Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican victory over the French Empire during the Battle of Puebla in 1862. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage with parades, parties, Mexican folk dancing, traditional foods and, of course, the famous Margarita! But first… the tequila.
Tequila comes from the Agave plant. After harvesting, the piñas (the succulent core of the plant) are slowly baked in ovens. They are then shredded or mashed under a large stone wheel. The extracted agave juice is poured into either large wooden or stainless steel vats for several days to ferment. It is distilled once and then a second time to produce the clear “silver” tequila. From there, it is either bottled as a blanco or it is pumped into wooden barrels to age; hence the amber color and the more mellower taste.
Categories of Tequila
Blanco white or silver which is unaged and bottled immediately after distillation, in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels
Reposado meaning rested and aged a minimum of two months in oak barrels
Añejo vintage aged a minimum of one year in small oak barrels
Extra Añejo extra aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels
Tequilas range in price. Probably the most common top-shelf brand is Patron Silver, averaging about $60/bottle. Other notable brands are:
Avion Anejo $67
Danos Dangerous $50
Casamigos Blanco $45
Espolon Blanco $27
Jose Cuervo $29
Clase Azul Reposado $159
It is believed that Margaritas originated in Baja, California sometime in the 1940’s. The original version was the typical recipe- tequila, sweetener, and lime mixer. One of the most popular Margaritas is made with Silver Tequila, such as Don Julio, mixed with Cointreau as the sweetener and the juice of a fresh lime. The mixture is shaken and poured into a glass dipped in salt or tajin (a seasoning mix consisting of dried and ground red chilies and sea salt).
Today there are many different variations and combinations of the libation. These include adding cucumbers, jalapeños, mint, cilantro, basil or fruits such as pineapple, strawberries and raspberries. Check out this fresh recipe to enjoy this evening!