In Mexico people often drink Tequila straight, sometimes with a side of Sangrita. Drinking Tequila straight is not a lot different to drinking good whiskey. Drink out of a snifter glass at room temperature or on rocks. Unlike wine, there is no need to swirl the glass to release the aromas – they will become more prominent as you drink. Outside Mexico, however, it’s common for tequila to be served as a shot, along with salt and a slice of lime or lemon. These additions help to compensate for the harshness of lower-quality tequila.
Although tequila has worn the reputation of party drink for some time, there are many ways to drink it without making your head feel like a piñata the morning after. Here are three of our favourites:
Method 1 of 3: Sipping Neat, Enjoying Slowly
Choose a tequila that is made from 100% agave.
If you are planning on sipping your tequila and enjoying it like most Mexicans do, be sure to choose 100% Agave Tequila.
- Many bartenders and tequila experts recommend choosing a family-owned tequila over a large conglomerate. If you can find a tequila that’s part of a small, family-owned business, chances are overwhelming that it will be 100% agave, and simply that it will taste better.
Choose an Añejo tequila. Because añejo tequilas are aged for at least a year, they make for better sipping than a tequila that is rushed to maturity or those that are front-loaded with tequila flavor but lack any body or complexity to round it out. These añejos are often compared to aged cognac.
- Añejos tend to be more expensive than reposados or blancos, but not outrageously so. You should be able to find a good añejo for under $90.
- Drink añejos at room temperature. Adding ice to it dilutes the flavour and can mask the tequila’s different components.
- If you become serious about sipping tequila, consider getting a tequila glass to enjoy your añejo in. Many also enjoy the tequila in a snifter.
Enjoy your tequila with a little bit of sangrita. “Sangrita” means “little blood” in Spanish, called this way because of the color of the liquid. The sangrita is non-alcoholic. Pair the sangrita with your sipping tequila in a separate shot glass and take turns sipping the tequila and sangrita. To make sangrita, mix together, then refrigerate:
- 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1 cup tomato juice (not V-8)
- 1 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1 tsp grenadine
- 12 dashes hot sauce — e.g., Tabasco
Follow the sipping protocol. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys the thought of sipping tequila the right way, here are some tips on how the experts enjoy their vintage tequila.
- Pour about one ounce of tequila in a tequila glass or snifter. Hold the glass at the stem (not the bowl), raise the glass to eye level and look at the tequila’s colour.
- Swirl the tequila gently in its glass. Note how the tequila clings to the walls of the glass, looking for the “string of pearls” effect.
- Take a small sip, swishing the tequila around in your mouth for about 10 seconds, letting the alcohol travel over different parts of your tongue.
Method 2 of 3: Shooting Tequila, Imbibing Quickly
Shoot with salt and lime. The salt-and-lime method of shooting tequila has been around for a while, though it’s not clear that it’s a popular way of shooting tequila in Mexico. One report suggests that the oldest known mention of the salt-and-lime technique, from 1924, reverses the order: First lime, then tequila, then salt. Either way, it’s a popular way of shooting tequila, even if it’s detested by snobs the world ’round. Here’s how:
- Lick the skin between your thumb and index finger. Shake a little bit of salt on your skin, which should stick to the moisture.
- With a tequila shot and lime wedge in hand, lick the salt on your hand and shoot the tequila. Try to get the tequila down in one gulp if you can. You are shooting it, after all.
- As a “chaser,” suck on the lime wedge after shooting the tequila. The acidity of the lime won’t taste as sharp after the alcohol.
Method 3 of 3: Mixing Tequila, In a Cocktail
Enjoy your tequila in a classic margarita. A margarita can be frozen or classic. If you really want to savor the flavor of the tequila, go for a classic margarita, as the frozen margaritas are laden with sugar and water. To make a great margarita, follow this recipe:
- Pour the following ingredients into a cocktail shaker half-full with ice:
- 2 oz. blanco, oro, or reposado tequila
- 1/2 oz. orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple-Sec
- 1 oz. freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 oz. agave nectar sweetener
- Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds and strain into cocktail glass with a salted rim.
Enjoy your tequila in a “tequini,” or tequila martini. A tequini takes all the sophistication and class of a martini and squeezes a little bit of fun into the mix. Imbiber beware, however, because this brother is boozy! Turn the tequini into a sweeter tequini by using a reposado tequila and sweet vermouth.
- Into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, mix:
- 2 1/2 oz blanco tequila
- 1/2 oz dry vermouth
- Dash of Angostura bitters
- Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds and strain into a martini glass.
- Garnish with an olive, lemon twist, or jalapeno pepper.
Enjoy your tequila in a tequila sunrise. Called “tequila sunrise” because of the layering of red and orange, this recipe is another reminder that tequila and citrus make a really nice pairing.
- In a highball glass with ice, pour in:
- 2 oz. blanco, oro, or reposado tequila
- Enough orange juice to fill the glass almost to the top.
- Stir ingredients, and then dip two dashes of grenadine syrup into the drink by tilting the glass slightly and funneling the syrup quickly down the side. The grenadine should sink to the bottom and slowly rise through the drink.
- Garnish with stirrer, straw, and cherry-orange.
Try a twist on a Bloody Mary, called a vampira. This is also sometimes called a “Bloody Maria.” The vampira cocktail is a Mexican twist on the classic bloody Mary recipe. It’s light and spicy, and manages to be original without betraying the essence of the prototype.
- Fill a 10-ounce glass with ice. Into the glass, pour:
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 oz. blanco tequila
- 1 teaspoon Mexican hot sauce, e.g. Cholula
- 1 oz. Clamato
- 1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Top up the drink with Mexican Squirt or another grapefruit soda, and garnish with a lemon wheel.