Ocho tequila

10 Tequilas you should be drinking

There’s a strange sense of responsibility when compiling a list of spirits that I think others should try. I always try to put across a list that covers as many styles as possible, and includes products that I’d gladly recommend to anyone if I was stood at the bar with me. Of course a list of products is always subjective, and there are always others that could have made the list, but the point is to give anyone reading this a starting point, and hopefully to get you thinking, and talking about the category.

Because my knowledge of tequila is good, but I work with someone who knows even more than I do about agave goodness, I thought I’d use this as an excuse to be led through the category by someone else for a change. James Triffo, my business partner in NOLA, helped to launch Partida and Ocho tequilas into the UK, and worked for Tomas Estes of Café Pacifico and Ocho tequila fame, managing one of the La Perla sites in London. When I asked if he’d help me put together a list of 10 Tequilas that would show the breadth of the Tequila category, he suggested we use this as an excuse to do a tasting and maybe get a few Tequila lovers together to talk them through.

Now if you live or work in London, and you like Tequila, then one of the first bars that will jump to mind is Café Pacifico in Covent Garden, so where better to go and taste tequilas? Jesse and Tomas Estes kindly agreed to let us take a corner of the bar, and drink our way through a pretty healthy selection of their back bar. They also let slip about some of the design touches for their new bar, El Nivel, which will be coming soon to the space above La Perla on maiden lane… and trust me this is going to be an agave lover’s paradise! Enlisting the help of fellow Tequila lovers Matthias Lataille (ex Green & Red and now ambassador for Olmeca Altos tequila) and Guy Hodcroft (spirit buyer for Selfridge’s) we set about compiling a list of blanco, reposado and anejo Tequilas. Our original intention was to have a list that covered a range of highland and lowland styles, but as we worked through our samples we all seemed to gravitate towards the Highland style (with the exception of one). Needless to say that dinner, after tasting our way through so many Tequilas, was a lively affair.

So below you’ll find a list of some great Tequilas, all of which I believe offer a fantastic drinking experience. That’s not to say that there aren’t others that are just as good, including many valley or lowland tequilas, just that these offer you a glimpse of the category, and serve as a great jumping off point to start experiencing this amazing spirit. They’re all 100% agave, they reflect a range of prices and styles, and they’re all well made Tequilas that are a pleasure to sip. I hope you’ll try them and maybe find out which ones you enjoy the most!

those old summertime favourites

If you’re in the UK you’ll have been enjoying the unusually early appearance of the sun in our April skies, which of course means that barbecues have been fired up in record numbers over the past week or so. It seems to me that my drinking habits change the moment the sun starts shining and, without even thinking about it, I turn to white spirits and crisp refreshing summer cocktails to keep me cool.
 
 
By nature, I admit, I am a dark spirit drinker. My love of bourbon and aged rums is well documented, and I’m occasionally partial to a drop of cognac, Scotch or even Irish whiskey too, but suddenly I seem to be ordering gin drinks! Suddenly my lime intake has increased and my tequila and white rums are disappearing at an alarming rate. It seems a few rays of sun are all it has taken to remind me of my summer cocktail favourites.
 

Forget about the worm! - tequila part 2

Back at the end of October I wrote about tequila and its much-maligned reputation. The focus then was on blanco or un-aged tequilas, with a little information about the differences between good tequila and bad tequila. I promised a follow up looking at some of my favourite reposado and anejo tequilas, and here it is at last!
 
 
Just as with blanco there seems to be a lack of understanding or confusion about the aged or rested tequilas. It doesn’t help that the lines are quite blurred between the various categories and qualities of what’s available, with many cheaply manufactured mixto tequilas adding caramel colour to give the impression of age. As I said in my previous blog, look out for 100% agave tequilas… anything else is likely to be rough and unpleasant!
 

Forget the salt and lime!

Tequila is perhaps the most maligned of spirits, whose reputation over the years has seen it associated with ending your evening in hospital, a police cell or a gutter. It’s true that there are plenty of tequilas on the market that leave a lot to be desired but it’s also true that there are plenty that are smooth, well balanced and a pleasure to sip.

For the past five years I have been hearing people say that tequila is going to be ‘the next big thing’ in terms of spirits category, but somehow it has never really made it. Certainly the selection on most back bars has grown, and there are more tequila-based cocktails on drinks lists, but from a consumer point of view it hasn’t taken off in the way that other spirits have. Maybe it’s a slow burner or maybe all those late night shots of Jose Cuervo have just put people off forever.