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Tequila: Worth A Serious Sip

Tequila is the worst thing you can do to the end of a great evening. It is the party ender, the last nail in the coffin. That's what we all think about the national spirit of our southern neighbor, Mexico. I'm not quite sure how Tequila landed "closer" status but I believe it deserves a revival. Tequila needs to get promoted to "first string." Whether it's an old classic like the Tequila Sunrise, a new cocktail like the Mexican Car Bomb, or you're drinking it neat, there's a flavor for everyone.

Margaritas and Palomas are two of my favorite Tequila cocktails to have on a hot day. They're simple to make and so darn good. Have you ever had Jarrito's Toronja grapefruit soda mixed with Partida Reposado? It's sublime, the perfect combination of effervescence and spirit. How about Don Julio Blanco shaken with Grand Marnier and fresh lime juice? It's simply amazing. I'm a firm believer in "the simpler, the better". That way you can appreciate each ingredient rather than disguising them with a myriad of flavors. Maybe that's why I enjoy sipping a nice Anejo (aged a minimum of 1 year, but less than 3 years in small oak barrels) or Reposado Tequila (aged a minimum of 2 months, but less than 1 year in oak barrels) at room temperature from a snifter. I guess I'm a purist at heart when it comes to Tequila.

Corzo Anejo is a great candidate for your everyday drinking Tequila with it's soft elegant mouthfeel, honey notes, floral overtones and toasty oak finish. You're not going to find that nasty burn you get from a lesser-quality well-known brand. Nobody likes it when you make that "Tequila face" anyway.

If you like the finer things in life and don't mind shelling out some change on a fancy bottle, I'd suggest Don Julio 1942. I feel that the 1942 is the best quality Tequila on the market for the money. It's complexity is only matched by its beauty. The ultra-mellow mouthfeel is followed by notes of vanilla, caramel and agave laced with brown sugar and cinnamon. The finish is long and soft with just a dusting of pepper spice. I've won a lot of "my-Tequila-is-better-than-yours" arguments with DJ 1942.

I take pride in showing people that there is always something else that's delicious out there in the world of bottled spirits. You just have to step out of your comfort zone and give it that old college try. Who knows, Tequila might end up being your friend rather than a foe. So next time the festivities begin and you're in a restaurant or bar that has a decent selection, let Tequila take a swing first and maybe let Vodka take a seat in the dugout and sit this one out. My advice would be to ask the bartender what he or she recommends. What I usually do is just pick out a brand that I haven't heard of before. The way I look at it that it's worth the education.

Pour. Taste. Drink. 

Jeff Marron has worked in the liquor industry for nearly 20 years specializing in boutique wines artisan spirits, and craft beers, and is currently half of the duo behind Saugatuck Grain & Grape. Jeff also writes a blog on artisan spirits and can be followed on twitter @depepperguy & @grainNgrape

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Reader Comments (4)

Nice job, Jeff! Not that I'm biased or anything. :)

May 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMSquared

Better tequila is absolutely worth the money, both from a standpoint of taste and in the avoidance of hangovers. I have it on good authority that better tequilas go through a special process to strain out the tiny demons with hammers and pitchforks that inhabit one's brain after a few rounds with Pepe Lopez.

Some of my favorites are Cabo Wabo (visible above), the aforementioned Don Julio and Chinaco, usually taken with rocks or neat.

May 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJ.G.

I am a tequila neophyte, good to understand the differences between the different styles. I usually splurge on other spirits, but may now have to upgrade my Sauza (for margaritas) to something like a DJ to sip.

Would also love to learn more about mezcals, but that may be getting ahead of myself!

May 4, 2011 | Registered CommenterAmy Kundrat

Good story; fantastic shop! I visited it for the first time yesterday (bought a bottle of Siete Leguas Reposado). Interesting, this particular tequila is made in the distillery where Patron was originally made. As Patron grew, they outgrew the distillery and struck out on their own. Sadly, they also pursued the market through branding instead of quality -- the Patron of the last decade or so is decent, but completely lacking in character. If you want to taste the depth of character and quality of the original Patron, pick up Siete Leguas!!

I also wrote an article about finding and selecting good tequilas. Some folks might find it interesting: What is good tequila? (

I'd say that letting a bartender choose can be dangerous; the key is to specify "A 100% blue agave tequila, please?" and "No Cuervo or Sauza". Cuervo and Sauza do make good products; but the market in North America is very much dominated by their mediocre (Sauza Commemorativa) to down right awful (Cuervo Gold) products.

May 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbbum

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