Today (July 24) is national tequila day and we believe you need to celebrate holidays appropriately. This means to make a mean, refreshing cocktail. Here’s three of our favorites right now as well as tips on how to choose the best tequila for you.
1 1/2 ounces Casa Noble tequila
1/2 ounce FOS Mastiha liqueur
1 ounce cucumber juice & honeydew melon
1/2 ounce lime juice
3 shiso leaves
Combine all ingredients in a shaker, add ice and shake vigorously.
Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass.
Garnish with cucumber slice.
2 parts reposado tequila
3/4 parts agave nectar
1 part fresh lime juice
4 fresh pineapple chunks (per serving)
2 basil leaves (per serving)
Fresh basil leaf and pineapple wedge for garnish
Muddle pineapple and basil in a shaker. Add ice and the wet ingredients and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with pineapple and basil.
3 parts blanco tequila
1 part blue Curaçao
1 part fresh pineapple juice
Maraschino cherry for garnish
Pour the ingredients into a shaker and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.
How to Choose Your Tequila
Gold, Joven, Mixto, Oro
It’s not a true category; it’s just where the lesser tequilas get lumped. All the tequilas worth talking about are produced from 100 percent agave; however, a distilled spirit from the region that contains 51 percent agave can legally be called tequila. These are the well brands with which most margaritas are made. This category is home to most “gold” tequilas, or mixtos (also known as joven and oro), because colorings, flavorings, and cheaper alcohols are mixed in to fill the other half of the bottle. (Confusingly, some gold brands are 100 percent agave tequila, combining a quality blanco with reposado or añejo, so they are actually very good.) Why drink? If you’re having a mixed drink where the tequila taste is going to get overpowered anyway, this will save money.
Blanco, Silver, White, Plata, Platinum
After distilling, tequila can go straight to bottling, but more often it sits in vats to mellow. Tequila that sits for less than two months is classified as blanco, also known as silver, white, plata, and platinum. This is the agave spirit in its purest form. It’s clear, naturally sweet, and has a spicy, peppery bite. Why drink? This is what tequila tastes like, and it’s wonderful. A bottle of blanco is usually a few dollars cheaper than its reposado counterpart.
Reposado means “restful” and represents the category for tequilas that have been aged more than two months but less than a year. This is the most popular category because the tequila has had time to mellow but still retains its true agave flavor. These tequilas can be stored in tanks, but most end up in small, wood barrels. Those in wood start to take on a golden hue and will pick up the flavor of the container. If it’s a new oak barrel, you get that slightly woody smoothness. If the barrel is charred, you get a smoky flavor. If it was previously used to age bourbon, cognac, or wine, it takes on that flavor. Why drink? The barrel aging helps mellow the spirit without killing the tequila taste. For most tequila lovers, this is the favorite.
Añejo means old and is used to describe tequilas that are aged longer. These are tequilas stored in barrels for one to three years. Most of these barrels previously stored other spirits (mostly bourbon but sometimes even other tequilas), so the extended time causes the tequila to take on a darker amber color, and the flavors become smoother, richer, and more complex. You have to be careful here, though, as the true tequila flavor can start to get lost. Why drink? These are definitely meant to be sipped, savored, and appreciated. No shots here, please. The complex flavors pair well with foods and cigars, very similar to bourbon.
These “ultra-aged” tequilas follow the same rules as añejos except they remain in barrels for more than three years, thus taking on a much darker mahogany color. At this point you lose much of the tequila flavor, but you gain a luxurious spirit that is smooth and complex. Sometimes much older tequilas are blended with the three-year-old batches to “speed along” the process. Why drink? If you enjoy high-quality, aged spirits, this is tequila’s offering.