With Memorial Day weekend just a moment away, we are gearing up for summer with one of our favorite warm weather spirits, tequila. This week JBE will be joining with our friends at The Wine Rack in Louisville for a tutorial in all things tequila.
On my last visit to Mexico, I toured a small tequila distillery and saw the behind the scenes process for making this beloved spirit of Mexico. Flavor profiles are as unique to regions as they are to bourbon in the bluegrass. I recommend visiting a distillery if you have the chance and tasting as many different tequilas as you can to discover what your favorite is. So move past your college memories of a night gone wrong on tequila and step into the delicious world of agave with us.
Tequila is a spirit that is distilled from the agave plant. Your tequila should be 100% agave with no added sugars for the fermentation. This will be listed on the bottle. There are several different ages of tequila and each have distinct flavor profiles. Tasting tequila is much like any other spirit, best served neat in an appropriate glass with sips, not shots. When you order a shot of tequila out at a bar or restaurant, there are a couple of ways to order. One way is just neat in a shot glass and it is served room temperature and “naked”. The other is “dressed”, which is when the tequila is served cold and with a lime. However you order it, these are your options for tasting.
Tequila Blanco or Silver Tequila
This tequila is at least 70 proof and is bottled without aging. It is best for cocktails and mixed drinks and has a clean, sweet flavor from the agave.
Tequila Reposado or Aged Tequila
After distilling, this tequila is placed in oak barrels for at least two months. The aging gives the tequila a golden color and adds the flavor of the oak. It is a great tequila for sipping neat or on the rocks. It is also good in cocktails where a stronger flavor profile is needed.
Tequila Anejo or Extra Aged Tequila
Much like the reposado, this tequila is also placed in oak barrels to age. Anejo is aged at least one year in the barrel. The barrel gives this tequila a lovely golden caramel hue and is smooth sipping with a smoky profile. Served best neat or on the rocks, it is to be enjoyed much like a good sipping whiskey.
Extra Anejo or Ultra Aged Tequila
With a minimum three years in the barrel, this tequila is the most robust of the others. Best served on the rocks or neat with a drop or two of water to open the tequila up and release the flavors.
Margaritas and Cocktails
The most common way to have tequila is through margaritas. We love a good margarita at JBE, but cocktails are where our passions lie. The recipe below is our version of a Paloma and is a favorite for those hot summer days when the porch is calling.
1.5 ounces grapefruit juice
1.5 ounces good silver tequila
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2-1 ounce Grapefruit Soda or Tonic Water
Equal parts Kosher Salt and sugar for rim
Rub a wedge of lime around the rim of a highball glass and dip in salt and sugar mix. Fill glass with ice. Place first four ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain contents over ice, finish with grapefruit soda or tonic water and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge.
There is little we love better at JBE than an adult slush. It is the very best batch cocktail and if there happens to be any leftover, it goes right back in the freezer for later (that doesn’t happen very often). This recipe is our favorite for those hot days at the beach in your insulated cup or poolside with friends.
Cucumber Mint Slush
3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, roughly chopped
Juice from 5 limes, zest from 2 of them
2 Tbs fresh mint, minced
1 cup Honey Syrup*
3 cups Tequila
Mint for Garnish
Place cucumbers, lime juice, & zest into a blender. Process until smooth (this may need to be done in batches). Press puree through a fine mesh strainer, catching juice in a 2 quart plastic container with a lid. Be sure to press on solids to extract all juice. Add honey syrup and tequila and stir. Freeze. Scoop into glasses. Finish with tonic water and stir. Garnish with mint.
*Honey syrup is made with 3/4 cup honey and 1 cup hot water.
We would love to see all of you for the tasting event this week. Stop by and have a cocktail with us. Happy Summer, friends!