Category: Our Videos

Don’t you just love change? Let’s face it, most of us don’t, which is why it can be downright scary when theres a change to your favorite tequila. When the bottle changes you can’t help but worry if the tequila has changed as well. One such case is the mega-popular Don Julio 1942, which saw a change to its bottle AND recipe a few years ago.
Don Julio 1942 Tequila Bottles Old and New
I first tasted Don Julio 1942 back around 2006. It came in a cool wooden “coffin” box and the bottle was tall and slightly rounded with an agave leaf shape blown into the glass. It had a blue label and a screw top. I drank this like a mad man for several years.

When they changed the bottle to the taller, darker brown design of today, I smelled it and realized it was different! To be honest, I got angry, and I childishly refused to drink it ever again!

I thought to myself: “Why did they mess with such a good thing?!”

Years go by, and after we launched the Tequila Matchmaker, we saw Don Julio 1942 shoot right up the charts to become the most popular tequila according to our users. All these people can’t be wrong, so we decided to give it another try. We wanted it to be absolutely fair, so we used the “blind rating” tool within the Tequila Matchmaker. This is a cool feature built into the app that makes it possible to rate a tequila without any biases.

We were shocked to discover that Scarlet and I both liked the NEW version better!

This was totally unexpected. When a tequila brand changes a bottle or recipe, it’s usually because they are trying to save some money at the expense of quality. But this was clearly not the case here.

The new Don Julio 1942 has a little more vanilla, and slightly more caramelized baked agave to the aroma. The older formula smells great, but the new stuff smells even better. The flavor is deeper, richer, rounder, and has a slightly cleaner finish.

We were so surprised by this that we had to get other people involved. So over the course of several months, we invited 12 different tequila enthusiasts to our house and gave them 2 glasses marked “A”, and “B”. We didn’t tell them what it was, and asked them to tell us “which do you like better?”

Only 8% said they liked both equally, while 25% said they liked the old stuff, and 67% said the new Don Julio 1942 was better. Validation!

Don Julio 1942 - Taste Test Results

Afterward, we told them what they had just tasted, and almost everyone was surprised.

So, the next time your favorite tequila changes something, don’t panic! Just remain calm, do your own blind taste test, because you may be pleasantly surprised.

We’d love to know what you think, too. Log into the Tequila Matchmaker and share your ratings with us!

– Grover

Did you know that tequila and beer are best friends? It’s totally true. They’ve been spotted hanging out with each other for many years, and in some of the coolest night spots in the world! The final installment of our 3-part series of beer & tequila cocktails uses two different types of tequila with Sofie Farmhouse Ale made by Goose Island.

The name of the cocktail is “Dueling Maestros” because it uses tequilas made at 2 very different distilleries. Both are very affordable tequilas that can also be enjoyed neat, and each bring unique qualities to the cocktail.

Our friend and cocktail genius Adam Stemmler of Blind Tiger Cocktail Co. shows us how to make this super refreshing, citrus-filled cocktail at the East Bay Spice Company, in Berkeley, California.

(Think of this cocktail as a high-end, super fancy michelada.)

Before you get started, have the following things on hand: A house-made grapefruit cordial; Cimarron Blanco tequila; Pueblo Viejo Reposado tequila; large format ice; Sofie Farmhouse Ale (or any citrus-forward beer); a grapefruit (for garnish).

Use this recipe and try making it at home.

Creating the grapefruit cordial:

-Fresh squeeze grapefruit juice, remove skins, and add the skins to the juice in a pot. Then add sugar, cinnamon, pink peppercorn, star anise, and a tiny bit of honey. Simmer slowly, then let cool. Strain into a container and refrigerate.

In a glass, add:

-1 ounce grapefruit cordial

-3/4 ounce Cimarron Blanco tequila

-3/4 ounce Pueblo Viejo Reposado tequila

 Add ice

 Slowly pour the Goose Island Sofie beer over the top, filling the remainder of the glass

 Stir gently

 Express a grapefruit peel across the top, and use for garnish

Enjoy, and if you make this one at home, please tell us about it!


Tequila & Beer Cocktail Series:

Part 1: “Portrait of a Sauza

Part 2: “Nobility and Malting

Part 3: Dueling Maestros


Tequila and beer – what a perfect pair! Both go so well together you can drink them side-by-side with a smile. In part 2 of our 3-part series of Beer & Tequila cocktails, we get fancy by creating a “beer reduction.” The resulting cocktail is called “Nobility and Malting”, and it’s absolutely stunning (and perfect for anyone who loves the smell and taste of chocolate.)

Our friend and cocktail madman Adam Stemmler of Blind Tiger Cocktail Co. knows how to create killer cocktails of any sort, but he especially loves to work with agave-based spirits like tequila and mezcal. I asked him if he ever uses beer as an ingredient in cocktails, and without missing a step he started serving them up for us to try. They were so good that we needed to create these videos so we (and you!) could make them at home.

We met up in Berkeley, California, at the East Bay Spice Company, and he showed us how to make this perfectly balanced, classy, beer-enhanced tequila cocktail!

What you’ll need: Casa Noble Reposado tequila, a beer reduction (made ahead of time, explained more below)

Make this cocktail! You will love it, we promise!

Creating the beer reduction:

-Add chocolate porter beer, sugar & cinnamon to a pot and simmer on low heat until it turns into a syrup. Place in a bottle, and let it cool.

Making the cocktail:

In a mixing glass combine:

-2 small pinches of Hepp’s Vanilla Bean Salt

-1/4 ounce beer reduction syrup

-1/8 ounce Frenet Branca

-2 ounces Casa Noble Reposado

 Add ice and stir.

 Strain into a cocktail glass.

 Express a lemon peel across the top for aromatics

 Garnish with 2 Maraschino Cherries on a stick

 Enjoy, and if you make this one at home, let us know how it turns out!


Tequila & Beer Cocktail Series:

Part 1: “Portrait of a Sauza

Part 2: Nobility and Malting

Part 3: “Dueling Maestros


We’ve often thought that beer and tequila make great drinking companions, and it turns out we’re not alone. One trend we’re starting to see on restaurant menus in California are “Beer and a Shot” – where a certain tequila is paired with a certain beer. Brilliant idea!

Taking that concept one step further, our friend and cocktail ninja Adam Stemmler of Blind Tiger Cocktail Co. created a few cocktails that use both tequila and beer as main ingredients. We met up in Berkeley, California, at the East Bay Spice Company, fired up the video cameras and he showed us how to make both of these ingredients live happily together in the same glass.

The first cocktail uses an old favorite, Fortaleza Añejo tequila, and is called “Portrait of a Sauza”, after Guillermo Sauza, the man behind the brand. The beer used is Pyramid Weiss Cream, which is a nitrogen-based beer that allows it to take the place of egg whites to create a foam layer on top.

Use this recipe and try making it at home.

In a shaker tin combine:

-3/4 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice

-3/4 ounce honey syrup (diluted 1:1 with water)

-2 ounces Fortaleza Añejo tequila

-1.5 ounces Pyramid Weiss Cream beer

-2 dashes Barkeep Fennel Bitters

 Add ice and shake.

 Double fine strain into a cocktail glass.

 Garnish with freshly-grated cinnamon and a few dots of Angustura Bitters.

 Enjoy, and if you make this one at home, please share your opinion below!


Tequila & Beer Cocktail Series:

Part 1: Portrait of a Sauza

Part 2: “Nobility and Malting

Part 3: “Dueling Maestros


We’ve never had to start off a story with a disclaimer before, but here it goes: DO NOT attempt to make this cocktail recipe at home. This is the “most dangerous tequila cocktail in the world.”

Luckily, we had Dustin Haarstad, a trained professional (and a bit of a pyromaniac) create this cocktail for us. He’s from Blind Tiger Cocktail Company and pulls these kinds of crazy cocktail stunts all the time.

We met up with Dustin at tequila mecca Cantina Mayahuel in San Diego. He showed us how to create a “Tequila Blue Blazer,” cocktail using tequila, mezcal, and a whole lot of fire.

Dustin used Siete Leguas reposado tequila and Del Maguey Vida Minero mezcal to create a combustible mixture that puts on quite a show.

Here’s the recipe, but don’t try this at home!

1) In a metal pitcher combine:

 - 1 ounce reposado tequila

 - 2 ounces of high-proof mezcal

2) In another metal pitcher add:

 - 2 ounces of boiling hot water

3) Use a long lighter to light the tequila/mezcal mixture and let it sit for a few seconds

4) CAREFULLY pour the flaming contents into the other pitcher and pass the liquid back and forth between them several times

5) Put the flame out by covering the top of the container with the liquid in it, taking away the oxygen needed to burn

6) Add the following ingredients:

 - 3/4 ounce of lime juice

 - a few dashes of bitters to create an added complexity

7) Mix the liquid again by passing it back and forth between the pitchers

8) Pour into a small brandy-snifter style glass and let it cool down a bit before serving

This cocktail is served warm and is great for cold days. It’s a nice, bright, flavorful tea-like cocktail that is not overpowered with alcohol.

Fall is definitely here – what better time than to hunker down at home with a fine tequila-based cocktail to warm the spirits? Yes, please!

Here at TasteTequila we are always looking for great tequila cocktail recipes, and we have to admit we don’t see very many on local San Francisco menus these days, probably because pisco and mezcal are the spirits de jour. Well, we say, give us more tequila!

Fortunately, our friend Adam Stemmler at Blind Tiger Cocktail Co. is a master at creating delicious and well-balanced cocktails using agave spirits. We had the fortune of meeting up with Adam at tequila mecca Cantina Mayahuel in San Diego not long ago. He showed us a tequila twist on a classic cocktail called “The Last Word,” which originally used gin.

Adam replaced the gin with Corazon blanco tequila, and magic was made.

Here’s the recipe if you want to try this at home.

In a shaker tin combine:

-1.5 ounces blanco tequila

-1 ounce green Chartreuse (a French cordial)

-1 ounce Maraschino Originale from Luxardo (an Italian cherry liqueur)

-1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

 Add ice and shake.

 Strain into a cocktail glass. (No garnish needed!)

 Enjoy!

Straight, sipping tequila is usually what’s on the menu at our house, but every once in a while I’m in the mood for a tequila-based cocktail – nothing too fruity, or blended, but a good old spirit-forward concoction. That’s when we are very fortunate to know Dustin Haarstad and Adam Stemmler of Blind Tiger Cocktail Company. These two really know the nuances of different tequilas and how to pair them perfectly with other cocktail ingredients to highlight the spirit in new and surprising ways.

While we were in San Diego for the Spirits of Mexico festival last month, we had the opportunity to meet up with Dustin and Adam at local agave spirits mecca Cantina Mayahuel. We had a great time catching up, talking shop and shooting some cocktail videos. The theme of the day was to take classic cocktail recipes and switch out the traditionally used spirit for tequila.

First up in the “Classic Cocktails with a Tequila Twist” series is Dustin’s “Remember Me, Mang“, where Casa Noble Añejo replaces bourbon or rye whiskey, and Wahaka mezcal replaces the traditional absinthe rinse. Watch how to make this super tasty drink here!

If you want to make it at home, here’s the recipe:

In a pint glass or shaker, add:

2 oz Casa Noble Anejo
½ oz Cherry Heering (a Danish cherry liqueur)
¾ oz sweet vermouth
Couple dashes of Angostura bitters

Then add ice and hand stir (don’t shake!)

Take your cocktail glass and pour enough mezcal to just coat the glass (we used Wahaka mezcal)

Strain the mixed ingredients into your cocktail glass and you’re done.
No garnish needed!

I’ve been a long-time Bloody Mary fan, but I’m not a fan of vodka. Tequila is my beverage of choice. (Go figure.) Luckily, you can substitute tequila for vodka, and PRESTO! you’ve got a tasty “Bloody Maria“.

Creating an amazing Bloody Maria is hard work if you really want to do it right (like a hardcore mixologist) with all fresh ingredients and spices. I am a little lazy in that department, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I will use pre-mixed helpers from time to time. (OK, every time.)

But there are a ton of Bloody Mary mixes available in the market, so I met up with my Bloody Maria-loving friend Lippy, (the famous “Tequila Whisperer“) to find out which mix is best matched with tequila.

To make sure that all things were equal, we used the same tequila for each, Tapatio Blanco, which is a high quality tequila with very pleasant vegetal notes that brings good things to the mix.

Spoiler Alert: Here are the results of our “Bloody Maria Taste-off”

Lucille’s Bloody Mary Mix (Cajun Hot)

This is a powdered mix that you add to tomato juice, and I found it in a store on Haight Street in San Francisco. They make a normal mix, and a “Cajun Hot” version of it – so, being the lover of heat and spice that I am, I went with the Cajun variety.

Verdict: Sadly, this was our least favorite. The Cajun spice is a definite creeper, and it really catches up on you after you’ve swallowed it, then lingers for a while. While we both like spice, this one just felt too weird. Perhaps it lost something when it was turned into a powder? Who knows.

Stirrings Simple Bloody Mary

This was purchased at BevMo in San Francisco (sells for $7.99), and by looking at the label in the store, I somehow felt that this was going to be the winner. It’s called a “Simple Bloody Mary” mix, which sounded great. We all like simple, right?

Verdict: While we were tasting this, Lippy made a comment that it smelled and tasted like shrimp cocktail, and at first I wasn’t sure what he meant. But, after we turned off the cameras, I took another taste, and he was totally right — it smelled exactly like shrimp cocktail, which is awesome … assuming you’re eating an actual shrimp cocktail! Neither of us wants a fishy-taste to our Bloody Maria, so we both ended up passing on this one.

Powell & Mahoney Bloody Mary

This was also purchased at BevMo (sells for $8.99) and it says “Micro Batch” on the label. That also sounds great, doesn’t it? The label makes it look like it was put together by high-end mixologists, so I had high hopes for this one. It’s “all natural” and is made with organic cane sugar.

Verdict: This was Lippy’s favorite of the batch. He felt that it was sweeter, a tiny bit lighter, and that the spicy horseradish punch wasn’t overly-done. He felt that this was a long-term sipper. He said it felt more balanced, and had an “interesting sweet tang” to it.

Zing Zang

Based on the label design alone, I had very low expectations for this one. Even though it says “Award Winning” on the label, I was still suspicious. But it sells for $5.99 and I thought, “Ok, why not?”

Verdict: This was my favorite, by far. Lippy awarded it 2nd place. For me, there was no comparison – it had a nice level of spice, a good “mouth feel”, and it has a familiar Bloody Mary taste of celery that none of the others contained. To me, it was the most complete Bloody Maria experience of all the mixes we tried. I think I would even drink this by itself, it’s so good.

Jimmy Luv’s Bloody Mary Mix

At $5.99, I didn’t know what to expect with this one, but since they used a red jalapeño pepper in their logo instead of an apostrophe, I was curious. Perhaps it had the spicy finish that I love in a good Bloody Maria? Only one way to find out!

Verdict: This was the first one we tasted, and after I tasted it (and before I had the others) I thought that it might win. It was a solid mix, but after trying the rest it seemed to be a little more “safe” for my spice-loving palate. Lippy found it to be very peppery and it had lots of horseradish, but it felt thin and watery.

There are a lot more Bloody Mary mixes in the world, and we certainly didn’t try them all. If you have favorite, please share it here – we’d love to try it!

The Don Fulano brand of tequilas are created at the La Tequileña distillery (NOM 1146), which is located right in the center of the town of Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico. It has a very large aging room with a variety of different types of barrels, so maybe that’s part of the reason why the Don Fulano 5-year Añejo is so good.

[Disclaimer: My statement in the video that the 1146 aging room is the largest in "the world" may not be entirely accurate, but the place is giant, and is definitely one of the largest in the tequila industry.]

Although the label say’s it’s an “añejo”, it’s actually an “extra añejo” because it has been aged longer than 3 years. There’s something in the official tequila labeling rules that prevents brands from using the term “extra añejo” if they include the length of time it has been aged on the label. Weird and confusing? Yes, but let’s move on… :-)

The Don Fulano 5-year Añejo is aged in new French oak barrels, which is what gives it the bitter chocolate aromas we detected right away. It’s loaded with earthy notes (like peat), and honey.

The bitter chocolate lives on in the flavor, too, and it kind of creeps up on you as it opens up. The flavor is surprising because it isn’t what you would initially expect from the aroma. We experienced a sweet caramel flavor and a finish that was silky going down. There were also some spices, with a touch of anise; the flavor overall was very pleasant.

Grover’s Tasting Notes via the Tequila Matchmaker mobile app:

“This tequila has bright peat, cinnamon and earthy aromas, and a delightful almost fruity flavor. The finish seems to bring a few surprises as it delivers waves of delicious complexity. This is a real treat.”

This bottle retails for about $129., and we bought ours online. If you really like aged tequilas, you may be used to paying premium prices. As far as value for what you’re getting, this is certainly worth the money.

If you are into aged tequilas, this is a great one because it’s still holding onto its agave source, and delivers a surprisingly delicious taste.

Living in Mexico for 2 years, you would have thought we would have had ready access to every tequila ever created, but this is not the case. Although 100% of all tequila in the world is created in Mexico, the vast majority of it is made for export only. In the past 2 years several really great tequilas made their way to market, and we weren’t able to try them until now.

One such example is Excellia Tequila, a product created by two masters in the wine and spirits world, Jean-Sébastien Robicquet, founder of EWG Spirits & Wine, Carlos Camarena the maker of El Tesoro de Don Felipe and Tapatio tequilas.

What these two men have created is an example of master craftsmanship, creativity, and a fearless passion for innovation. The Excellia lineup has been a great “welcome home” for us.

The Excellia Blanco was our favorite of the three. It has a beautiful oily mouth feel, with aromas of citrus and vanilla. This tequila has been delicately rested for a few weeks in wine casks and cognac barrels, which is what gives it that slight hint of wood.

It has a very unique aroma, it tastes delicious, is smooth and silky, with a pleasant finish that lingers on for a while. You could easily drink this all night long and not get bored with it.

The Excellia Reposado (aged 9 months in wine casks and cognac barrels) is great right out of the bottle, but let it open up in the glass for a while, and it gets even better. Over time, we noticed that it developed beautiful floral aromas like violet and lavender, and even olive and leather. It has a nice spicy finish at the end.

The Excellia Añejo is aged longer than the reposado (18 months in wine casks and cognac barrels), so it naturally brings with it some additional wood properties – including some bitterness that many añejo drinkers love. It has some dried fruit and desert aromas as well. The finish was similar to a dry white wine, and is very warm and comforting.

This tequila has earned a permanent place on our bar at home. Give it a try and let us know if you feel the same way.

Everyone has a bad college experience that somehow involved tequila. (Go ahead, admit it, you have one too.) As a result, people can be hesitant about tequila later on in life. We run into this situation all the time, and have developed a process for re-introducing people to tequila.

Feel free to use the same process:

Step 1: Set the stage with an informal tasting

Don’t just hand them a shot glass with tequila – this will surely bring nasty college flashbacks. This is exactly what you want to avoid. Skip the salt and the lime, this isn’t a race.

Instead, create a unique experience. Slow down, get nice glassware, and encourage them to sip it. If possible, have a few different types of tequila available so they can see that all tequilas are definitely not the same. Treat the tequila as you would wine, and you’re taking a good first step toward a happy re-introduction.

Step 2: Educate them about tequila and how it is made

The more you know about something, the more you can really get into it. Study up on the tequila basics so you can explain what makes it different from vodka, gin, or whiskey.

Also be ready to dispel some of the tequila myths out there – like tequila being made from a cactus (it isn’t), or that each bottle of tequila contains a worm (it doesn’t), or that you are required to eat the non-existent worm (you aren’t).

Step 3: Choose the right tequila

Give them something of high quality, because chances are that it will taste like something they’ve never had before. We’ve been down this road countless times, and our tequila conversion success rate is remarkably high mostly because we carefully select what they will be tasting.

It’s probably a safe bet to start with some aged tequilas, like the Casa Noble Reposado, Excellia Reposado, or Fortaleza Añejo. (Our favorite conversion tools!) As soon as your friends smell these tequilas, they will already know that they’re in for a much different experience.

Which are your favorite “conversion tequilas?” Please share with us by leaving a comment below.

Salud!

- Grover

The Tequila Mix MastersNext up in our “Tequila Mix Master” series is the always-entertaining Adam Stemmler of the Blind Tiger Cocktail Company. Adam is constantly coming up with innovative tequila-based cocktails, and his “Heartland Smash” is no exception. It uses Fortaleza reposado tequila, muddled fruit, and lots of crushed ice.

“It’s a basic play on a smash, which is a term that applies to anything that has muddled fruit or muddled herbs in it, kind of in a shaken format,” Stemmler said.

“We are calling this cocktail the “Heartland Smash” with Fortaleza tequila being the star of the show. With Fortaleza being right in the town of Tequila, which we like to call the heartland of Mexico, I think it’s an appropriate name for what we’re about to do,” he said.

The resulting drink is a balanced mix of fruit with a touch of wood from the reposado. The aromatics of the mint contribute to make this a really refreshing cocktail.

Drink Name: The Heartland Smash

Mixologist: Adam Stemmler, Blind Tiger Cocktail Company

Tequila Used: Fortaleza Reposado

Filmed At: Cafe Coyote, San Diego, CA

Directions:

1.) Add 5-6 small pieces of pineapple to a cocktail tin (shaker)

2.) Add 4-5 leaves of fresh mint

3.) Lightly muddle the pineapple and mint in the tin

4.) Add 1 1/2 ounces of Fortaleza Reposado tequila

5.) Add just under 1/2 ounce of Aperol

6.) Add about 1/2 ounce of agave nectar

7.) Squeeze half of a lemon into the tin

8.) Add a few dashes of Bar Keep Baked Apple Bitters to the tin

9.) Shake the cocktail vigorously

10.) Double fine strain the cocktail into a glass of crushed ice

11.) Add a little mint sprigs to the top for garnish

The Tequila Mix MastersOur “Tequila Mix Masters” series continues with rockstar bartender and mixologist Dustin Haarstad of the Blind Tiger Cocktail Company. In this installment, he shows Scarlet how to make a Tequila Sazerac using Fortaleza Añejo tequila.

“A sazerac is the New Orleans version of a traditional Old Fashioned, which would normally use cognac or rye,” Haarstad said.

It’s a great cocktail for people who prefer to drink their tequilas neat, and it’s not a very difficult one to create at home.

“For this drink I use Fortaleza Añejo because the barrel-aged flavors and subtle butterscotch of the agave really shine through,” he said.

The finished cocktail has a nice strong citrus smell, with a rounded mouth feel. The añejo tequila really plays well with the citrus, and is absolutely delicious. We can easily see drinking this after dinner and really enjoying it.

Drink Name: Tequila Sazerac (Old Fashioned)

Mixologist: Dustin Haarstad, Blind Tiger Cocktail Company

Tequila Used: Fortaleza Añejo

Filmed At: Cafe Coyote, San Diego, CA

Directions:

1.) Start with a pint glass

2.) Add 2 ounces of Fortaleza Añejo tequila

3.) Add 1/2 ounce of cocktail-ready agave nectar (from Tres Agaves)

4.) Add a few dashes (2-3) of Peychaud’s Bitters

5.) Add ice and stir (don’t shake!)

6.) Spritz the inside of a glass with Absinthe

7.) Strain the cocktail into the spritzed glass

8.) Top off the glass with a bit of orange peel

The Tequila Mix MastersWe’re back with another installment of our “Tequila Mix Masters” series, with our special guest, rockstar mixologist Adam Stemmler of Blind Tiger Cocktail Company. “Keeping Up with the Carthusians” uses two very special ingredients: Casa Noble Crystal tequila, and Green Chartreuse.

“With this recipe, I get to work with two of my absolute favorite ingredients in the whole world,” Stemmler said. “One being tequila, and the other being Green Chartreuse, which is a really beautiful French cordial-style spirit that is infused with over 140 different types of botanicals and made by Carthusian monks.”

“I use Casa Noble Crystal tequila in this cocktail because it adds an abundance of bright citrus, good herbaceous notes, and a little bit of peppercorn. Those flavors are really going to make the Green Chartreuse pop in this cocktail,” he said.

As you’ll see from Scarlet’s reaction, this cocktail is really refreshing. It’s very bright with citrus and herbal flavors, and the Casa Noble Crystal tequila really helps to pull out those flavors. It’s a very easy-to-drink cocktail — you could have several of them in a row!

Drink Name: “Keeping Up with the Carthusians”

Mixologist: Adam Stemmler, Blind Tiger Cocktail Company

Tequila Used: Casa Noble Crystal

Filmed At: Cafe Coyote, San Diego, CA

Directions:

1.) Add 1 1/2 ounces of Casa Noble Crystal tequila to a mixing tin

2.) Add just under 1/2 ounce of Green Chartreuse to the tin

3.) Add a few drops of white spice fennel bitters (home made)

4.) Add 1 ounce of cocktail-ready agave nectar

5.) Add the juice of 1/2 of a lime (fresh squeezed)

6.) Shake!

7.) Pour into a Collins glass with ice and lime wheels

8.) Add orange peel for garnish, and serve

 

Clayton Szczech of Experience Tequila is a frequent house guest of ours in Mexico City. On one recent visit we decided to put him to work – blind tasting three different expressions of Espolon reposado. (The old version in the original tall bottle; the new version commonly found in the USA; and a version that’s only found in Mexico that’s aged in bourbon barrels.)

Within the last few years, this well-known tequila brand has gone through some changes. The brand was purchased by Campari/Skyy, the bottle design was changed, and the tequila inside is slightly different.

So which is better? Watch the video to find out!

But I am pleased to say that after the blind taste test, Clayton and I agreed.

- Grover

The Tequila Mix MastersTequila-based cocktails aren’t usually on the menu at most bars, but a few brave souls are working to change that. This is the first in a new series from TasteTequila.com called “Tequila Mix Masters”, where we find rockstar bartenders who have a special place in their heart (and their drink recipes) for tequila.

Jen Queen of Snake Oil Cocktail Company in San Diego has been making a name for herself in the Southern California bartender scene. She’s known for creating lively, innovative cocktail recipes like the “Fresno Chili Tequila Julep,” a spicy, fresh, and absolutely delicious, tequila-based cocktail.

“It’s a twist on a classic,” said Queen. “A julep would not normally have citrus but I love citrus and spice, and with tequila to lift all of those flavors.”

“I chose Siete Leguas reposado because I get really bold citrus and spice out of that and I thought it would pair really well with a little bit of wood on the back-end, and an aged apple cordial that I am going to put in as well to lift the viscosity,” she said.

Drink Name: Fresno Chili Tequila Julep
Mixologist: Jen Queen, Snake Oil Cocktail Company
Tequila Used: Siete Leguas Reposado
Filmed At: Cafe Coyote, San Diego, CA

Directions:

1.) Start with a quarter of an apple, cored and sliced

2.) Add a few slices of fresh ginger root

3.) Add a few slices of fresno chili (save the cap for a garnish!)

4.) Add a few fresh mint sprigs (palm-bruised to release the oils)

5.) Put the apple, ginger, chili and mint into a glass and muddle it down

6.) Add 1/2 ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice

7.) Add 1/2 ounce of agave nectar

8.) Add 1/2 ounce of Leopold Brothers Apple Cordial

9.) Add ice and shake

10.) Add 2 ounces of Siete Leguas reposado tequila

11.) Fill a glass with crushed ice and fine strain the cocktail into it

12.) Garnish with some mint crowns and the fresno chili cap and serve!

Yxta Cocina Mexicana is a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles that features extremely tasty and authentic Mexican fare.

The food is reason enough to visit but we were also impressed by their tequila bar. It’s small, but packed with some really great tequilas. A restaurant or bar doesn’t have to stock 300 different tequilas to be good – in fact, we really enjoy a smaller, carefully chosen selection – as long as the person behind the bar knows a thing or two about what they’re serving.

Now, you know that we like to drink our tequila straight, but we have to admit that Yxta’s tequila cocktails are pretty damn good too.

One in particular stood out, and it turns out that it’s one of their bestsellers. The Jamaica Margarita, which uses the hibiscus-infused Gran Centenario Rosangel tequila, was so good that we asked for the recipe. It offers a nice balance between tart and sweet, and its fresh flavors makes it is easy to drink.

I went back a few days later, brought my camera, and Berenice showed us how it’s done.

Jamaica Margarita Recipe

(from Yxta Cocina Mexicana in Los Angeles)

Ingredients
– Gran Centenario Rosangel tequila
– House-made jamaica juice (water, hibiscus, sugar)
– House-made sweet and sour (lime, lemon, orange, simple syrup, and some egg whites for froth)
– Triple sec
– Lime wedges

Directions
1.) Fill a glass with ice
2.) Add 1 1/2 ounces of Rosangel tequila
3.) Add a splash of Triplesec
4.) Squeeze 1 lime wedge into the glass
5.) Add the sweet and sour mixture to the glass (2 1/2 ounces)
6.) Add the jamaica juice to the glass (2 1/2 ounces)
7.) Add to a cocktail shaker and shake!
8.) Return to the glass and serve

If you try this recipe, we’d love to hear your thoughts. How did you like it? Post your comments below!

The Museum of Tequila and Mezcal (Museo del Tequila y el Mezcal) opened in December 2010 in Mexico City. We, along with our friend Clayton Szczech, of ExperienceTequila.com, decided to pay a visit, take a tour, and see how it compares to other tequila-themed museums.

Now, to be completely honest, we’ve been to our fair share of tequila museums before and most leave us disappointed. (In our opinion, the best “museum” experience comes from the town and distilleries of Tequila, Jalisco itself.) So we were pleasantly surprised with our experience at this particular museum, which is located in Plaza Garibaldi, best known as being the home of los mariachi in Mexico City. (This is where you come to hire a mariachi band for a party, or just hang out and enjoy the music.)

The museum gives a general overview of the tequila and mezcal production processes, highlighting their rich Mexican history, and has an impressive bottle collection containing some very rare specimens, including old Porfidio and Siete Leguas bottles. It was also very refreshing to see that this museum is brand-neutral, meaning that all brands are equally represented.

After the tour, we went up to the top floor bar and restaurant, “La Cata.” This is where tours end with a little taste of both tequila and mezcal.

For $50 pesos (about $4 US dollars) you get entry into the museum as well as complimentary mini shots of tequila and mezcal on the terrace, overlooking Plaza Garibaldi. Definitely worthwhile.

When we drink tequila, 98% of the time we sip it slow and straight. But every once in a while (the remaining 2%) it’ll take the form of a margarita. There are two margaritas that we like best, the “Pure Margarita,” and “Charlie’s Famous Mango Margarita.”

Charlie is the happy, smiling bartender at the Quinta Don Jose Boutique Hotel, in Tlaquepaque, Mexico – our favorite hotel in the Guadalajara area.

His mango margarita is sweet, smooth, fruity, refreshing, and the tequila is still the star ingredient (it’s not hiding beneath other flavors.)

During a recent visit, I convinced Charlie to give up his recipe – and I even created a video of the process (above).

Mango Margarita Tequila Drink Recipe

  1. Start with 1/4 of a fresh mango, cubed
  2. Add approximately 1 1/2 cups of ice to a blender
  3. Add the juice of 1/2 of a large lime (he says “lemon” in the video, but he means “lime.”)
  4. Add 1 ounce of Cointreau
  5. Add 1 ounce of simple syrup (sugar water)
  6. Add 2 ounces of 100% agave tequila (Charlie uses Siete Leguas blanco, or if that’s not available, Siete Leguas reposado)
  7. Add the mango cubes to the blender
  8. Blend until smooth
  9. Wet the rim of a wide glass with a lime wedge
  10. Add Tajin seasoning to the rim of the glass
  11. Add a thin slice of mango to the rim for garnish
  12. DRINK UP!

Thanks, Charlie! And if you’re ever in the Guadalajara area, consider sitting poolside at the Quinta Don Jose while sipping on one (or more) of these.

Leopoldo Solis is the mastermind behind many well-respected tequilas. After our review of his most recent creation, Tequila Gran Dovejo, we were invited to meet Mr. Solis in person while he was traveling through Mexico City.

Solis is a “Master Tequilero,” and Casa Real, Campanario, Don Pilar, Real de Mexico, and Siembra Azul are some of his other creations.

We took the opportunity to interview Mr. Solis, and asked him what it’s like to be a Master Tequilero (a dream job for any tequila fan.) We also asked him to explain the difference between a tequila that is 38% alcohol (which is commonly found in Mexico) and that same tequila at 40% (found in the United States.)

When we asked Mr. Solis what someone needed to be a “Master Tequilero,” he didn’t hesitate with his reply – passion. This passion was evident off camera as well. While we were setting up the lights and camera, Mr. Solis was enthusiastically sharing his knowledge about how to properly taste tequila, from sipping and breathing techniques to experimenting with your own senses.

For example, he told us that since we are both right-handed, we should try looking to the right and down at the floor when smelling tequila aromas. Sure enough, we both detected stronger aromas on our right-hand sides than our left. (Apparently, if you’re left-handed the opposite is true.)

He also said that your senses will change if you’re looking up rather than down, even with your eyes closed. “Everything matters,” he said.

His attention to detail and sensorial elements can’t help but affect the quality of his tequilas.