By law, tequila can only be made in Mexico from blue agave plants raised in the state of Jalisco (and a few surrounding counties) in order to be called tequila.

While there are thousands of agave farms around Jalisco, most agave is purchased and grown exclusively for tequila makers large and small. Harvested agave is sent to more than 100 distilleries making more than 900 brands of tequila in Mexico. Because there are a limited number of distilleries, many brands of tequila come from the same location.

The best tequila is made from agave harvested at a maturity of 8 to 12 years. The harvest is steamed in ovens for up to 72 hours before being cooled and shredded to extract the juice. The juice is then fermented with yeast for up to 8 days.

Potted Agave Plant
Potted Agave Plant

Aka mescal, this beverage is made from the maguey plant,  a form of agave native to Mexico. The word mezcal derives from a native phrase meaning 'oven cooked agave.' Most mezcal is made in Oaxaca, Mexico.

As a marketing gimic, some mezcals from Oaxaca are con gusano, with a worm in the bottle. The worm is actually the larval form of the moth Hypopta agavis that lives on the agave plant.

Unlike tequila, mezcal can be made from a variety of agave plants. The distillation process involves crushing the agave hearts using a traditional millstone, after roasting them in earthen pits – giving it a signature smoky, smooth flavor.

Blue Agave
Tequilas labeled "100% Blue Agave" are generally better than blends with a lower percentage. To be called tequila, this liquor must contain at least 51% blue agave; sugarcane is the most commonly used blend ingredient.

More closely related to asparagus than cactus, agave has been cultivated by Mesoamerican peoples for over 9,000 years.  The plant takes 8-12 years to mature. At harvest, agave is cut off at the root and trimmed of its leaves to get at the heart, called the piña, which contains a sweet juice called aguamiel. The hearts are steamed or roasted at a distillery to extract their sugars. The cooked agave is then shredded and fermented for several days before being distilled in pot stills to about 150 proof.

Categories of Tequila

By Mexican law, there are four categories of tequila:

Blanco. Also known as white, silver, or plata, this tequila is bottled without aging and has a smooth, herbaceous and almost peppery flavor.
Joven Abocado. Also called gold, this is an unaged blanco with flavoring or coloring added, usually with caramel.
Reposado. Sometimes called gold, this tequila is aged a minimum of two months, often in oak casks, and usually has a more mellow character than a blanco.
Anejo. Aged a minimum of one year, these premium tequilas have a smooth, elegant flavor like a fine congnac.


Tequila Ghost
2 oz. tequila
1 oz. Pernod or another anise-flavored liqueur
1 T. lemon juice
Shake ingredients with ice, strain into a glass, garnish with lime

Tequila Sunrise
3 T. tequila
6 oz. orange juice
1 oz. grenadine
orange slice
Add tequila to chilled glass with ice. Pour in orange juice to with 1 inch of rim. Add grenadine, which settles to bottom of glass. Garnish with orange.

National Margarita Day

Designated as February 22 (2/22) each year in the U.S., this day celebrates the most popular tequila-based cocktail in America.

To make a margarita, add equal parts tequila blanco and Cointreau (or Triple Sec) mixed with fresh lime juice.  Serve in a chilled glass with a salted rim.


Helping Women Lower Their Standards for Years
Tequila Glass
Tequila Glass
Tequila Shooter
Tequila Shooter
Salt and Pepper Set
Tequila and Margharita Salt and Pepper Set


Reviewed in The Nature Pages

In Good Spirits
One tequila
Two tequila
Three tequila
... floor
A man walks into a bar and orders 12 shots of tequila from the bartender.
As he downs the 10th shot, the bartender says, "I don't think you should be drinking those so fast."

As he downs the 11th, the man says, "You would if you have what I have."

"Well, what do you have?"

The man throws back the last shot and says, "Fifty cents.'
When life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt!

The Drunken Botanist
The Drunken Botanist

By law, tequila can only be made from Agave tequilana 'Weber Blue,' a cultivar named after a French military physician and part-time botanist who was sent to Mexico under Napoleon III. He was the first to describe the plant in botanical literature.

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