Yes it’s International Tequila Day today, and the one drink everyone knows of (at least everyone I know anyway!), and is arguably the most synonymous with Tequila, has to be the Margarita.
If it wasn’t for the fact that I already have a hangover that would kill an elephant, I’d be straight up for having one of these beauties right now to celebrate! In my defense though, I DID start off proceedings last night with one of these, so I was just getting in early – that’s my excuse anyway!
Tequila is a form of mezcal that can only be made from one specific agave leaf. Here, for International Tequila day today, we visit some fun facts about tequila and mezcal that you may not have known. Ariiiiba!
Mezcal, Mexico’s wonderfully smoky contribution to the drinking world, works as a great base for cocktails or simply as a straight sipper. It also has a rich history.
Here, Kendra Kuppin and mixologist Michael Zurkin from New York’s Spice & Spoon cooking school bring you 10 things you probably didn’t know about the complex spirit.
1. The word “mezcal” comes from the Aztec word mexcalli, which combines metl (meaning maguey, aka agave) and ixcalli (meaning cooked). The literal translation of mezcal is “cooked agave.”
2. Mezcal is not a type of tequila—tequila is actually a type of mezcal. Mezcal refers to any alcohol made from agave, whereas tequila is made from a single type of agave—Weber’s blue agave, also known as agave tequilana.
3. Though mezcal can be made from any type of agave, the most popular type used is called Espadín. If you know your stuff, you’ll know that mezcal made from a different type of agave—Tobala agave—is very highly regarded. This type of agave grows wild in canyons at extremely high altitudes and under the shade of oak trees. Furthermore, you can only extract about 1/8 the amount of liquid from the heart of the Tobala agave compared to Espadín, making it rarer and more expensive.
4. Until the 1990s, mezcal had a bad reputation as nothing but poor-quality tequila. The bad perception came from a lack of regulation about what could properly be called mezcal, and as a result there were a lot of cheap knockoffs.
5. Much like true Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region of France, true mezcal must come from one of eight states in Mexico, the largest of which is Oaxaca.
6. Mezcal gets its smoky taste and smell from the way agave breaks down before fermentation. The agave is placed in a pit dug into the ground and filled with hot coals, where it sits for two to three days, acquiring its signature smoky essence.
7. Contrary to popular belief, the worm in mezcal isn’t a worm at all, it’s actually a larva. There are two types of larvae that are often added to mezcal: white-and-gold or red. The white-and-gold larvae live in the agave root, and the red larvae reside in the long leaves of the plant. Despite the worms’ prevalence among mezcal brands, the larvae are not necessary. And no, it won’t make you hallucinate.
8. Worms aren’t the only creatures used in mezcal production. Pechuga mezcal is made by distilling the liquor along with a raw chicken or turkey breast. Sure, it sounds bizarre, but it adds a rich, meaty complexity to the drink that is actually quite tasty.
9. According to legend, mezcal was created when a lightening bolt struck an agave plant, cooking and opening it, then releasing the liquid inside. That is why people often refer to it as the “elixir of the gods.”
10. Every year, Oaxaca sponsors an International Mezcal Festival. The festival starts July 18, and for under $5 you can drink to your heart’s desire as you explore a maze of traditional mezcal vendors.
Wikipedia states that:
The Margarita is a cocktail consisting of tequila, triple sec and lime or lemon juice, often served with salt on the rim of the glass. The drink is served shaken with ice, blended with ice, or without ice.
Main alcohol: Tequila
Ingredients: 2 oz Tequila, 1 oz Lime juice, 1 oz Cointreau
Preparation: Rub the rim of the glass with the lime slice to make the salt stick to it. Shake the other ingredients with ice, then carefully pour into the glass (taking care not to dislodge any salt). Garnish and serve over ice.
Served: On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnish: Lime slice, Salt on the rim
Drinkware: Margarita glass
And now the (moderately) NSFW bit – Hey Kids!? – What’s that over there . . . . ?:
A man walks into a bar, notices a very large jar on the counter,and sees that it’s filled to the brim with $10 bills. He guesses there must be at least ten thousand dollars in it.He approaches the bartender and asks, “What’s with the money in the jar?”
“Well…, you pay $10, and if you pass three tests, you get all the money in the jar and the keys to a brand new Lexus.”
The man certainly isn’t going to pass this up, so he asks, “What are the three tests?”
“You gotta pay first,” says the bartender, “those are the rules.”
So, after thinking it over a while, the man gives the bartender $10 which he stuffs into the jar.
“Okay,” says the bartender, “here’s what you need to do:
First – You have to drink a whole quart of tequila, in 60 seconds or less, and you can’t make a face while doing it.”
“Second – There’s a pit bull chained in the back with a bad tooth. You have to remove that tooth with your bare hands.”
“Third – There’s a 90-year old lady upstairs who’s never had sex. You have to take care of that problem.”
The man is stunned! “I know I paid my $10 — but I’m not an idiot! I won’t do it! You’d have to be nuts to drink a quart of tequila and then do all those other things!”
“Your call,” says the bartender, “but, your money stays where it is.”
As time goes on, the man has a few more drinks and finally says, “Where’s the damn tequila?!”
He grabs the bottle with both hands and drinks it as fast as he can.Tears stream down both cheeks — but he doesn’t make a face — and he drinks it in 58 seconds!
Next, he staggers out the back door where he sees the pit bull chained to a pole. Soon, the people inside the bar hear loud growling, screaming, and sounds of a terrible fight — then nothing but silence!
Just when they think that the man surely must be dead, he staggers back into the bar. His clothes are ripped to shreds and he’s bleeding from bites and gashes all over his body. He drunkenly says, “Now…, where’s that old woman with the bad tooth?”
Now, doesn’t that make you want another Slammer??! 🙂
*Watermelon-Tequila Cocktail Recipe
Makes 8 drinks | Prep Time: 15 Mins
Adapted from Food & Wine
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 cups diced seedless watermelon (1 lb)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 calamansi limes (juice only), optional
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, plus 8 sprigs for garnish
1 1/4 cups silver tequila
In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a simmer. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute; let the sugar syrup cool.
In a blender, puree the watermelon until smooth. Strain the watermelon juice, pressing gently on the pulps to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the pulp.
In a pitcher, combine the sugar syrup with the lime juice, calamansi juice and mint leaves. Using a wooden spoon, lightly muddle the mint. Add the watermelon juice and tequila. Add ice to the cocktail and garnish with the mint sprigs and serve cold.
Yummo!! – Pre-make a batch and enjoy that balmy afternoon in a park somewhere!
Please remember to drink responsibly too peeps! 🙂