We all know that sickening feeling after relentless lashings of loud mouth soup; the shakes, the nausea, the barbwire-like brain, the birds tweeting outside at terrifying volumes; all coming in waves like a pervert surfer. And what normally gets the blame for echoing the “never again” look of the part-time alcoholic? Well those shots you felt indebted to inhale, in particular the little golden fellas accompanied by the obligatory bite of lemon and lick of salt.
Of course, it’s bollocks. Tequila alone wouldn’t make you feel that way but the taste of the shit we gulp here makes us think it’s the culprit. Let’s face it even the smell is enough to make a grown man’s bottom lip wobble — that’s because the tequila we drink is rarely the “real deal”.
A lot of what we guzzle in the UK is brought to us by one type of José Cuervo tequila and unfortunately it doesn’t taste, or have the effect, of the traditional Mexican drink. José Cuervo are currently trying to get away from their party drink image, both here and abroad, but perhaps their time would be better spent importing their more superior line of tequila to Blighty. So amigos can taste how it’s supposed to be, sí?
But why do the tequila shots we knock back make us gag? Well tequila is produced using the Blue Agave plant and according to Mexican law the drink must contain 51% of the plant in order for it to be labelled tequila. The remaining parts can be made up other liquids (!?) and sugars. The José Cuervo sold in most pubs and clubs in Britain is their Gold version which is a “mixto tequila” meaning 51% is made from the Blue Agave plant, the rest is fermented by cheaper sugar sources. Mmm.
So hombre, to experience tequila that won’t make you cry, during or after, you’ll either need to visit a specialist bar, or buy online. On the bottle’s label it has to state “100% De Agave” if it says this you’re going to get shit-faced, and feel great the next day (well, better than you would with the regular stuff). It’s well worth it señor.
José Cuervo does produce 100% De Agave tequilas in the form of their José Cuervo Tradicional and Reserva Familia, among others. But these spirits should be sipped rather than slammed, to savour their deep delicious flavours. The problem is they are not readily available in most pubs, clubs or even wine shops and supermarkets so you’ll need to go on the webnet to get hold of one. If you’re going to the trouble of getting an import why not look at other brands on specialist sites, like the Whisky Exchange, that offer an overwhelming array of tequilas ranging from a sensible £20 to recession-defying £300+.
Take note, it’s not just the 100% De Agave to take into account either, there are also five varieties to seek out — depending on what you’re after:
1) Blanco (white) or Plata (silver) – Not aged in barrels so is clear in appearance and meant to be drunk in shots, or used in cocktails. You’ll probably still experience a minor shudder from the smell as it’s not vintage, but you won’t be recoiling in horror the next day.
2) Joven (young) or Oro (gold) – A blending of tequilas (such as Reposado) which can be drunk in same way as Blanco. Just use lime or lemon to aid the taste, no need for the lick of salt.
3) Reposado (rested) – Is aged for a minimum of two months and has a superior taste, popularly used in cocktails.
4) Añejo (vintage) - Aged in oak barrels for a minimum of one year this should be sipped and has a taste similar to whisky. Can also be used in more expensive cocktails, if you’re that way inclined. Guaranteed dry eyes and a steady spine.
5) Extra Añejo (extra aged) – Rested in barrels for a minimum of three years, will cost a packet but it’s the bees’ bollocks. If drunk alone you’ll most likely wake up hangover-free noticing that you’re not praying to die like usual.
So don’t think of tequila as that golden gunk on the top shelf of your local that you dread to delve into; think of it as a drink with great depth and flavour and one that offers a superior pissedness. Oh, and when you buy a good bottle don’t expect a worm in there as sadly this is just a shameful marketing ploy.
One of the easiest and tastiest tequila cocktails to make is one invented by Don Javier Delgado Corona. All you will need is a bottle of Blanco or Plata tequila (100% De Agave only, have you been paying attention?), Coke, lime and some salt.
Get a tumbler, add ice cubes and pour in 50ml of tequila. Squeeze in the juice of one lime and fill the remainder with coke and stir with a pinch of salt. Boom! You got yo’self one tasty mummyeffin beverage.
(Sombrero, fake moustache and maracas optional, you may like to play this tune too)