BY: Robert Haynes-Peterson
Even if you spend many hours each week sampling many different kinds of tequila (as I do); even if you’ve traveled to Jalisco, the birthplace and heartland of tequila, many times (as I have), you’re bound to learn something new about Mexico’s preeminent spirit each time you venture south of the border.
I was fortunate to revisit tequila mecca as a media guest of Jose Cuervo’s annual fiesta celebrating the release of the new artist-designed packaging for their up-market label, Reserva de la Familia. This year Cuervo selected emerging Mexican artist Pablo Vargas-Lugo to add flair to the wooden box that each handcrafted, hand-bottled extra añejo Reserva is encased in for delivery to thirsty fans everywhere.
What I’ve learned:
- Despite its reputation as a brand that’s best-known for introducing spring breakers everywhere to tequila, Jose Cuervo makes damn fine tequila. I knew this already (see my review of the 250 Aniversario), and even Cuervo acknowledges the difficulty of changing the public’s perception about the brand. Set aside the hangover-inducing mixtos, Especial Gold and Silver, and consider these other Cuervo offerings:
Tradicional Silver: new to the U.S. but wildly popular in Mexico, it is a pleasant, moderately priced 100% agave blanco.
Platino: a two-year-old upscale blanco that’s carefully crafted from 100% blue Weber agave. This sipping tequila compares effortlessly with Don Julio, Partida and other high-end labels.
Reserva de la Familia: The limited release, extra-yum, extra añejo tequila is as smooth and warm as a fine scotch.
- In Mexico, tequila cocktails seem to be sweeter. The Paloma Tradicional features Cuervo Tradicional Silver and grapefruit juice or, more commonly, Squirt. Margaritas throughout Guadalajara and Tequila are served up heavily sweetened as well, while Tequila and Coke is another popular libation South of the Border.
- Guadalajara may be the friendliest large city on the planet. Whether attending the swank Reserva evening event at Cuervo’s elegantly appointed hacienda or walking back to the hotel at 3 am from a night of debauchery (errr…research), you’re in good hands with the Tapatios (folks from Guadalajara).
- Franz Hajnal, a tequila expert who helped craft Cuervo’s 250 Aniversario, prefers the title “Maestro Tequilero” to describe those few individuals who really know their agave hooch. “Some people call themselves Tequiliers, like Sommeliers, but that is French, and we are Mexican and proud of it,” says Hajnal. “So, Tequilero.”
- B:oost is a potent, blue energy drink (also made and marketed by Jose Cuervo) and makes a bracing blend with tequila. It makes Red Bull and Vodka look like a kiddy drink. Caution: drink only one of these per day (so says the can). It really gives you a booooosttt!
- Tamarind margaritas with Tajin, a chili-lime-salt rub, are inspired genius, plain and simple.
- If you wake up the next day with a bit of a headache and craving Mexican food, you’re in the right place.
The Billionaire’s Margarita
- 1 part Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia
- 1 part Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire
- 2 parts freshly squeezed Lime Juice
- Simple Syrup to taste
- Lightly salt the rim of a martini glass (or use Tajin Fruit Seasoning).
- Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice.
- Shake and strain into glass.
- Garnish with lime wedge or a 30-carat diamond.
- 1 1/2 oz Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver
- 1 can B:oost Energy Drink (only available in Mexico)
- Pour tequila over ice in an old fashioned or other tall glass.
- Top with B:oost and Squirt (optional)
About the Author: Robert Haynes-Peterson, NY Drinks Examiner, is a luxury lifestyle editor and writer who has been covering the worlds of wine and spirits for the past five years. When he’s not trekking to Guadalajara or Cognac in search of the Next Great Drink, he scours New York City’s dives, dens, tiki lounges and speakeasies for the perfect cocktail.
For more info on the wild and crazy trip to the 2010 Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia Fiesta, visit BroBible.com, TheBachelorGuy.com and TheLiquidMuse.com.
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