This Friday marks National Tequila Day, which was probably dreamed up by booze company executives to sell more of the agave spirit to frat boys and bachelorettes. But celebrating tequila is something many of us can get on board with. After all, it’s the spirit of the moment, having risen from the depths of acrid-tasting black-out fodder to grown-up sipping drink.
Mixologist Junior Merino has worked with the spirit for years and believes much of its appeal lies in its diversity. Unlike other distilled tipples, tequila is beholden to its terroir, much in the same way wine is. And so, with enough tequila experience, you might be able to tell exactly where a particular one is from just by tasting it.
“Depending on the region — the altitude, the winds, the precipitation of the region — tequila can have higher sugar levels or acidity levels… like grapes,” says Merino. “[Tequilas from] the highlands have aromatics of citrus and taste more herbal. [Those of] the lowlands are bigger, sweeter, and spicier.”
Merino likes the cocktail list at the much talked-about Mayahuel, but his favorite place for tequila in the city is La Esquina, with its 140-strong list, which includes many small, independent brands. He also endorses Toloache, which stocks around 80 different tequilas.
“The list [at La Esquina] is divided by region, like a wine list,” he says.
Celebrate National Tequila Day this Friday with one of the self-proclaimed Liquid Chef’s own signature cocktails:
1/2 oz Benedictine
3/4 oz Combier Liqueur d’Orange
1 1/2 oz Siembra Azul Anejo
1/4 oz lime juice
2 sage leaves
In a shaker or mixing glass, combine all the ingredients. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain over ice cubes in a rocks glass and garnish with a stem of sage.