Surrounded by myths, legends, and lore, the popularity of tequila has skyrocketed in recent years. Celebrity-backed brands and pricey aged expressions are popping up everywhere with over 1,000 brands now available, but tequila is hardly new.
Tequila’s rich history as one of North America’s first distilled spirits dates back to the 15th century near the city of Tequila, Mexico. The Aztec people began distilling the fermented beverage derived from the agave plant and perfected it after the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in 1521. Mass production of tequila started in a factory near modern-day Jalisco by Don Pedro Sánchez de Tagle, and by 1608, Spain’s King Carlos IV granted the Cuervo family the first license to produce tequila commercially.
The succulent agave plant has a lifespan of 8-15 years, with leaves reaching 5-8 feet. With over 135 species of agave throughout Mexico, there are many variants, but to be officially named a tequila, the spirit must come from the blue agave plant in the state of Jalisco. In addition, any tequila made solely from the blue agave, agave tequilana weber azul may not be flavored in any way.
The Mexican spirit has weaved its way through much of Mexico’s history and folklore.
Reaching its global prominence in 1821 after Mexico gained its independence, tequila made its mark as a major export business. Today there are over 100 distilleries producing everything from blanco (unaged) and reposado (aged in oak barrels for 2-12 months) to añejo (aged 1-3 years) and extra añejo (aged longer than 3 years).
Do you know how to properly taste tequila?
Hold your glass to your heart, lower your chest, and inhale the fragrance through your nose, and then take a sip.
Rosa-Lime Margarita Recipe
Created by Abelardo Chim, Senior Bartender @ Rosas & Xocolate Luxury Boutique Hotel
1 ½ oz. Tequila
½ oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Lime Juice
A touch of lime zest
½ oz grenadine syrup
Shake all the ingredients thoroughly on ice in a cocktail shaker and serve on a glass.
Written for NC Living Magazine Fall 2019