Hold the SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS! And start swilling tequila like the suave amigo you are. That frat life is over. Black outs, eating the worm and Jell-O shooters are no bueno. Like fine wines, whiskeys and bourbons; a lot goes into making a tasty tequila and you should savor every sip. David Alan, Patrón’s Education and Mixology Manager, lends his expertise. “I advise people to stop thinking of it as just a party spirit—of course it is absolutely good fun to drink tequila, but you can do so with the respect that goes into making a product that takes the better part of a decade to produce.”
Put down the maracas and follow Alan’s tips for tequila toasting with sophistication.
Uno: Grow up. You’re not going to eat the worm, lick your hand or wince in pain. “There are a lot of what I like to call “operator errors” in people’s tequila-drinking habits, especially in the past like drinking cheap tequila, drinking too much tequila, and drinking tequila with a bunch of sugary commercial mixers also come to mind. The perception of how to drink tequila has changed radically since the late 1980s when Patrón debuted. Whereas it was once solely the province of shooters, frozen margaritas, beach vacations and big nights on
Bourbon St, now there is a lot more respect and reverence for the spirit. Don’t get me wrong—we are not out of the woods yet, as there is plenty of tequila abuse out there. With good quality tequilas, you can drink them neat, one sip at a time instead of throwing it back in one gulp. If you’re going to make cocktails, use good quality ingredients instead of artificial mixers. The Margarita is the most popular Tequila cocktail—make it with fresh lime juice and good quality orange liqueur like Patrón Citronge.
Dos: Serve it up. Tequila should be consumed however the drinker prefers, but here are some guidelines: The colder a spirit is, the less of the spirit’s complexities you can perceive. So serving it room temperature or slightly cooler allows you to really experience all of the flavors and aromas in the spirit. When most bars chill a shot of tequila, they shake it to death with ice, rendering it a cold but watery mess. I would rather drink it room temp, or if the bottle is on the warm side, put it in the fridge or freezer for a moment to cool it a bit. With aged tequilas, I think it is especially important to drink them in a glass that tapers at the top—think about a champagne flute, white wine glass, or small snifter—this really allows the tequila’s aromas to gather in the headspace of the glass for your enjoyment. If you prefer tequila on the rocks, use the biggest, coldest cubes you can find. There are countless silicone ice molds available for the home bartender or tequila enthusiast; I recommend these for sipping tequila “on a rock” or for a Tequila Old Fashioned.
A bottle of tequila, still sealed and stored out of extreme heat or sunlight, will last virtually forever. I have opened 20+year old bottles that are still vibrant and delicious. Once opened, the spirit does start to change, but it is a very slow change that will not be perceptible to most people if you drink the bottle within a couple of years. The lower the liquid level in the bottle, the more accelerated the change, as volatile compounds in the liquid interact with the oxygen in the bottle. The liquid tends to become less flavorful, less potent. Once open, enjoy it! Though it will technically never “spoil”, it will become less delicious the longer it is open.
Tres: Study up. What the heck is agave? What’s the difference between tequila and mescal? Tequila and Mezcal are related to each other, as tequila is descended from mezcal. Historically, all agave spirits of Mexico were loosely defined as “Mezcal” or “Vino de Mezcal”. In the 19th century, tequila started to emerge as a distinct type of mezcal—as it began to become a commercial product instead of a cottage industry, production increased, necessitating the development of different technologies to increase productivity. Tequila production methods pulled away from mezcal, modernizing in a way. The ancient method of cooking agaves in pit ovens in the ground evolved into the contemporary practice of roasting agaves in clay brick ovens that are heated by steam. The historical method of milling agaves with an axe or pestle had been phased out in favor of the tahona, which in turn was largely phased out by the introduction of the “roller mill”, a device originally developed to process sugar cane (out of 100+ tequila distilleries in Mexico, only about half a dozen still use the Tahona method. Patrón is committed to preserving this ancient method, and we have more tahonas working at any given time than in the rest of the industry combined). Over time, ancestral techniques like distilling in wooden, clay, or bamboo stills were replaced by the copper pot still, which is still used by some artisanal tequila producers such as Patrón, as much of the industry has moved to stainless steel pot stills or column stills which tend to produce less flavorful tequilas.
If you want to look at the history of tequila, you must look first at mezcal, as many of the traditional methods of production for agave spirits are still being practiced by mezcaleros today. To see the opposite end of that spectrum, look at a mass produced, low quality tequila and you will see the complete subversion of traditional processes—the introduction of sci-fi devices like the Diffusor have shown what dangers lie at the end of the long arc of modernization. Sometimes you can make a process so efficient that the product you’re making no longer resembles the thing that it started as, and that’s what we’re seeing with high tech tequila. At Patrón, we’ve grown our production by replicating our traditional processes time and again, essentially rebuilding the same distillery side by side, instead of switching to bigger or more technically advanced production methods.
Cuatro: Talk it up. Why not drop some knowledge at the bar?
Silver tequilas are generally un-aged. The aging protocol for tequila states that “Reposado” tequilas are aged 2-12 months; “Añejo” tequilas are aged 12-36 months, and “Extra Añejo” tequilas are aged over three years (there is theoretically no limit on the top end of aging, though over time the wood character will tend to take over and edge out the agave flavor, such that some extra-aged tequilas taste only faintly like agave, or not at all. A hallmark of the Patrón house style is that regardless of the age on the tequila, we don’t bottle anything that doesn’t still have a prominent agave profile.
What is best is a very subjective matter, and obviously I am biased towards our products! Likewise, there is no one solution for every tequila-drinking occasion. I love Margaritas, in the evening or during colder weather I think there is nothing better than a tequila Old Fashioned. Often I just drink tequila neat.
Cinco: Mix it up. Our CocktailLab.com tool has hundreds of recipes that have been vetted and tested. You can search by tequila, occasion, ingredient, flavor etc. so you can find a drink for any occasion.
My favorite drink is what we call the “Perfect Margarita,” using Patrón Reposado and Patrón Citronge Orange Liqueur. Served up in a stemmed glass, you can’t go wrong.
Perfect Patrón Margarita
1.5 oz. Patrón Reposado
1 oz. Patrón Citrónge Orange
.75 oz. Fresh lime juice
.25 oz. Simple syrup, to taste
+Lime wheel for garnish
+Kosher salt (optional)