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Tequila!
Old 12-07-2012, 06:13 PM   #1
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Tequila!

There have been a few threads about alcoholic drinks on this Web site, and I am happy to learn while there are many beer drinkers and home brewers here, there are also people who like stronger spirits. I usually have a small glass of red wine with dinner, but also drink beer, and occasionally stronger spirits like gin, vodka, whisky, rum, etc... Of the 80-proof potent drinks, people here know that I am partial to cognac and other fruit brandies, but I have seen that some people here prefer fancy single-malt whiskeys, and particularly tequila.

That tequila being more popular here than whiskey among posters came as a surprise to me. I drink tequila in margarita, but never a dry shot. And I ordered margarita in restaurants and bars, but have never made it at home. So, my knowledge of tequila is zilch.

I am a firm believer that any spirit called good should be drinkable straight up. I am absolutely against pouring shots down one's throat just to get drunk. One can just do that with pure ethanol. I cringed when I once served expensive cognac to a guest who knocked it down like a barbarian.

If a drink is any good, it should be sipped, and its flavor savored and analyzed by one's tongue and palate. With the coming holiday, I am thinking about getting a nice bottle of tequila, with the intention of drinking it straight up. Yes, I know about the salt-and-lime ritual, but have never done it.

My questions to fellow drinkers are:

1) Is the above the correct way to drink a good tequila, and if not, what is the proper way to treat it "with respect"?

2) What is a good tequila that you would recommend? I looked at BevMo! web site to see what they carry in the store near me, but get confused by so many different brands.

One important point that I'd like to make is that I would not want to pay too much for a bottle for this experiment. I have had a few bottles of XO cognacs that cost $150, but I know I like them and am willing to pay the price. As I am not so sure about tequila, I like to limit the price to $50 or less. Is that doable?

And to put readers into the right mood, here's some music to start.



PS. I might be able to buy small 50ml bottles to sample. That would be an excellent choice, before committing to something that I may not like and have to use up in home-made margarita.

PPS. I started this thread in "Life after FIRE" because I think people who have retired would have more time to indulge in hedonic pursuits like this.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:28 PM   #2
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The distillery and agave harvest I visited was Tres Generaciones

Tres Generaciones ™ – Triple Distilled Tequila

Which has apparently won awards....

Tres Generaciones - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And I did sample the tequila. Apparently "straight up" is the way to go, but I chose to sip it. However I have never drunk tequila before or since, so I am a total neophyte on this subject.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:38 PM   #3
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Apparently "straight up" is the way to go, but I chose to sip it.
Sorry. I should have written "straight" instead of "straight up". I meant to drink a spirit in its pure form, without mixing it with anything. The only factor that might be considered would be the temperature. Some drinks should be taken warm, such as cognac. Some are usually drink cold, such as gin or sherry. Perhaps a bit of water is OK.

For example, I am no whiskey connaisseur, but have seen on a TV show that whiskey should be drunk with a bit of water mixed in it, as demonstrated at an Irish distillery. It is said that the water brought out the flavor and made the whiskey better than without. I just now remember it, and have yet to perform the experiment.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:42 PM   #4
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I am a tequila aficionado. So I can give you a bit of my preference.

Salt and lime is old school for when tequila was crap and you had to do a max override on the taste. No one uses salt and lime with a nice single malt. Low class. Nix it.

Its all about the taste. And it is an acquired palate like anything else. For drinking neat, don't use a shot glass and don't "shoot" it, unless it with sorority chicks at a frat party. It is sipped like fine cognac. Use a smaller version of a cognac snifter. There are actually tequila glasses but they are hard to find. You want the aromatics to hover over the liquid and get in your nose as you sip.

Basically, there are 3 varieties based on the aging process:

Plata or silver is the least aged and has the most "agave" taste, if its a good one. It is good chilled, but a really good plata is awesome at room temp. I've had it straight from the still down in Tequila at the distillery and it is unbelievable (although overproof). A decent silver is good for margies. Has to be 100% blue agave. Not Cuervo Silver, which is 50% sugar in the fermentation, rather than 100% agave. Big difference. States it on the label. So check first before buying. Decent readily available choices (that I like at least) are Milagro, Asomboso, and actually Kirkland (from Costco). There are a bunch.

The next is somewhat aged: Reposado. This is what I like to drink straight and also in premium margaritas. Still has good agave flavor but a bit of oak. Cheap junk has had oak chips added to it to absorb flavor and is horrible or caramel to give it the golden color (ala Gold tequila, avoid at all costs). Good reposado is smooth, still a little fiery on the aftertaste and not too sharp on the oak. I like Cazadores, Fortaleza, Don Julio or Milagro. Not a big Patron fan. A bit too sharp for my tastes. There are a ton of good repos. Some are great in margies but not the best straight, and visa versa.

Finally, Anejo, the aged stuff. More like Cognac at the extreme of aging and premium price. Lost most of its fire. Smooth as silk. Better still taste like Tequila or you might as well drink something else. A killer anejo is Herradura Selection Suprema. Be ready to pay up. Don Julio is a fine readily available choice. Don't waste good anejo with any mix. Although, Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia makes a very nice float on a premium margarita. That's giving away one of my mixology secrets.

Salud.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:48 PM   #5
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I am a tequila aficionado. So I can give you a bit of my preference.

Salt and lime is old school for when tequila was crap and you had to do a max override on the taste. No one uses salt and lime with a nice single malt. Low class. Nix it.
Guess I'm not a high class aficionado. Lick some salt off your hand, drop a shot followed off with a lime wedge then off you go.
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:41 PM   #6
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For high quality tequila, sipping is preferred, as is a glass that will collect the scents vaporizing off the surface. For tequilas that can be easily purchased, Don Julio makes a good anejo, and their 1942 (not a year, just a product name) is exquisite, and Clase Azul's anejo is delicious as well (and comes in a gorgeous bottle). I agree with ronin's suggestions, though I like Patron, especially for margaritas, and I suggest avoiding all Jose Cuervo always. That stuff can ruin even a margarita and is undrinkable straight. Actually it is undrinkable in a margarita too.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:05 PM   #7
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I drink it straight more often than any other way. I don't much care for anejos, which is odd because I prefer the more boldly flavored single barrel bourbons. I would start with a silver/plata and a reposado, both straight at room temp for sipping. I like Sauza Tres Generacions, Herradura and Chinaco. Patron is wildly over-rated and overpriced, IMO.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:25 PM   #8
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I recently tried Avion Reposado and find it to be a very good sipping tequila.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:49 PM   #9
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Personally, I am a fan of Reposado; but, as mentioned before, it really is a matter of taste/preference/use.

Don't believe the advice to avoid all Jose Cuervo always. There really is some awful stuff in the USA from that house (which I might admit consuming in quantity when much younger); but, they also make some very good high-end stuff. I personally always have a bottle of Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado Tequila in my home bar: It is something that I enjoy on its own (I will admit that it is at the low end of that spectrum.); but, it is not so expensive as to pain me when guests mix it or I have a margarita crave.

Don Julio is probably a good quality/price-point for your investigation. If you do not like it, it makes a good addition to your bar for guests.

Idea for a new thread: Cognac and other brandies. (I have had some that I liked recently but do not know much about them.)
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:40 AM   #10
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I used to slam shots of tequilla with salt and lemons but that was mainly a 20 something exercise in nuttiness. Now I enjoy sipping on a good rum. I also like Grand Marnier which I kept in the closet about for a long time because it seemed such a sweet, wussy ladies drink. Then I read in Kitchen Confidential that bar tenders visiting each other after hours (and late night pub crawling cooks that join them) frequently reach for the Grand Marnier. Now it is my out of the closet go to liquor.
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Old 12-08-2012, 08:36 AM   #11
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and Clase Azul's anejo is delicious as well
Haven't tried the anejo, but I'll bet you are right. I really like the reposado.

This is where we do our serious tequila shopping:

ramirezliquor.com

Folks after our own heart who are into tequila, knowledgeable staff, great inventory, 25 minutes down the road toward shaky town. Probably visit them in day or two as the annual tamale party my good friends host is coming up. Makes the all the prep work a little more fun. At the actual party, the collection of tequilas that everyone brings is great. Tasting into the wee hours.

Haven't had this one in a while. A bit pricey, but very nice on occasion. Might pick it up for my friends.
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Old 12-08-2012, 08:43 AM   #12
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Great tequila advice! I'm not a straight tequila drinker, but I always admire the bottles and wonder..... At least I now know what to buy for margaritas if I ever make them. Great reading.

I once had the privilege of visiting a small boutique mescal factory/restaurant in Oaxaca. They showed the entire process, from harvesting to roasting the agave hearts in a pit, fermentation, distilling. We got to taste the pit-roasted agave - kind of like a smokey sweet potato or acorn squash. Very nice! They explained the aging - reposado, añejo, etc. they made flavored ones too - the coffee mescal was nice if a bit too sweet.

I think they were using the maguey agave instead of the blue agave.
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:27 AM   #13
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I live in the Mexican state of Jalisco where Tequila is grown and have done a lot of reading and tasting over the years. Marketing hype and the uniquely American tradition of downing shots of bad mixto Tequila have made it hard to access the really great stuff. Here's a blog post from a couple of years ago that may prove of interest:

Eating Local at Lakeside: Tequila beyond frozen margaritas & shots
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:58 AM   #14
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Never seen Tequila being grown.

Nice article. So many tequilas to avoid. I'd add Cabo Wabo to the list.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:02 AM   #15
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Never seen Tequila being grown.


Almost always have a Margarita with Mexican food, but otherwise rarely so I'm not very knowledgeable re: tequila. DW and I had $50 margaritas once just for fun (now $55), yes they were very good, you only live once.

My days of drinking shots may be over, but who knows. Tequila shots with salt & lime are were more fun than other plain shots though.

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Maria Felix Margarita $55.00
Herradura Selección Suprema and Grand Marnier 150 year with just-squeezed lime juice and a sea salt rim — prepared tableside
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:05 AM   #16
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Never seen Tequila being grown.
How about wine or beer?
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:35 AM   #17
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I live in the Mexican state of Jalisco where Tequila is grown and have done a lot of reading and tasting over the years. Marketing hype and the uniquely American tradition of downing shots of bad mixto Tequila have made it hard to access the really great stuff. Here's a blog post from a couple of years ago that may prove of interest:

Eating Local at Lakeside: Tequila beyond frozen margaritas & shots
When I saw your post I knew you were going to get ribbed because of the "grown" comment. Folks here never miss an opportunity.

Nice blog post. Everyone interested in tequila should read it.

Quote:
Now one thing that really sets Tequila apart from other distillates is that mature, freshly-fermented and distilled agave juice has a great deal of inherent flavor. This is not true of grain distillates like Scotch or Bourbon, nor grape products like Cognac or Armagnac, all of which depend on lengthy exposure to wood for their primary flavors and are not something you'd want to taste out of the still.
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Old 12-08-2012, 11:30 AM   #18
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This would be a preferred tequila glass IMO.
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Old 12-08-2012, 04:00 PM   #19
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This would be a preferred tequila glass IMO.
That's the Riedel Tequila glass and it's the best choice for reposados and añejos, but for blancos (which offer the pure tast and aroma of agave unmarred by oak) you want to sip (not gulp!) your Tequila out of a standard Tequila shot glass (called a caballito), ideally at cool room temperature.
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Old 12-08-2012, 05:35 PM   #20
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Wow! Lots of good info from fellow posters here. I know a bit more about tequila already from the above posts and link.

I think I will pick up a bottle of reposado among the several brands recommended above. I may pick up a small 50mL sample bottle of anejo to try too. I am not yet a fan of tequila to have a blanco neat.

I did a price check of the recommended bottles, and it looks like there's plenty to chose from in the price range of $30-$50. I also looked at that bottle of Porfidio with a 3-digit price, which so far I have only paid for XO-grade cognac. If I become an aficionado of tequila to be willing to pay that, I will be sure to make an announcement.

About the $50 margarita, well, it certainly looks like it is made with top ingredients. Too rich for this cheapskate though.

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I used to slam shots of tequilla with salt and lemons but that was mainly a 20 something exercise in nuttiness. Now I enjoy sipping on a good rum. I also like Grand Marnier which I kept in the closet about for a long time because it seemed such a sweet, wussy ladies drink. Then I read in Kitchen Confidential that bar tenders visiting each other after hours (and late night pub crawling cooks that join them) frequently reach for the Grand Marnier. Now it is my out of the closet go to liquor.
I do occasionally drink sweet liquor like Cointreau or Drambuie, but prefer the stiffer drinks. My mother uses Grand Marnier in her orange cake. Grand Marnier is made with cognac as the base, so if you like to reduce the carb in your drink, well, you know what to try next.

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This would be a preferred tequila glass IMO.


The above looks like champagne glasses that I have, except mine have shorter stems. I guess that will have to do. However, when I drink alone and do not care about appearance, every liquor is poured into a cognac glass. Yes, that's my multi-purpose "drinkware", except for beer.

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Guess I'm not a high class aficionado. Lick some salt off your hand, drop a shot followed off with a lime wedge then off you go.
That may not be a bad thing, as long as I know whom I am going with and where to.
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