Today is National Tequila Day, the annual celebration of one of the most underappreciated, inappropriately maligned, and sneakily complex spirits in the world. But tequila and its cousin, mezcal, are finally getting their due. Mixologists are crafting it into some seriously delicious drinks (this past weekend, I tucked into the transporting Esta Tierra Es Tuya cocktail at Philadelphia’s Hop Sing Laundromat, a combination of mezcal, chamomile, egg whites, and love), and new connoisseurs are being converted to the cult of the agave every day.
No wonder. Like great wine, tequila is easy to appreciate on any level at which you choose to interact with it, from simple enjoyment (the sipping-and-conversation school of thought) to the kind of parsing of each glass that wine geeks so intensely revel in. Indeed, tequila, according to a number of sommeliers I’ve spoken with, is uniquely terroir-specific, meaning that it’s a brilliant expresser of the land in which its constituent agave was grown. As a result, it is inextricably tied to its place of origin--something that true lovers of wines and spirits tend to get all hot and bothered over. (I’m including myself here, admittedly...)
I’ll be reporting on a number of tequilas in the coming weeks, but for now, I’d like to heartily recommend you spend tonight either out at a bar with a great tequila selection, or at home with a nice bottle. If you’ll be doing the latter, I’d recommend drinking it slightly chilled, and from a Champagne flute. A few months ago, I hosted a tequila class at COOK Philadelphia with David Suro-Pinera, of the excellent Los Catrines and Tequila’s Bar in Philadelphia--he is also the president of Siembra Azul Tequila--and he recommended tasting it that way. It’s changed my relationship with the nectar of the agave ever since.
Personally, I plan on curling up with a bottle of Herradura Silver, an estate-bottled beauty with distinctive fruit notes on the nose--papaya, seckle pear--as well as evanescent aromas of white licorice, hay, and sandalwood. These turn to subtly sweet flavors of cedar, pear, apple, kumquat skin, mandarin orange pith, white pepper, and a whiff of flowers and vanilla pod, finishing with flashes of corn-like flavors. It’s a beautiful tequila, as easy to intellectualize as it is to sip and enjoy with abandon. Perfect, in other words, for National Tequila Day. Or, for that matter, any other day of the week.