WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tequila, once the drink less traveled, has moved beyond the traditional margarita and has taken center stage in new, exciting cocktails as well as a fine sipping spirit.
“While the margarita is a staple and rightly so, Tequila cocktails travel far afield from the citrus groves,” said noted bartender David “Cowboy Dave” Wright of the Windmill Lounge (http://windmill-lounge.com/) in Dallas, Texas. “They explore different nuances of the agave, with surprising, and I think exciting results.”
With the expanding role that Tequila has begun to play in U.S. cocktail culture, Tequila growth continues to outpace other spirits categories. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, since 2002, U.S. imports of Tequila have grown 46 percent — an average rate of 7.9 percent a year.
Among Tequila categories, High End and Super Premium brands have seen the fastest annual growth since 2002, with High End averaging 15.6 percent and Super Premium averaging a robust 30.8 percent increase.
Wright said that in addition to the complexities offered in Tequila-based cocktails, Tequila offers equally as much charm as a fine sipping spirit.
“Just as with good bourbon, a good Tequila can and frequently should be sipped slowly, over just a little ice, to allow the nuances of the distiller’s art to flower on the palate,” said Wright.
Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Council offers the following primer on their native spirit for those who want to talk Tequila:
Blanco/White/Silver- aged under two months, this style of Tequila is the purest, and imparts the natural flavors of the blue agave plant.
Resposado- aged two to twelve months, this tequila meshes the mellowing traits of wood with the herbal qualities of the blue agave juice.
Añejo – aged over one year, Añejo Tequilas posess vanilla flavors of the oak in which they’re aged.
Ultra aged Tequila (Extra Añejo)- This is the newest classification of Tequila. Ultra Aged or Extra Añejo may be enhanced by mellowing, subject to an aging process of at least three years, without specifying the aging time in its label, in direct contact with the wood of oak (holm or holm oak) or Encino oak containers with a maximum capacity of 600 liters. Its commercial alcohol content must be adjusted by dilution with water.
[Editor’s Note: To add local flare, contact an area mixologist for hot Tequila cocktails]
1 oz. Tequila
1/4 oz. Pimm’s No 1 Cup
1/4 oz. Gin
6 drops Fee Bros. Orange Bitters
Small splash, cranberry juice
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker, add ice, shake, strain into sugar rimmed up (martini) glass. Garnish with whole strawberry.
3/4 oz. Tequila
1/4 oz. Drambuie
1/4 oz Scotch Whisky
1/4 oz orange curacao
Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker, add ice, shake, strain into up (martini) glass, garnish with flamed orange peel
Tequila Mocking Bird
1 1/4 oz Tequila
1/4 oz Blackcurrant-flavored liqueur
2 oz Pineapple Juice
Combine ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker. Pour entire contents into a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange slice.
1 ¼ oz Tequila
1/4 oz Orange Liqueur
¼ oz Orange Juice
¼ oz Sweet N Sour
Splash of Grenadine
Combine ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker. Pour entire contents into a high ball glass. Garnish with an orange slice.
Strawberry Basil Margarita
1 1/4 oz Tequila
1/4 oz Orange Liqueur
½ Strawberry puree
Fresh lime and basil
Combine ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker. Pour entire contents into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime and strawberry slice.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is a national trade association representing the leading brands of distilled spirits. Council member products include the full spectrum of quality distilled spirits such as Bourbon, Scotch and other whiskeys, vodka, gin, tequila, rum, brandy, cordials and liqueurs.
The distillers take special pride in their products as well as in their commitment to encourage responsible beverage alcohol consumption by adults who choose to drink. If you choose to drink, consume sensibly and responsibly. An important part of responsible drinking is understanding that a standard drink of regular beer (12 oz.), distilled spirits (1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits) and wine (5 oz.) each contains the same amount of alcohol.