Don Julio Anejo, my first tequila crush.

Don Julio Añejo, my first tequila crush.

When I was 31 years-old, I had my first-ever taste of an avocado. It was on the same day I first ate sushi. Today, these are some of my favorite things in life. It took a while, but I finally caught on.

Somewhere in my 39th year, sitting in the back of Tommy’s Mexican Restuarant in San Francisco, I had my first real tequila experience. Scarlet just moved into town, and a group of friends walked to the famed San Francisco tequila destination, just around the corner from her apartment.

She ordered tequila, and I was all for it.

Ahh, tequila. We used to drink it (Jose Cuervo) in college, and it always seemed to turn out bad in the end. It was sort of like a badge of honor among my male friends. We’d be in a bar packed with other college kids, drinking beer at break-neck speed, as if we were competing in a consumption contest.

Then one of my louder, drunker, abnoxious friends would declare every male at the table a “wimp” to turn down his challenge – a shot of tequila. (The word “wimp” was not used, but since this is a blog that my mother will read someday, I won’t use the real word because it is offensive. To cats, specifically.)

Well, I am not one to be called names, and I could hold my liquor, so I never turned it down. And I always paid the price for it the next day with a why-the-hell-was-I-so-stupid hangover, and sometimes with some strange name and phone number, written in pen, in someone else’s handwriting, on the palm of my hand.

With enough of these experiences, naturally, tequila was eventually avoided. I left college and never looked back. Tequila was a drink for college kids, lumped in there with Jagermeister and Goldschläger, and I was an adult now.

So it should be no surprise that when I sat down with Scarlet and friends, old memories flooded my thoughts, and when it came time to drink, I did what I was programmed to do… I slammed it.

Then came the dirty look from Scarlet. I noticed she was sipping. Relaxing. Enjoying it. She was drinking some red tomato juice substance. She also looked offended. She looked classy. Refined. Downright sexy.

“You did not just drink that entire shot, did you?” she asked.

“What!” I replied, very defensively.

“That was Casadores Añejo, not Cuervo. It is meant to be sipped,” she said.

Really? Tequila meant to be SIPPED?! That goes against everything I’ve ever known, so of course I wanted to give it a try.

The “red tomato juice substance” was sangrita. So when the waitress came back to the table, I ordered a another shot, and sangrita too.

The box of tequila, containing 2 bottles each of Don Julio Anejo and Herradura Anjeo, plus Patron Anjeo and Reposado.

The box of tequila, containing 2 bottles each of Don Julio Añejo and Herradura Añejo, plus Patron Añejo and Reposado.

When the next shot arrived, I took things slow. Very slow. I sipped. I tasted. I enjoyed. In all the shots of tequila I’ve had in my life, I never actually stopped to taste any of them. It took a while, but I finally caught on.

Soon after that, I went on a tequila tasting frenzy. I bought every single type and brand of tequila I could find at Costco, tossed it all into a big cardboard box, and brought it over to Scarlet’s house. (Don Julio Añejo turned became my first ‘favorite tequila.’) A monster was born.

— Grover