July 21, 2017
For some, merely the mention of the word “tequila” sends a shudder down the spine. If you can get past the fuzzy memories a few college nights gone bad, you’ll see tequila is actually well-respected among top bartenders and can be as classy as a bourbon or Scotch.
A Rich History
Tequila has stood the test of (lots of) time, though it didn’t begin as the tequila we know today. Dating back to 100 B.C., the Aztecs prized a fermented drink known as pulque, which used the sap of the agave plant. The drink didn’t transform into its recognizable form until centuries later during the Spanish invasion. The Spaniards were parched and couldn’t last long without brandy, so they began to improvise with mud and agave- creating what we know today as mezcal.
Fun fact: All tequilas are technically mezcals, but not all mezcals are tequilas.
In the mid-1500s, the Spanish government opened a trade route between Manila and Mexico, and in the early 1600s, the Marquis of Altamira built the first large-scale distillery in what is now Tequila, Jalisco.
In 1758, the Cuervo family began commercially distilling tequila, and the spirit everyone now knows and loves was born. They were followed by the Sauza family in the late 1800s, who discovered that blue agave was the best for producing tequila.
Like other popular spirits during Prohibition, tequila found a home among American scofflaws. During this time, drinkers couldn’t access much more than bathtub gin and second-rate whiskey, so they turned to Mexico’s sweet agave nectar. In 1936, it was legal again to drink in the States and going to Mexico to party was no longer requisite, but a newspaperman named James Graham and his wife took a trip to Tijuana. There, they wound up in a bar run by an Irishman called Madden. Madden was known all around the area for his drink, the Tequila Daisy. He admitted the drink’s creation was a lucky mistake, but that ‘mistake’ has become strangely celebrated in the U.S. – the margarita.
Fun fact: Margarita in Spanish means daisy.
International Tequila Day is July 24! Here’s a unique margarita recipe to help you celebrate!
Strawberry Basil Margarita
3 Medium strawberries
3 Basil leaves
3⁄4 oz Lime juice
.75 oz Simple syrup
1.5 oz Jose Cuervo Tradicional Tequila
.5 oz Cointreau
.25 oz Maraschino liqueur
- In a shaker, muddle the strawberries, basil, lime juice and simple syrup.
- Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice.
- Shake vigorously and strain into a Margarita glass filled with fresh ice.
- Garnish with a lime wheel and additional basil leaf.
Find even more tequila cocktails here.