Today is a big day for tequila. If you're celebrating Cinco de Mayo, you're guaranteed to come across a margarita or a shot of tequila -- and if you do, cheers! Before you take a celebratory swig today, you should know how to prevent an untimely headache tomorrow. In fact, there are plenty of little-known facts to this Mexican libation you should brush up on, from what makes a bad tequila to what makes the best mixer. We asked tequila expert Justin Wilson, director of food and beverage at San Diego resort Rancho Valencia
, all of our "burning" questions. Read below and thank us mañana.
"The difference between silver and gold is aging. The more you age a tequila, the darker it will get," Wilson says. "A silver tequila is a tequila that has not been aged in oak. (Blancos are bottled or stored immediately after distillation.)" A reposado, meaning 'rested,' has been aged in oak for two months, , but less than one year, Wilson tells us, while an añejo, meaning 'rested,' has aged for a minimum of a year, but less than three, and an extra añejo, meaning 'extra aged,' has aged a minimum of three years.
"A good tequila is a tequila made of 100-percent Weber Blue Agave, and it has no added sugars or extras, which give the infamous tequila hangover," Willson says. "What we think of as 'bad tequila' is what's called a mixto, which is 51-percent tequila distilled from Weber Blue Agave, and 49-percent sugar, molasses, food coloring, and other elements. We wouldn't call a bottle of wine with 49-percent food coloring and sugar water "wine," but technically Mexico still allows this to be called tequila."
"Drink 100-percent Weber Blue Agave tequilas," Wilson says. "Basically, drink the good stuff, and you will be alright."
"A sipping tequila is a new term used to describe old tequila -- barrel-aged tequila," Wilson says. "You generally want to use a blanco (not aged) tequila for mixing, but I've seen some reposados mixed. Mixing an añejo or extra añejo may not be blasphemous, but it would be wasteful."
rojo with a shot of blanco is the perfect mix."
"Simple. A good blanco, freshly squeezed lime juice, Cointreau -- one-third of each."
1. "Drinking only a pure tequila is less likely to give you a headache than most cocktails as there are no added sugars."
2. "Gold tequila is aged. All tequila is silver. Silver tequila was not invented by Patrón -- though they can be credited as the first to introduce 100-percent Weber Blue Agave to the U.S."
3. "A lime and a salt rim is a sign you are drinking bad tequila and is not complementary to the product. Salt and a lime are meant to mask the product. Try a proper sangrita
. Come to the Pony Room to see it done right."
Photographs: Courtesy of Rancho Valencia
||"Clase Azul is the highest-end tequila. 100% craft and small production."Clase Azul Tequila Añejo, $450, Tequila Superstore
||"DeLeon is a wonderful product that is about half as much as Clase Azul."DeLeon Tequila Añejo, $150, Bottle Shop
||"My all-time favorite (and an industry favorite) is Fortaleza, from the original family that owned Sauza (and sold it to the American distributor when they insisted on mass production."Fortaleza Añejo Tequila, $75, K&L Wines