My Five Tenets of Tequila


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 four CRT standards (blanco, reposado, anejo, extra anejo), two common variants (Joven, Cristolino) and then the 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.  These “Mixto” tequilas by law only have to be 51% agave, and have all types of 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.