five things you should know about Tequila

We celebrated National Margarita Day on February 22nd with a salute to the Margarita (one of my favourite cocktails), the alcohol that forms its foundation, and the place where it is made.

tequila-in-margaritas

Tequila is the primary ingredient in every Margarita, which can then be flavoured with any number of ingredients such as lime (the traditional and original flavour of the Margarita), peach, mango, banana chocolate, and more!

5 things you should know about Tequila in Mexico

  1. Tequila is not just the name of an alcoholic beverage! Tequila is also the name of a pueblo (small city) of 25-30,000 inhabitants–depending on who you ask–located 56 kms/35 miles northwest of Guadalajara and 147 kms/92 miles northeast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Tequila (the place) has been made famous by claiming creation of Tequila (the liquor) made from the agave plant and establishing a patent on the name of its namesake product just as the town of Champagne has done in France with respect to the bubbly wine that must be called Sparkling Wine or some other name if it is made anywhere other than in Champagne. Tequila is a historic colonial town with a UNESCO World Heritage site designation. A beautiful cathedral and plaza mark the centre of town, and a trendy new hotel overlooks the goings on, enabling you to discover this Pueblo Magico (magical town) in style.
tequila-mexico

The central plaza in Tequila, Mexico, boasts a lovely church, market, and gathering place for people.

solar-de-las-animas

We stayed at the Solar de Las Animas, a new boutique hotel in Tequila that is owned by the Jose Cuervo Company. The hotel has a beautiful roof-top dining area that overlooks the town square and cathedral.

more about Tequila in Mexico

2. All Tequilas are not created equal. Jose Cuervo is the largest Tequila company in Mexico, boasting a 30% market share of tequila shares. They make several kinds of Tequila to fit every budget: Clasico (the cheapest grade that is generally under two months old), Silver/Blancho (Tequila that is two months old), Tradicional/Especial (two-months to one-year-old Tequila that is generally used in the making of cocktails), and the Reserva (considered to be the best grade, is amber brown in colour, has been aged for three to seven years, and very smooth as it goes down and warms your throat.) Don’t waste the Reserva in a cocktail. Drink it straight in a shooter glass.

blue-agave

We had the pleasure of touring Jose Cuervo’s agave plantation, and received a demonstration on how the agave ‘pineapple’ is extracted from the ground and cleaned before it is taken to the processing plant.

3. Tequila is made from the blue agave agave plant. The agave plant is a perennial succulent that can reach more than two metres (seven feet) in height. Tequila alcohol is only made from the blue agave plant, also known as the agave tequilana variety as it grows primarily in the Jalisco region of Mexico. It takes about six years for the agave plants to get to the size shown in the photo above, when they can then be harvested to make tequila. The pulp of each medium-sized agave pineapple will make about seven litre-sized bottles of tequila.

tequila-in-mexico

I don’t think there is any other liquor that comes in as many different kinds of bottles than tequila. You can get really ornate mouth-blown glass bottles, and fun ceramic bottles like cowboy boots and Day of the Day statuettes.

cuervo-tequila

Collectors may be interested to learn that Jose Cuervo offers a limited edition special boxed bottle of its finest Reserva de la Familia tequila that is housed is a unique piece of art commissioned each year. Have fun discovering the finest tequila in Mexico.

4. Tequila in Mexico really is a way of life for the average person. Just as in Russia where a good percentage of Russians have a shot of vodka daily and in France or Italy where the daily choice might be red wine, most Mexicans have a daily shot of tequila, whether it comes in the form of a straight shot, a mixed drink, a cocktail like the world-renown Margarita, in cooking, or infused into chocolate.

tequila-in-mexico

Yep! That’s me enjoying a tequila in Mexico in the form of a Cazuela–an unsuspecting bowl of chopped fruit with juice and ice that you pour a shot of straight tequila into. It was delicioso!

5. But for most of us gringos/gringas, tequila can make us do pretty crazy things. Think of the songs, “You and Tequila Make Me Crazy” by Kenny Chesney, “Wasting Away in Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet, “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” by Joe Nichols, “Jose Cuervo” by Shelly West, and “It’s Another Tequila Sunrise” by the Eagles as just a few tunes of the great tunes that have immortalized tequila. There are actually 35 songs about tequila listed here.

Do you have any of your own special tequila moments that you’d care to share? We all know it’s not polite to drink alone, so let’s indulge together. Happy National Margarita Day!

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

62 Responses

  1. Donna Janke
    Twitter:
    says:

    Other than in a margarita, I’ve never particularly cared for tequila. While that may be partly because of fear of the crazy things it makes us gringas do, I suspect it may also be because I haven’t sampled some of the higher quality tequilas. The central plaza area in Tequila looks charming and I love the varied bottles. “It’s Another Tequila Sunrise” is playing in my head right now and making me feel almost as if I am somewhere hot.

    • Hi Donna, and thanks for your comment. Indeed, the quality of the tequila makes a huge impact in the taste. Think about the cheap rye vs Crown Royal and you get the picture. I’m glad I’ve put Tequila Sunrise in your head. It’s one of my favourite songs. Cheers!

  2. lenie
    Twitter:
    says:

    Doreen, that last picture of you enjoying the cazuela is wonderful – it looks really delicious. I have never tasted tequila which is probably just as well since I can get pretty giggly on just on white wine spritzer – hate to think what tequila could do.
    This was a fascinating history that I had never heard before. I really do enjoy your stories.
    lenie recently posted…Vegetable Gardens for Small Space GardenersMy Profile

  3. Sabrina Quairoli
    Twitter:
    says:

    Doreen, I love tequila! My favorite is Silver which was an aged tequila. It is so smooth. I am not a big drinker because it upsets my stomach but because tequila is made with Agave, it doesn’t bother me as much. I found this out a few years ago. My brother bought me a more popular brand and it was hard to drink. I am going to stick with my aged one. =)
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Philly Home Show Highlights From A Professional OrganizerMy Profile

  4. How fortunate we were to visit Tequila and have such different experiences. I hope to raise a glass in a toast with you one day.
    Elaine J. Masters recently posted…Visiting a magical village on the Tequila TrailMy Profile

  5. Esther
    Twitter:
    says:

    Maybe someday I’ll give tequila another try. I had a taste some years back in Mexico, and I recall something about salt, lime, and a worm…? But lately I have problems dealing with a half glass of wine. *sigh*
    But, this is a great story, Doreen. Sounds like you enjoyed another awesome adventure.
    Esther recently posted…Finding Safety in My SkinMy Profile

  6. I’m not a tequila fan other than in a margarita. That said, some years ago my husband came across an aged tequila–totally different taste and I like sipping it once in a while. Sounds like another great trip.
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…No Place Is Too Far AwayMy Profile

  7. Phoenicia
    Twitter:
    says:

    I tend to steer clear clear of mixed drinks as they have the most effect on you. I have heard many a story about those who mixed their drinks – none are pretty. I ocassionally drink red and white wine over a meal.

    Cocktails always look rather chic when presented in pretty glassware. A definite female drink!
    Phoenicia recently posted…How much do you value your time?My Profile

    • Hi Phoenicia. Generally, the cocktails are safe, as they have lots of juice or other ingredients in them. It’s the drinks that are just the liquor and a small amount of mixer (pop) that can send you under (or on top of!) the table. Cheers!

  8. Suzanne Boles
    Twitter:
    says:

    Very cool Tequila trivia. I especially loved your list of Tequila-related songs.

  9. Linda
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love tequila in just about any way I’ve ever had it. Straight up, without the stupid lime and salt tongue deadeners thank you, or in a drink like ‘rita or T. Sunrise. Yummy. As much as I love the beverage, I knew very little about how Agave grows or is harvested. This was a delightful post! Thanks for the education.
    Linda recently posted…After the War; Langen, GermanyMy Profile

  10. Ken Dowell
    Twitter:
    says:

    I knew you’d get to the chocolate part. Tequila infused chocolate? Served best, I’m sure, with spicy Mexican chocolate.

  11. Wow–quite the fact-finding mission you’ve been on, and it looks like you enjoyed it! I love blue agave syrup as an alternative to honey or maple syrup, and never knew that the tequila came from the same plant. Just shows that you learn something new everyday.

  12. Nastia says:

    Wow! This is amazing! Never knew tequila was made of Agave (well, I new it was some kind of cactus, but still). This post goes to my “today I learned” section, definitely!

  13. I had no clue about these things. I mean, I knew that tequila (for them) is like water but the other topics are pretty amazing. Have a good National Margarita Day 🙂
    Marta Cunha Grilo recently posted…Where does my inspiration come from?My Profile

  14. Jeri
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great post on my next favorite beverage after wine. I’ve been gradually getting into learning more about tequila, and it’s good to see you’ve covered the basics here. I think just might have to make a margarita to go with dinner tonight 😉
    Jeri recently posted…#WriteTip: How to Write a Book BlurbMy Profile

  15. Kathy Andrew
    Twitter:
    says:

    OoooH I want to go there!! It looks fantastic Doreen. Sounds like a great place to visit. Thanks for a great post with great photos.

  16. Erin
    Twitter:
    says:

    First of all, I LOVE that I now know it is National Margarita Day! Even though it’s getting late here in Austria, I’m tempted to run out just to grab tequila – gotta celebrate right? Secondly, that Cazuela looks absolutely delicious! I would love to make that at home during the summer – seems like the perfect drink! What a great post – loved learning so many fun facts about tequila. Cheers!
    Erin recently posted…A 5 Day Itinerary for an Off-Season Trip to ParisMy Profile

  17. Tequila was my drink of choice in my younger days – specifically shots of Reserva with a Dos Equis back. But that was at home. We also used to spend a lot of time racing our Hobie Cat down in Baha and down there it was mescal with that stupid worm in the bottle. Ah, the memories! Ugh, the hangovers!!!
    Marquita Herald recently posted…An Often Overlooked Building Block to Emotional ResilienceMy Profile

  18. Beverly says:

    Wow! What an interesting article. It makes me want to have a margarita right now. Also, what a beautiful part of the world that part of Mexico is. Thanks for showing it to us, Doreen.

  19. Susan Cooper
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Doreen, I’m sure there are a plethora of tequila stories people could share, but probably choose not to. Lol. I thought the tequila infused chocolate sounded interesting (of course). Would like to sample that. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…1000 Stories Wines Zinfandel: #WineMy Profile

  20. Catarina says:

    It’s really been a long time since I had tequila or even a marguarita. Interesting to know that Tequila is a pueblo in Mexico. Have to admit I didn’t know that.
    Catarina recently posted…Have you ever gone straight from success to failure?My Profile

  21. Pat says:

    I do love a strawberry margarita in the summer and I loved those bottles it came in!! Some of the song choices are also special and remembered. Enjoyed your article.

  22. Hung Thai
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks Doreen 🙂 – I’m a fan of tequila. I attended a tequila tasting party a while back with some 50 brands – i think after the 10th shot I couldn’t tell what I was tasting anymore 🙂
    Hung Thai recently posted…Why we decided to do a destination wedding and why you should tooMy Profile

  23. Doreen — I do have a tequila story. Many years ago when I was a lot younger and more foolish I visited Mexico with a girlfriend. We met some Mexicans who showed us the fine art of drinking shots of tequila. As I recall, (and I may have these in the wrong order), you shake some salt on the back of your hand, then you suck a piece of lime, lick the salt from your hand and down the shot of tequila. We had more than a few to our regret. Tequila packs quite a wallop!
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Are You Like a Charging Bull in Selling to Your Prospects?My Profile

    • Absolutely, Jeannette! I think quite a few of us have similar recollections of being indoctrinated into the world of tequila in Mexico! I think that now, at this stage of life, we are appreciating that moderation is the key to enjoyment, and that quality of flavour and ingredients is key to enjoy vs quantity! Thx for stopping by and sharing your memories with us.

  24. ChinWe
    Twitter:
    says:

    Oh wow! Never tried Tequila before. I will give it a try next time we are out. I will let u know x

    • Thanks for your comment. I think that tequila is an acquired taste. Drinking it straight is not for the faint-at-heart. But in cocktails like a Margarita or Tequila Sunrise, you can still appreciate the unique flavour without it knocking you over. Enjoy!

  25. Chris
    Twitter:
    says:

    We hoped that we’d like the good quality Tequila from Tequila a little more than the stuff we appreciate back home.

    Turns out we didn’t… LOL

    To be a little more specific from your excellent rundown, it is in fact only the Blue Agave that is used for Tequila, otherwise it is just Mezcal.

    Another thing to remember is all Tequila is technically Mezcal, but not all Mezcal is Tequila! 😉
    Chris recently posted…Canon del ColcaMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Indeed, Chris. I do mention in point 3 that tequila is made from the blue agave. In addition to Mezcal being made from other varietals of agave, I learned about Raicia, which is another liquor made from agave that is much like tequila. Sorry you didn’t find a tequila you liked. The really high-end stuff is quite palatable, but not too affordable. I was lucky to try it, but couldn’t afford to buy it. Cheers!

  26. Lauren
    Twitter:
    says:

    It’s funny because I only thought of tequila really as an alcoholic beverage before I read your article! Thanks so much for all of the interesting insights 🙂 I like tequila in beverages but i’m not one to do a shot of it!
    Lauren recently posted…Venice 3 Day ItineraryMy Profile

  27. Such interesting facts! I love the background story and found this fascinating. I will never look at margaritas the same way again! 🙂
    The Educational Tourist recently posted…Oklahoma Aquarium: Tulsa VisitMy Profile

  28. Interesting read, Doreen. I had no idea Tequila was a pueblo, but I am not surprised. I already knew some of the other facts you mentioned in your article, but having so many songs about Tequila seems hilarious. I imagine they must have been composed ‘under the influence’ of this beverage.

  29. bmjuwelen says:

    I love tequila. Cool facts 🙂

  30. Sushmita
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thumbs up! Thanks, for sharing the amazing facts! Love Tequila

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