Mezcal has been the quinoa of the booze world these last few years, with too many goofily suspendered bartending types waxing overly rhapsodic on its particular qualities. But tequila, technically a type of mezcal (N.B. the former originates from Jalisco, the latter from Oaxaca), still reigns in the American imagination.
National Tequila Day is this Sunday, July 24. And while the summer swelter might have you bending to the temptation of slushy frozen Lime-a-Ritas, we encourage you to take the higher road to agave enlightenment. And to guide you through the serious stuff, we conferred with DJ Brown, spirits guru at Añejo in Hell’s Kitchen. Along with its equally sexy Tribeca outpost, they’ve become go-to destinations for NYC’s more discriminating connoisseurs of fine Mexican spirits (not to mention the amazing eats). Indeed, the Village Voice voted their margarita as the absolute best in all of New York. Seriously.
And so with July 24 just two days away, here is BlackBook and Añejo‘s five step guide to tequila nirvana.
Casa Noble Single Barrel Joven
102 proof and aged for 6 weeks in French Oak Barrels. While Casa Noble is widely known, their Single Barrel Joven is a bit more obscure. Stone fruits and warm, sweet vanilla make this tequila best served neat, with its smooth finish.
Aged in American Oak for 8 months and served in hand blown glass bottles, this tequila looks great on the shelf and makes a fantastic margarita. A mix of cinnamon and vanilla balance well against fresh squeezed lime and agave, and gives the margarita a perfect smooth and full mouth feel.
Ocho Plata 2015 “La Rivera”
Each year the Ocho batch is produced with agave from one field and is labeled as such. This low land tequila is full bodied and tastes of sweet cooked agave and ripe fruit mixed with pepper and a hint of smoke. Preferred on the rocks or in a Paloma.
An Añejo with a complex blend of varying ages and barrels. Starting with French oak and ending 4 years later in American oak, 1146 is deep in color and complexity. Upfront caramel, raisin, oak, and almond set the stage for the herbaceous finish of white pepper, jalapeno, ginger and oregano, all the while wrapped in the warm spiciness typical of an Añejo tequila.
Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva Extra Anejo
Aged 4 years in French and American Oak, Excelencia is the “after dinner” tequila. The rich, oaky body and blend of earth, oak, brown sugar and chocolate make this the perfect for sipping, to pair with or have as dessert.