Tequila started its life in present day Mexico with the ancient Aztec, Otomie and Nahuatl tribes fermenting agave juice for use in ceremonies, though at the time it would have been known as octli or pulque. It wasn't actually called tequila until sometime in the 16th century, and no one knows exactly how it got that name. The ceremonies and rituals would have included anything from human sacrificial ceremonies to orgies, and it was even worshiped as an earthly image of a goddess who had 400 breasts used to feed her 400 children.
Similar to the tequila of today, this pulquw was made using the agave plant but various different processes and parts of the plant were used that aren't used today. That all changed when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 1500's and quickly ran out of the brandy they brought. They immediately began distilling alcohol from the native Agave plants and used a distillation process similar to that of traditional brandy, which in turn created a spirit similar to present day tequila and mezcal. This all occurred near the area that is presently the center of tequila production and close to the town of Tequila (though the town wasn't established until 1656).
Demand for the new alcohol grew rapidly and the the first mass producing distillery opened in 1600. Later, in 1758, the King of Spain granted Jose Antonio Cuervo the first license to commercially produce tequila and the now popular Jose Cuervo brand was born.
Today Mexican law states that tequila can only be produced in specific states of Mexico, a law the United States, along with most of the world, agrees with by only recognizing tequila distilled in Mexico as----tequila. The spirit has become popular the world over, with 43 million gallons consumed annually and the U.S. accounting for 30% or 13 million gallons of that yearly total--nicely done USA!!!
So on National Tequila Day grab some tequila, mix it up in your favorite cocktail -- or use one of the tasty recipes below -- and lift a glass to tequila, its history and the great Mexican distillers responsible for making the tasty spirit. (Hint: To limit hangovers when over indulging look for higher percentage agave, the closer to 100% the better!!)
OK, I know I said I was going to come up with something besides a Margarita to use tequila in but it is simply too hard to steer away from this tried and true classic. The recipe below uses the classic 3-2-1 recipe and is more in line with the original Margarita versus the sugary concoctions you'll find at most neighborhood cookie cutter bars.
- 1.5 ounces of tequila
- 1 ounces of a good triple sec (Cointreau)
- .5 ounce fresh lime juice
- Salt for rimming
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake.
- Pour into a chilled martini glass with salted rim
- Garnish with lime
The Paloma is a light and fruity tequila drink perfect for a warm summer afternoon.
- 2 ounces blanco or reposado tequila
- 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Salt for rimming (optional)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Rim a Collins glass with salt
- Add lime juice, grapefruit juice and sugar, stir until sugar has dissolved
- Add tequila and fill with ice
- Top off with soda water
- Garnish with grapefruit wedge
This tequila version of a Black Russian may sound weird at first but give it a try and you'll be pleasantly surprised. (Simply add cream or milk to make it a Tequila Dirty Bird.)
- Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice
- Add tequila
- Add coffee liqueur