Friday, May 5: Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Agave Cocina & Tequilas with beautiful music, food and drink specials, a taco stand, and much more. Agave opens at 11 am to celebrate the day. ¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Tequila often elicits a love/hate reaction from casual drinkers, more than any other type of liquor. For some, it’s an acquired taste that rewards with subtle, sophisticated flavors. However, the popularity of tequila in the U.S. has led to a deluge of inexpensive tequila brands. This, more than anything else, has given many people the wrong impression about tequila.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, Federico Ramos, chef and co-owner of Agave Cocina & Tequilas Issaquah shared this introduction into the world of tequila. Agave Cocina, which produces its own private label tequila, offers one of the region’s largest selections of fine sipping tequilas. According to Ramos, you won’t want to blend these tequilas with juices or take shots—they are best savored like a fine whiskey or wine.
What qualifies as tequila?
By Mexican law, almost all products advertised as tequila must come from Tequila, Jalisco, a state in central Mexico. In order for a spirit to be officially recognized as tequila, it must contain at least 51 percent blue agave plant distillate.
How is tequila made?
Its origin can be traced more than 1,000 years to the Aztecs and their fermented milky drink, pulque. Tequila is made from the cooked and fermented juice of the blue agave plant.
By taking the heart of an agave plant and steaming it, tequila producers shred the heart (known as the piña) to obtain a juice called aguamiel. Then, the aguamiel is mixed with cane sugar and yeast, and fermented for several days. The juice is distilled twice in copper pots and reaches 90-proof or higher.
What are the varieties of tequila?
Blanco: bottled immediately following distillation, some are aged for a short period of time.
Reposado: aged between 2 to 12 months in oak barrels.
Joven: a mixture of blanco and reposado tequilas.
Añejo: aged between 1 to 3 years in oak barrels. Extra Añejo is aged 3 years or more.
Mixto: contains less than 100% blue agave, usually mixed with sugars or other spirits.
What are the best types of tequila?
There’s debate in this area. Some tequila lovers consider blanco to be the only pure tequila because it has the authentic taste of blue agave. However, aging tequila tends to bring about different flavor characteristics depending on the type and age of barrel used—and these appeal to different palates. For example, some tequilas are aged inside bourbon barrels, which add spices and darker textures to the flavor profile while softening the bite. Among most tequila connoisseurs, mixto and joven tequilas are considered inferior to blanco and añejo varietals.
Ready to impress your friends with your knowledge? Agave Cocina & Tequilas offers all of the above tequila varieties at Grand Ridge Plaza. Ramos recommends enjoying an Agave Tequila Flight to compare the finest tequilas. He’ll be happy to guide you through each tequila, sharing insights on the manufacturing process and best pairings for your meal.
Photo credit: Shubha Tirumale for Grand Ridge PlazaREAD MORE