Tweet us photos of your delicious beverages!
Images via Mary Kay Holmes and courtesy of Bacardi Limited