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Looking the greatest Tequila Cocktail for Memorial Day? Look no further

IMG_6971Back in 2009 I had the good fortune to eat at a restaurant called Hungry Mother, in Cambridge, MA (which has since closed) and I was literally stopped in my tracks by this incredible mixed drink. This is notable since I don’t like mixed drinks and I like my tequila straight.

The drink was simply called “Drink #57” and basically tastes like a delicious, refreshing lemonade, which is not what you would think from looking at the ingredients! You might immediately conclude that it would taste bad, because the ingredients call for mixing sour lemon, beer and tequila.  But if you love lemonade, you will love it.

I loved this drink so much that for months I tried to reproduce it home. When I realized I couldn’t, I knew I would have to ask them for the recipe. Rachel at the Hungry Mother thoughtfully provided the recipe:

DRINK # 57 (Hungry Mother Cocktail)

Fill High Ball glass with ice and build:

  • 3/4 oz Don Julio Tequila
  • 3/4 oz Becherovka
  • 1.5 oz Sour Mix (equal parts fresh squeezed lemons and simple syrup, which is 1 part sugar to 1 part water)
  • Roll once ( one stir )
  • Top with Ale – we were serving it with the Smutty Nose Star Island Single, but now have changed that to Mayflower Brewing Golden Ale … not sure which you had, but any bright ale would serve the purpose.

Robert’s 57

Of course, Hungry Mother is a great restaurant and they have professional bar tools and everything.  I found that nearly the same drink could be made by using the three ingredients in the picture:

  • Patron Silver Tequila
  • Stirrings Sour Lemon
  • White Harpoon UFO

In a tall beer glass, add tequila and sour lemon in a 1:2 ratio, whether you’re using a 1.5 oz jigger or 1 oz shot glass. Top with beer.  Mix!  (I am no mixologist)

That’s it!  Thanks Hungry Mother, and if you’re in Kendall Square, check out their new restaurant, State Park (for take out during the pandemic).

Brilliant Blancos!

Brilliant blancos (and Dobel, which is clear, but a reposado)

Brilliant blancos (and Dobel, which is clear, but a reposado)

Excuse this picture, it contains Maestro Dobel, which is not a blanco, but a reposado that’s been double-distilled, and so is clear (sort of the opposite of a Joven).  However, its crisp, clean taste and clear appearance mean it is often confused for a blanco at a bar.  On the store shelves you can see Dobel has a collection including a reposado ‘classico’ that is not clear and blanco that is not as tasty.  They also have a Humito, which I have not had, but seems like a Mezcal (smoky flavor) they are calling a tequila.  The Diamante though, is a great starter for anyone who is not familiar with Tequila, because it is so smooth.   Likewise for Tequila Cabeza’s and Villa Lobos.  These are great starters pre-food because they are simple, have a snap, little burn and a nice aftertaste. If you love a high end blanco, the Milagro Select Barrel (more expensive) deserves to be in this company.

Extraordinary Añejos

Some of the best tasting tequila ever concocted.

Some of the best tasting tequila ever concocted.

I have written about the ArteNom tequilas and it should be noted that while every bottle they produce is worth buying and drinking, especially their Anejo, the Clase Azul Añejo is so crazily delicious that it might knock ArteNom off its throne.

You may know Clase Azul from its unique blue and white porcelain bottle and its best of class reposada.  The anejo, which is prohibitively expensive, even more so than an extra añejo and not easy to find, is a special bottle that likely deserves the extra effort and attention.  Their website does a good of explaining how they make the tequila and how ‘every bottle is a one-of-a-kind work of art. That just tells me that art-haters who are budget-conscious tequila lovers should have an option of getting it in some plain bottle, too.

Did I say it was prohibitively expensive? If you’re not sure you want to go on the journey, I recommend you try the reposado (about $85-$100) because it is a good reposado (except for artenom) that you will find.  Once you’ve savored that, and your mind is blow that is another level of smoothness you could get to, you might want to embark.

And then, if perhaps you hit the lottery, you can seek out the $2,000 bottle of Clase Azul “Ultra” that is aged for five years and each bottle, according to their website, “features a 24k gold label and is hand-painted using pure liquid platinum by Mexico’s most talented artisans. Adorned with the signature Clase Azul agave medallion in .925 Ley sterling silver, each bottle is truly one of a kind!”  So if your stimulus check is burning a whole in your wallet and you love tequila and precious metals, this is the one to get!  But don’t forget to have me over for a taste when you get it.

The Joy of Extra Anejos

Extra Anejos more often than not, are worth the $$.

Extra Anejos more often than not, are worth the $$.

Even if you don’t know about all the kinds of tequilas there are, you probably have discerned that there are different colors of tequila, and that the one you buy is probably called ‘white,’ ‘blanco’ or ‘silver,’ because you have purchased it for mixing.

I am no expert, just a tequila-lover, but I have found that every ‘class’ of tequila is different. That is, knowing the ‘type’ you like may not regularly result in a good tequila drinking experience.  And while blanco, reposado and anejo have very mixed results, I have found that Extra Anejos, most often, though not always, are pretty reliable.

The thee pictured here: Diabolito, Tapatio Excelencia and the Arette Gran Clase are among best tequilas I have ever tasted.  They are all very very smooth, and not at all viscous (a bad quality in any drink but chilled Sambuca).  They are deliciously nuanced drinks, have little burn and finish with warm, caramel notes.

These rich, well constructed tequilas are great if you are trying to win over people who have been scarred by a Cuervo or alternate Joven tequila, or fans of good Rums or Bourbons.

These are sipping tequilas.  They should not be mixed and while it’s fun to shoot, it does deprive you of the pleasure of enjoying it slowly and purposefully.  They cost between $100 and $150 (and sometimes more) and so that’s another reason not to shoot them.

The Diabolito is part of the organic 1-2-3 series which are all excellent and deserve to be in your liquor cabinet.   I am not a regular buyer of other Tapatio tequilas but their blanco is fun. I am surprised at how much I love the Arette because I really do not like their lesser grades— they even have a $23 bottle that is very close to Jose Cuervo (especial) and that is not good.  Once again, the label ‘extra anejo’ does not guarantee a great drink, but I can tell you about three that are worth every penny.

 

 

My Five Tenets of Tequila

These aren't really tequilas but I think they make the point: cheap yellow (often "joven") is to be avoided, no matter what your budget.

These aren’t really tequilas but I think they make the point: cheap yellow (often “joven”) is to be avoided, no matter what your budget.

If I told you how many times I was at a liquor store, in any state, lingering over the tequila section, assessing my choices of blue agave weber drinks, trying to discern between the promising labels, pretty bottles and half-remembered reviews which one I should get, when my operations would be disturbed by a single person, usually on a cell phone, asking someone which tequila that should get. I know they don’t love tequila, they don’t tequila, and no matter what, they will be consuming it in a way that is likely in conflict with best practices (i.e. with some sugary mix). It is precisely because of these situations that I have been forced to write about what I would tell them.  I call them the five tenets of tequila:

  1. KNOW YOUR TYPES. You should know what you like, even if you don’t know tequila: there are some that are closer to a vodka, some closer to a rum, and some closer to a scotch.  Their are five standard variants (blanco, joven, reposado, anejo, extra anejo) and then stuff that is kept locked behind glass that you have no business looking at anyway.
  2. PRICE MEANS ALMOST NOTHING. There is no discernible connection between the cost of a tequila and its quality. I have had some amazing $28 bottles and some terrible $100 bottles. That said, the yellow Jose Cuervo is always terrible no matter what the cost is.
  3.  YELLOW IS CHEAP AND CHEAP IS BAD. The ubiquitous Jose Cuervo that I, and maybe you, drank in college, is not representative of all tequilas and should be avoided at all costs, even as a prank. No amount of mixer will make it taste good or mitigate its effect on your body.  You may also traumatize a group of people for years to come from enjoying tequila.  Many “Joven” types of tequila have stuff added, or have bad stuff not taken out. Besides yellow, if it’s on the bottom shelf, comes in a gallon size, or has other flavors added to it (cinnamon, coffee, mango) avoid at all costs.
  4. NIGHT OF TEQUILA DRINKING? AVOID MIXING.  Every human is different, but mixing tequila and other alcohol beverages results in a sub-optimal experience. Some pair nicely (like beer) but others not so much.  Experiment at your own risk.
  5. BE A STRAIGHT SHOOTER.  I know there’s no accounting for taste, but with the wide world of tequilas out there, there is every reason to find one that you can sip, drink with a little lemon/lime or soda/water on the rocks, or shoot straight. Many different bottles require a different treatment.  Skip the margarita, which adds unnecessary calories, and blocks the true savoring of the tequila.