July 24 is National Tequila Day, which means for most of us, July 25 is National Hungover Time. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
This year, why not celebrate one of Mexico’s greatest exports by practicing the right way to enjoy tequila? In other words, sip it. Because if you shoot tequila with salty lick and squeeze of lime, you’re doing it wrong.
David Alan, manager of trade education and mixology at Patrón Tequila, told The Huffington Post that the tendency toward tequila shots is a remnant of days “when crappy tequila dominated the market.” He added, “The shooting ritual was a quick way to get it down the hatch so you didn’t have to taste it. You don’t need salt and lime anymore because there’s so much good tequila on the market.”
But how do you pick the best ones to sip?
Avoid mixtos tequilas; they’re fermented with a mix of blue agave cactus and other sugars, such as cane or grain alcohol, and tend to be rough stuff. Instead, seek out tequilas made completely from agave — they’re much smoother.
After that, Alan said, it’s taster’s choice.
“People who like something that’s more zesty and spicy generally go for blanco or silver tequilas,” which are virtually un-aged and retain the punchy agave flavors, Alan says.
If you want something with more of a woody flavor, look for color in reposado tequilas, which are aged 2 to 12 months in oak barrels, or añejos, which are aged 1 to 4 years.
“The longer you age the tequila, the less agave profile you taste, and the more wood influence you taste,” Alan said, adding that a lot of drinkers consider reposado tequilas to be “the perfect balance of agave flavor and barrel influence.”
But just because a reposado tequila is more expensive doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better.
“To me, a sipping tequila is a tequila that tastes good out of the glass when sipped on its own,” Alan added. “Why would I want any tequila on my back bar that you couldn’t sip or that didn’t taste good on its own?”
If you’re still not into sipping, below are some cocktail recipes to help make your National Tequila Day one to remember. Just drink responsibly, and you’ll remember it.
Mango Jalapeño Margaritas
2 ounces Grand Marnier
1 1/2 ounces jalapeño tequila
2 ounces lime juice
2 1/2 ounces mango simple syrup
1/2 mango, peeled and chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, sliced
salt for the rim
For jalapeño tequila: add 2 sliced jalapeños to a large jar or container and cover with 1 1/2 cups of tequila. Let sit for 24 hours, then strain before using. Keep in a sealed container for a few weeks, preferably in the fridge.
For mango simple syrup: combine equal parts sugar and water (I suggest 1 cup of each), bring to a boil and let sugar dissolve, then turn off heat and let cool completely. Combine 1 cup simple syrup + 1/2 mango (peeled and cubed) in a blender and blend until combined.
To make the margaritas, rim the ridge of your glass with a lime wedge and dip in margarita salt. Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, grand marnier, simple syrup and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour over ice and squeeze in lime slices. I also took a few of the jalapeños from the tequila and removed the seeds, then toss them in the margarita.