In honor of National Tequila Day a brief history and lesson will be given on the fine Mexican alcohol that is tequila.
Tequila (Spanish pronunciation: TE’KILA) is made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila (40mil. northwest of Guadalajara) and in the highlands of the western Mexican state of Jalisco. Mexico has claimed the exclusive international right to the word “tequila”, threatening legal actions against manufacturers of distilled blue agave spirits in other countries. The main two types of tequila are first split into two categories, 100% Blue Agave, and Mixto (Mixed). Mixto contains a minimum of 51% Blue Agave, and the remaining 49% from other sugars (typically cane sugars). The two categories are then divided into five types. Silver: typically unaged and in its purest form. Gold: young and typically a mixto and used in bars for shots and mixed drinks. Reposado: The first stage of “rested and aged”. It is aged in wood barrels or storage tanks between 2 months and 11 months. Añejo: “extra aged” must be aged for at least one year. Extra Añejo: “ultra aged” aged for more then 3 years.
History: Tequila was first produced in the 16th century near the location of the city of Tequila, which was not officially established until 1656. The Aztec people had previously made a fermented beverage from the agave plant, which they called octli (later, and more popularly called pulque), long before the Spanish arrived in 1521. When the Spanish ran out of their own brandy, they began to distill agave to produce North America’s first indigenous distilled spirit. The tequila that is popular today was first mass-produced in the early 19th century in Guadalajara, Mexico. Don Cenobio Sauza, founder of Sauza Tequila and Municipal President of the Village of Tequila from 1884–1885, was the first to export it to the United States, and shortened the name from “Tequila Extract” to just “Tequila” for the American markets.
Ways to drink it: Typically Mexicans will sip on tequila poured in a shot glass by itself, with a side of sangrita (a chile-hot, tomato-citrus juice) or with a side beer. Another popular way to drink in Mexico is the “bandera” (Flag, in Spanish), it consists of three shot glasses, filled with lime juice (for the green), silver tequila, and sangrita (for the red). They can be sipped or drunk straight. Outside of Mexico, tequila is often drunk in the form of a single shot with salt and a slice of lime. There are many mixed drinks that involve tequila such as: Margaritas, Paloma, certain Martinis, Tequila Sunrise etc.