Though once unfairly regarded almost as a novelty – the drink for bad decisions and heavy nights – over the last few years, tequila has come into its own as something to savour, not slam. And with International Tequila Day coming up on Sunday July 24, it’s as good a time as any to rid yourselves of any student-night misconceptions and explore what this spirit can offer.
Those who can’t quick hack the rapidly gulped shots and prefer a slower sip are probably best buying a bottle of ââanejo or extra anejo tequila, which are aged (anejo for anywhere between a year and three years, extra anejo for more than three).
For cocktails, though, there’s no need â– either a blanco (no age) or reposado (aged up to a year) will do. Blanco typically has that bright, sharp hit tequila is famous for; reposado isn't so different, but the slight ageing does soften the edges a little. You'll notice the difference most in something where the tequila is the star of the drink, like a margarita. In a Paloma? It's likely to be less obvious.
With that all in mind, it's time to get mixing.
25ml oz dry vermouth â
25ml vermouth rossoâ
Not quite a Negroni, though undoubtedly the inspiration is there – still, a very healthy slug of tequila gives this a Mexican twist. With these measures, this is a fairly lethal one – you’re probably best to stir everything over ice in a mixing glass and then strain into two or even three serves, though the proportions will work whether made larger or smaller. Serve with grapefruit or lemon peel.
Any tequila should work here, though a reposado will give it a bit more oomph – and it'll handle the Campari better. Patron and Don Julio both have lovely bottles that can be found easily online.
50ml tequila â
65ml grapefruit soda
A true Mexican favourite, this one – and easy to see why; it’s as simple as anything, almost like a Mexican gin and tonic. There are recipes out there calling for fresh grapefruit juice and club soda and, while they do work, aren’t really in keeping with the spirit of the thing – it’s meant to be an easy mix one to smooth out the edges after work.
Fill a highball with ice, add a decent tequila, top it with soda and add in a splash of lime. We’ve been using the recently launched Two Keys mixers lately as they’ve been created specifically with booze in mind, and pair well with most spirits.
South of the Border
½ lime â
30ml tequila â
20ml Tia Maria
Squeeze the lime into a small highball glass, add ice cubes, pour in the tequila and Tia Maria and give it all a good stir. Some call for this to be served in a traditional Martini glass; if that’s your bag, then stir the drink in a mixing glass or shaker before straining it into one.
50ml tequila blancoâ
20ml fresh lime juice
Perhaps the best of all tequila cocktails. Start by running a lime wedge around the lip of a glass – ideally a margarita glass, but anything will do. Turn the glass upside down and roll its lip in a shallow saucer of salt. Next, combine the lime juice, tequila and Cointreau in a cocktail shaker and add ice. Give it all a vigorous shake, then strain into your salted glass, and garnish with a lime wheel.
This recipe gives a very classic, very good margarita, but if you don’t fancy tequila blanco, again try using a reposado tequila like the Patron pictured above, which is a little softer and seems to round out the drink. The brand also have their own orange liqueur which, no surprise, matches their tequila pretty well.
Around 10ml hot sauce
You’ll note the lack of exact measures here; sorry gang, it’s all down to practice. The Michelada is loosely akin to a Mexican Bloody Mary, and, like a Bloody Mary, is an extremely personal thing.
Start by salting the rim of a highball glass, then set the glass level and add in about 10ml of hot sauce. Next, squeeze the limes and pour the juice in – somewhere around the 50-60ml mark should do it. Shake in a few drops of Lea & Perrins, and give it all a good stir. If you’re not up early the following morning, add in the tequila, it gives this one a hell of a punch. Pop in some ice cubes, then stir slowly while pouring in the beer. Most lagers will work. To drink, sip slowly, topping up with beer as you go.