Tequila has come a long way. The former spring break drink of choice is now a favorite of top bartenders around the country. That’s not to mention the selection of premium brands to choose from. But there are still all-too-common misconceptions about the liquor. So with Cinco de Mayo just a few weeks away, we decided to set the record straight, with the help of agave-spirits expert and Liquor.com advisory board member Jacques Bezuidenhout. ¡Salud!
There’s a worm in the bottle.
A bottle of tequila, according to Bezuidenhout, has never and should never have a worm in it. Some low-grade mezcals (a spirit which shares many similarities with but is not the same as tequila) can contain a worm. But no matter what kind of alcohol you’re buying, a worm (or any other creature) in the bottle is a very bad sign.
Margaritas are the only tequila cocktails.
We love Margaritas and the occasional shot, but tequila can also be used in a wide range of other concoctions. From classics like the Paloma and with Sangrita to new creations like the St-Rita and Mexican Punch, there are lots to explore.
It’s cactus juice.
Contrary to popular belief, tequila is not made from a cactus but instead agave. The agave plant is forbidding, with pointy needles and sharp leaves, but it’s actually a member of a different botanical order, asparagales, making it a relative of the yucca plant and Joshua tree. It takes several years for the agave to mature fully, and the best brands usually harvest when the plants are about a decade old.
You can’t mix aged tequilas.
On the road promoting Partida Tequila, Bezuidenhout often hears that one should only use silver (also known as blanco or plata) tequila in cocktails and only sip aged spirits straight. “That’s rubbish,” he says. In fact, he recommends using a reposado in a Margarita or a fine añejo in a spicy spin on the Old Fashioned.
Tequila is only for shots.
Usually if you ask for tequila in a bar or someone’s home, it will be served in a shot glass. While that may good for slammers, Bezuidenhout recommends treating the spirit as you would a single malt Scotch. A wine glass, a Champagne flute or even a rocks glass will allow it to open up. “You want to enjoy the aromas, flavors and nuances,” he says.
Learn more about tequila and get lots more cocktail recipes in our tequila guide.