In this issue of Party Yak:
Like many things, tequila is much more interesting when you know a little something about it. Interesting party-talk facts like "agave is not a cactus" and tequila recipes like Margaritas and Brave Bulls.
My husband and I first discovered real tequila in a popular Mexican restaurant in Tiburon, California where you will not find tacos and enchiladas on the menu.
Later we learned that tequila comes from the blue agave (ah-gah'-vay) plants of Jalisco, Mexico and a few other designated growing areas.
Tequila and the Blue Agave
are hundreds of agave varieties, and as many uses, but blue agave is
used only to make tequila. Lucky us. And surprise, surprise, agave is not a cactus, it's a succulant. One
common agave variety is the 'century' plant. Blue agave plants are
similar, but bluish, and grow up to 8 feet high and 12 feet around. They
also take 8 to 12 years to mature to the point of harvesting.
At that time, a harvester, known as a jimador, whacks off the long spiky leaves and cuts the base away from the roots. What's left looks like a big blue and white pineapple, and is, in fact, called the piña, or pineapple. It is from this part of the plant that tequila is produced. And there are no second harvests; the blue agave is demolished in this process. It takes a long time to produce a bottle of tequila.
2 Types of Tequila, 4 Ages
There are only two types of tequila, 100% agave and mixto, or mixed tequila. Further classification is based on ageing. Either type of tequila can be...
Mixtos, which must contain at least 60% agave, are considered lesser tequilas because they have non-agave sugars added. They have a fourth classification…
All of the popular brands here in the states are mixtos. How to tell? If it doesn't say "100% agave" on the label, or if it's bottled in the United States, it's a mixto.
Even with 100% agave tequilas, aging trades flavor for smoothness. So añejos are smooth, blancos have more flavor, and reposados are
middle of the road. Some say that añejos and reposados are for sipping,
while blancos are for mixing. But if you like the flavor of agave, don't
hesitate to drink the blancos straight. Most tequila connoisseurs prefer 100% agave blancos for everything.
Brave Bulls for 4
We affectionately call this drink "Raging" Bull. The better the liqueur, the better the drink. Kahlúa is good.
6 ounces tequila
2 ounces coffee liqueur
2 teaspoons lime juice
Mix and serve in old-fashioned glasses over ice.
How to Make Margaritas:
Classic Margaritas for 4
6 ounces tequila
2 ounces Cointreau or Triple Sec
4 ounces fresh lime juice
Rub a lime wedge around the rim of 4 cocktail glasses and dip the rim of the glasses in margarita (coarse) salt, if you like. Shake off any excess. Pour margarita ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and serve in the salt-rimmed glasses.
Prepare cocktail glasses as above. Pour all margarita ingredients into a blender with 6-8 cups of crushed ice and blend until smooth. Serve.
Prepare the rim of cocktail glasses with lime and dip the rims in sugar, rather than salt. Add 8 ounces of fresh or frozen strawberries, or 2 ounces of strawberry schnapps to the blend. Garnish with a fresh strawberry and slice of lime, if desired.
Which types of tequila or tequila drink recipes do you prefer? Not sure? Have a tequila-tasting party; everyone brings their favorite for everyone else to try.