A night out presents a challenge: What tastes good, what feels good, and how much can you have while remaining responsible? Whether you are into cocktails or drinking things straight-up, there are many ways to enjoy tequila, most of which come down to which tequila’s flavor profile is compatible with your taste buds. Perhaps you might ask, “Is there a liquor store near me?” The production and aging processes have a major effect on how tequila-based drinks taste, so let’s start there.
How Is Tequila Made?
Many refer to tequila as “cactus juice.” Indeed, it’s made from agave, a small round succulent that resembles a cactus. There are dozens of species of agave, but the singular species that can be used for tequila is Agave Tequilana Weber Azul. Many refer to it as “blue agave,” and it thrives in unusually hostile soil. Tapping into agave’s succulent property is what allows for the production of tequila.
Harvesting is very involved, requiring the consistent assistance of jimadors, wielders of long, sharp knives who chop up the agave and prepare it for extraction of the juice. Agave fruits may be halved or quartered to expedite the cooking process. Once the starch in each agave fruit is converted into sugar that is capable of fermentation, the fruits are removed from the cooking device and mashed further for purposes of juice extraction. The sugary juice is then extracted from the bottom of the mill. Yeast is added to the juice in order to ferment the sugar into alcohol. After fermentation, the distillation process is similar to that with which to make whiskey, except tequila must be run through a still twice to be called tequila. At about 60 calories per shot, tequila is one of the purest forms of alcohol, maintaining a slight sweetness as it ventures from distillery and farm to bar, consumer, or liquor store.
Which Tequila Cocktail Should I Drink?
Tequila is a fairly versatile drink in that one can add it to cocktails with many different flavor profiles, from spicy and sweet to sour and bitter. There’s not a whole lot to tequila, but it has just enough flavor to bring something new to the table. Without further ado, let’s talk about some tasty cocktails to impress even the pickiest of eaters.
Margarita (Feat. Don Julio Blanco)
As a beverage on the sweeter side of the spectrum, the margarita is a consistent crowd pleaser. To make an appropriate margarita with Don Julio Blanco, you’ll need two ounces of the titular tequila, one and a half ounces of lime juice, an ounce of agave nectar, and an ounce of club soda or seltzer. Doesn’t that sound refreshing? Don’t worry too much about agave nectar because you can always swap that out for two or three pinches of sugar. Combine all reagents apart from the soda in a shaker. Add ice, and shake. Once the concoction is in a tumbler, top it off with the soda, and garnish it with a lime wedge. If you’re feeling especially fancy, you can slice off a generous piece of rind and plop it in.
Paloma (Also Feat. Don Julio Blanco)
The paloma bridges the gap between sweet and spicy, pushing the boundaries of picky eaters just enough to snatch those eaters’ attention. To make this one, you will need an ounce and a half of tequila, an ounce of grapefruit juice (unless you take heart medication), a half an ounce of lime juice, and an ounce of seltzer or club soda. Before you put anything into the glass, add the spice: Salt the rim with chili powder. This will contrast against the sweet tang of the myriad juices. As with the margarita, combine everything except for the club soda in the shaker, shake generously, and pour the drink into your salted glass. At the very end, add the soda.
Lemonada (Also Feat. Don Julio Blanco)
A signature sweet and sour drink, lemonada can please any picky eater. This one is a bit more involved than the former two. You will need: an ounce and a half of tequila, three ounces of cold water, three quarters of an ounce of lemon juice, eight mint leaves, a teaspoon of sugar, and a dozen ice cubes. You can increase the amount of sugar and mint leaves to taste. Put the lemon juice, sugar, and mint leaves in a blender. Pulse the blender a couple times only until the leaves are chopped as finely as possible. Add the tequila and cold water, pulsing the blender until the mixture is homogeneous. Finally, add the ice to the blender, pulsing the blender until the mixture maintains the consistency of a slushie. Feel free to garnish the drink with any mint leaves you have leftover.