It’s February, and if you couldn’t tell by the title, this month I am covering tequila! This is one of the coldest months of the entire year, and it might be nice to have some warming drinks up our sleeves to help us get through the chilly weather. If you live in the southern hemisphere, then I’m guessing tequila month is really welcome for you. I’ve got a tequila guide for you today, so you can be more informed about what bottle to buy for all my cocktail recipes this month.
Are you wondering how I landed on tequila for February? Well, members of my email list got to vote! One of the perks of being a part of it. If you’re not on the list yet, you should be. You’ll get my free 24-page e-book, The Complete Guide to Building Your Home Bar, which will help you feel more comfortable mixing cocktails at home. Sign up here!
Now, let’s toast to tequila.
FEBRUARY KINDRED SPIRIT: TEQUILA
Tequila is one of my favorite liquors for cocktails. (Who am I kidding? They’re all my favorites. Except gin. Gin is low on my list. I know, I know. I’m working on it.) And there’s always shots, of course. But, if you left your shot glasses behind at your college apartment, tequila is also fabulous for sipping, either neat or on the rocks. Tequila can be, dare I suggest, a mellow experience.
Tequila is a type of mezcal, which is an agave-based liquor. Agaves are a large (and often ornamental succulent) chiefly found in Mexico and desert climates. They can grow up to 7 feet tall! Tequila is made specifically from fermenting hearts of the blue Weber agave, or simply the blue agave. Like champagne — a sparkling wine given its name only when it comes from the Champagne region of France — Mexican law dictates that tequila is a mezcal given its name only if it comes from in or near the Mexican town of Tequila.
Types of tequila: The bottles come in several aging categories. Each of these is denoted on the label itself. Mixto is a term used for tequilas that aren’t 100% agave, but a mixture of agave and cane sugars. Most of the common lower-shelf tequila brands are mixto, but look for 100% agave on the label.
- Blanco, or silver is the most common type of tequila, and it’s often used for mixed drinks, like margaritas. Clear and colorless, it is unaged and stored in stainless steel tanks while it rests.
- Joven abocado or gold tequila is also unaged, but with a caramel color and flavoring added to make the spirit appear aged. Gold tequilas are usually mixto.
- Reposado tequila gets its name from the word for ‘rested’ in Spanish because it is aged in oak barrels for between two months and one year. The aging process gives it some of the oak’s coloration and flavor, though additional coloring and flavoring are sometimes added. It is used for mixing and sipping.
- Añejo is a premium tequila that has been aged for a year or longer, getting its name from the word for ‘aged’ in Spanish. Like a fine cognac, it is meant to be sipped straight.
- Extra añejo is tequila that has been aged for longer three years. It is smoother and richer than añejo, and also meant for sipping only.
What it tastes like: Agave, citrus, spicy, floral, pepper, grassy, herbal, chocolate, oak, mellow, smooth, vanilla
How to drink it: Smell it twice before taking a sip, fully inhaling and exhaling each time with your lips parted. Then, take a small sip to help prepare your palate before a bigger sip. Drink tequila neat, on the rocks, frozen (as in margaritas) or as a shot.
If you’re doing tequila shots, the American tradition is to lick salt out of your hand just before taking the shot, then sucking on a lime slice.
Popular brands: Milagro, Patron, El Jimador, Jose Cuervo, Espolon, Gran Centenario, Lunazul, Olmeca Altos, Sauza, Don Julio, 1800, Tres Agaves, Maestro Dobel
Feast + West favorites: Patron, El Jimador, 1800, Sauza
Starring roles: the Margarita, Tequila Sunrise, the Paloma, the Bloody Maria, Juan Collins,
National Tequila Day: July 24
- The 7 Best Budget Tequilas // Serious Eats
- Tequila: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails, and Bites by Joanne Weir
- A drinker’s guide to tasting, and enjoying, tequila // Columbus Crave
- The Best Tequilas Right Now // Esquire