The 5th May is a big day in the world of tequila, although not necessarily in Mexico itself as it is not their national day but a celebration of the success in the battle of Peubla in 1862. The Mexican army were fighting against the much larger and better equipped French forces and won this particular battle hence the day of celebration. Incidentally, the national day of Mexico is September the 16th (Mexican Independence day).
So why do we celebrate 5th of May? The Mexican population living in America tend to celebrate it more than the people living in Mexico but they are also more likely to celebrate the 4th of July too as this is the national day of their adopted country. The Americans just love to party and drink tequila, and with the amount of tequila sold in America it is a big opportunity for the tequila brands to shift some bottles.
Since the second world war tequila has become a big business in the US and the rest of the world, the sales of Tequila in the USA increased from just under a billion dollars in 2003 to $2.5 billion in 2013 as the tequila makers started to move their brands away from a shot and ritual (salt/lime) spirit to a more refined mixing and sipping spirit like whisky. Taking their cues from other spirit categories as well as understanding their consumer a bit better has led to the growth of the 100% agave tequila as well as the increase in aged tequilas. The increase in the more premium 100% agave tequila which allows for differences in terroir (the regions soil, climate & environmental factors) to influence the flavour of the spirit is a relatively new addition to the tequila category certainly in the UK. Previously, mixto tequila was the most common style available and was usually the one that was consumed with a wedge of lime and a sprinkle of salt. Certainly, bartenders and their guests who have a taste for tequila are moving away from mixto and into 100% agave and in some cases are looking for tequila from specific parts of the region too.
Whisky and other spirits have made a big deal about the maturation process and how this changes the nature of the liquid to make a richer, smoother spirit. Using different types of oak or other wood, placing the barrels in different warehouses, using different barrels that have contained other spirits or wines before all have an effect on the flavour of the spirit and of course add a nice dimension to the brand story.
The tequila super brands have begun releasing longer aged tequilas that have spent at least four years in wood and in some cases up to seven years to appeal to the aged spirit connoisseurs. As we know Mexico is a hot country unlike Scotland and the agave is a delicate tasting plant and doesn’t like spending too much time in the barrel so the distillers have to use cooler warehouses to make sure the agave flavour is not dominated by the oak. However, the aged spirit consumers are often more impressed by the sweet spice notes of the barrel and how they complement the flavour of the agave. One other point to make, these longer aged tequilas are not inexpensive and taking cues from the other spirit categories the brand owners know that older usually means more cost.
Mixed drinks such as the margarita (killer bartender fact; a billion margaritas are drunk every year in the USA)* are still massively important to the tequila industry and in many cases are how many people are introduced to the spirit. Other drinks like the El Diablo, Paloma, Japanese slipper and Sangrita are also great ways of getting your guests into drinking tequila without having to offer a piece of citrus fruit and salt!!
*bartender facts may not be wholly accurate
Tequila Cocktail Recipes
35ml Blanco tequila
15ml Crème de cassis
Top with ginger ale
Build over cubed ice in a highball glass and garnish with a lime wedge.
50ml Reposado tequila
15ml Lime juice
Top with grapefruit soda
Build over cubed ice in a salt edged highball glass and garnish with a lime wedge
35ml Blanco tequila
10ml Lime juice
10ml Lemon juice
1 Bar spoon caster sugar
Dash egg white
Dry shake, then shake over cubed ice and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.
20ml Blanco tequila
20ml Sweet vermouth
Build over cubed ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a lime twist.
15ml Tomato juice
15ml Orange juice
10ml Lime juice
Dash of chilli sauce
Dash of grenadine
Salt & pepper
Make a batch, stir over cubed ice and strain into a shot glass and serve with a shot of your favourite tequila. Remember, sip don’t shoot!