Tequila is one of those divisive liquors that gets a bad rap for being the reason behind many college black outs and nights spent hugging the toilet bowl. When you’re 19, having five shots in a row seems like a great idea, but now that you’re older and wiser, it’s time to look at tequila from a different—more refined—perspective. After all, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate National Tequila Day than downing a shot of the cheapest option on the shelf.
Keep it simple with a tequila and soda
If you actually enjoy the taste of tequila, there’s no better cocktail than a basic tequila, club soda, and lime. The key is to choose a tequila that goes down smooth and doesn’t make you want to basically put an entire lime in your glass to mask the burn. Don Julio is always a good choice, but for a lower price point, try Milagro or the George Clooney-owned Casamigos. Generally, a blanco tequila is the best option for a simple cocktail like a tequila and soda. If you like a little extra flavour, try adding a citrus bitter such as grapefruit or blood orange.
Mix up a margarita
Tequila goes perfectly with a strong lime flavour and a salt rim, which is exactly why margaritas are such a classic. If you want a quality margarita, go with a blanco tequila like Patron Silver or 1800 Tequila Silver. While you can mix up your margarita flavour (mango, anyone?), you can never go wrong with lime. Follow this recipe for the perfect margarita every time:
2 oz. tequila
1 and 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
Sip on a mezcal
A mezcal can be made from over 30 different varieties of agave. Tequila is made from blue agave so it is considered a type of mezcal. There are plenty of other mezcals that come from different regions of Mexico, and they all have their own unique flavours that tend to be smokier than tequila. Depending on how long a mezcal is aged, it will be grouped into one of three categories: joven, reposado, and anejo. If you’re a mezcal beginner, Del Maguey Mezcal Vida is a good place to start—it has notes of honey, vanilla, sandalwood, and tangerine, and can be enjoyed straight or as a substitute for tequila in a cocktail.
Do a tasting
What’s the best way to find your favourite tequila? Do a tasting! Mexican restaurants like El Catrin in Toronto’s Distillery District, The Pawn Shop in Vancouver, and Le Tequila Bar in Montreal offer a huge selection of tequilas and mezcals so you can easily sample a few different kinds in one visit. Or invite a few tequila connoisseurs over to your place and ask them to bring their favourite bottle for everyone to sample. If you’re still trying to figure out what you like, personal recommendations are a great place to start.