T Recs, or... Which Tequila?

We recently had cause (we were hungry and it was a restaurant) to visit a place that specialized in a fine selection of tequilas. Their menu had a list arranged by price of probably fifty different tequilas, more than I ever knew existed. Not only did the overall number surprise me but the dollar number did too. Some were in the range of $20 to 30 US a shot. This aroused my immediate curiosity, which was satiated by a nice, very smooth mid-range sample. However, that simply ignited a curiosity to learn a bit more about this particular product.

Frankly, before our experience I’d never considered tequila something I’d enjoy sipping straight. But based on that and with a store owner’s suggestion, I recently bought a bottle of Antigua Cruz, I think the 100% Agave Reserva. A nip of salt, sip of the smooth liquid and small bite of a tangerine makes for a very pleasant taste sensation. I tried the tangerine since we were out of limes and prefer it’s less tart addition. For a tequila that’s going to be mixed, we’ve found and acceptable blend of taste and price in Sauza’s Conmeritivo.

I’m curious as to which tequila brands, and especially the specific “make” that you’d recommend for both (a) sipping tequila, and (b) tequila-based drinks like a margarita.

One more thing… I got the sense a super premium tequila doesn’t impart that “buzzed” feeling like cheaper ones might and that’s precisely what I’d prefer. Just my imagination or might that actually be the case?

If you’re ever in Guadalajara, there’s plenty of opportunity to see/sample a lot more than 50 tequilas. Some restaurants boast hundreds of available tequilas. They’ve even got this “Tequila Train” that’s on par with a wine tasting tour, but you come back a lot more wasted.
My favorites brands are:

Don Fernando - AFAIC it’s the best you can get. BevMo has it sometimes.
Don Julio - Also very good, and is a lot more common outside of Mexico than Don F.
Cazadores - a bit stronger than the others, not as smooth, but a good shootin’ tequila.

NEVER drink tequila that’s more yellow than clear. When I told some of my Mexican friends about the deep yellow color of some “popular” tequilas like Jose Cuervo, they wondered what the distillers were doing to make it yellow. Use your imagination as to what their guess was.

ONLY buy tequila that has the words “100% Blue Agave” (or 100% Agave Azul). Anything else is crap, and don’t believe anyone that tries to tell you different.

As for drinks, I personally prefer it straight with a lime wedge, but “Tequila Bandera” is pretty good too. This requires three shot glasses, one with tequila, one with lime juice, the third with sangrita (or Snappy Tom). Bandera means “flag”, so red, white, and green being the colors of the Mexican flag…you get the picture.

I have friends that love Tequila con Squirt, which is pretty much what the name implies. Mix to taste.

As far as makes, I’ve been told if you go with an Anjeo (aged) or Reserva (super-duper aged) for a sipping tequila you’ll generally be on the right track. From there price will proabably be a good indicator.

I’ve heard that, about Tequila and other top end liquors as well. A friend of mine in undergrad attended a whiskey tasting party at the hotel she worked at, and said you’d be amazed at how incredibly smooth, non buzzed and hangover free a bottle of $100+ liquor can be. Couldn’t say myself, of course…

For mixed drinks, we’ve settled on Sauza Hornitos. It’s 100% Blue Agave (Sauza Conmemorativo isn’t, IIRC). Not top shelf, but mixed with Cointreau and fresh lime juice, it works nice.

I like Herradura Silver, another 100%.

I don’t really like the really expensive anejo tequilas, they seem a little too…I don’t know, too concentrated I guess. A reposado is fine in any of the nice brands like Patron, Don Julio, El Tesoro.

I’m not really a connoisseur, and not all that hot on sipping straight tequila, this is just my observations.

I think we did go thru 18 liters of Hornitos this party season (and 9 each of Cointreau and lime juice).

Take a look at this book for more info on tequila. Fascinating read.

I generally like to keep some Cazadores Reposado around for fancy mixing, and right now I’m working on a bottle of Milagro Select for a sipping tequila. It’s pretty good. Not fantastic, but pretty good.

My fave is Lapiz. It’s been hard to find lately, so I’m not even sure they make it anymore. BTW, if you’re ever in San Diego and have a tequila jones, the place to go is El Agave .

There is no Tequila worth $20-$30 a shot.

None whatsoever.

That being said there are some great Tequilas out there. Just keep in mind that the “salt gulp lime” is for tourists. Fine tequila is imbibed like a good whiskey.

It’s sipped.

Viva Tequila

I recently attended a friend’s wedding where the Bride’s (she’s Mexican/Italian) recommended drink of choice was shots of Patron Silver and the Groom’s (he’s Mexican/American) recommended drink of choice was shots of Tres Generaciones. They’re big Tequila drinkers so I trust their judgement (it’s their wedding after all). Both were really good. My girlfriend, who isn’t much of a drinker, was sipping Tres Generaciones all night long and didn’t get hammered or feel bad the morning after.

I, on the other hand, made the mistake of mixing with beer and felt like death warmed over the next day. :wally