Screw it, Let’s Say Summer’s Here and Drink Some Amazing Herradura Tequila

My wife believes she can control the weather with the wardrobe choices she makes. If she puts on a flouncy dress and strappy shoes in the morning, the weather better cooperate if it knows what’s good for it. The results of this strategy are mixed, of course, but it feels like the underlying idea is sound, so I’d like to extend it to the calendar. Today is March 21st, the first full day of spring, and if you divide the year into cold weather months (fall and winter) and warm weather months (spring and summer), then it’s safe to say that Summer 2013 has officially arrived, snowflakes notwithstanding. With that in mind, I’d like to welcome the season of sunshine, warm breezes, and beach bunnies with a toast. For our toast, let’s drink something very special, to start it off right. That special drink is Herradura Selección Suprema, and it just might be the finest tequila I’ve ever tasted.

Here’s the thing about Herradura. It’s the real deal. There are certain tequilas out there that are primarily meant for the gringo market, but Herradura is actually popular in Mexico, where people drink lots of tequila and definitely know quality from swill. You won’t see Herradura in rap videos, and the bottles don’t have little platic hats on them, but you will see it in the finest bars and cocktail lounges in Mexico City, and, from what I’ve heard, even in the world’s richest man Carlos Slim‘s house, if you’re so lucky to be invited in. I’ve tasted almost every expression of Herradura, from its base-level blanco (clear, unaged tequila, good neat or in cocktails) to the reposado (which is "rested" in wooden barrels for a few months), to the Herradura Selección Suprema, which is an añejo tequila, aged in wooden barrels for 49 months. As the name suggests, Selección Suprema is their finest offering, and it justifies its $350 price tag with one sip. Yes, that’s a pricey bottle, but it’s worth it. 

So, how do you drink it? First of all, don’t you dare reach for that shaker of salt. Put the shot glass down while you’re at it, this is a sipping tequila. Pour it in a wide-mouthed, bowl-shaped glass like a Glencairn. Don’t add ice, and don’t do the scotch whisky thing and add water. It’s perfect straight from the bottle. Swirl it around a couple of times to get the aroma going and then stick your nose in it. You can review the official tasting notes if you like, but what I get out of it are aromas of vanilla with a slight, almost imperceptible vegetal edge. Raise your glass to toast the start of the best summer ever, then take a sip and let it rest in your mouth for a few seconds. Flavors burst out, one after the other. Caramel, vanilla, dried fruit. The agave’s in there too, of course, but simmered to its sweetest essence, and mellowed out in barrels that keep away that cloying edge you find in cheaper tequilas. It’s the perfect balance of serious and sweet, and it’ll make you stop and think that life is actually quite a beautiful thing. 

And so, if the weather decides to be cheeky, forcing you to imbibe indoors, either pick up a bottle at an upscale retailer like Astor Wines, or drop by a trendy, tequila-focused bar like Mayahuel for a glass. Herradura Selección Suprema is the ultimate expression of the agave plant, and with one sip you’ll be soaking in the warm rays of summer, if only in your mind. 

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listing for Mayahuel; Hamptons Summer 2013 Pre-Preview; More by Victor Ozols; Follow Victor on Twitter]

Summer Spirits to Beat the Heat

It’s summer up here in the Northern Hemisphere, and you’re probably looking for ways to keep cool. The best way, of course, is to sip a nice cold glass of beer, wine, or spirits. Here are a few of my favorites for afternoons under the sun and breezy evenings in shirt sleeves. 

Beer’s as casual as summer itself, and I’m always happy when someone puts an ice-cold bottle of Heineken or Amstel Light in my hand. I also enjoy Samuel Adams Summer Ale, a crisp wheat with a citrus bite, and Samuel Adams Belgian Session, an ale with a quaffability far beyond that of its Flemish cousins. 
When it comes to whiskey, the light and flavorful Gentleman Jack ($32) goes down well on sultry nights. The new Whistlepig Straight Rye ($70) boasts a complex spiciness that leaves you feeling cool. The Macallan Fine Oak 10-Year-Old ($41) is the closest there is to a summer Scotch, with a whiff of leather in the bouquet and a hint of caramel in the finish. 
Rum loves the sun, and the lively Bacardi Oakheart ($15) gives a great little kick to your Cuba Libra. 10 Cane ($30) is made from fresh sugar cane juice with a touch of extra old rum. Appleton 12-Year-Old Rum ($42) makes me feel close to Jamaica, with a playful bite up front and a banana and vanilla finish. It’s dear, but Ron Abuelo Centuria ($130) is amazing. A wave of buttery oak leaves behind a medley of spice notes. 
For tequila, I enjoy Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Silver ($53) with its pleasant grapefruit finish. Herradura Silver ($40) brings out the best in the agave, proof that quality tequila doesn’t have to be aged to drink neat. And Patron XO Dark Cocoa ($25) takes the nighttime chill out of your bones, even if it comes from sitting too close to the air conditioner. 
For oenophiles, summer is a time to grab a crisp white, like the Kim Crawford 2011 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($19), a refined wine from New Zealand with cherry flavors. The elegant Robert Mondavi Reserve Fumé Blanc ($40) from California has an aroma of country air and flavors of apple and pear. And I love Veuve Clicquot Rosé ($70), with its tiny bubbles and dry, fruity notes. 
Summer doesn’t last long so drink it in while you can.