How to serve

Strongly associated with Mexican national identity, tequila is subject to numerous stringent regulations. A Mexican eau de vie, tequila is made from the fermentation and then distillation of agave juice; it can only be produced in five Mexican states, from a particular variety of agave: Tequilana Weber Azul, commonly known as blue agave.

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  • Cuisson de l
  • Alambic de distillation © José Cuervo
  • Dégustation de téquila accompagnée de citron vert © José Curvo

The way that tequila should be drunk is surrounded by a mixture of folklore and tradition.

Shot or cuernito?

Like all of the best eaux de vie, traditional tequila, whether it is white or aged, must be treated with respect. Tequila should be enjoyed neat in a shot glass (known as a caballito) for the reposado, or a brandy glass for the añejo, to appreciate the subtle agave flavour, the expertise of the distiller and, in the case of aged tequila, of the cellar master. It will reveal much more of its flavour at room temperature than if it is served ice-cold. Blanco tequila is always drunk in a cocktail.

“To the devil with salt, limes and margaritas”

Introduced in 1930 to curb a Spanish flu epidemic in northern Mexico, the consumption of tequila with salt and lime has become a classic ritual: it consists of placing a pinch of salt on your tongue, swallowing a mouthful of tequila and then immediately sucking on a wedge of lime. Traditional tequila, whether it is white or aged, should be treated with respect. It is best drunk neat to appreciate the subtle agave flavour, the expertise of the distiller and, in the case of aged tequila, of the cellar master. A tequila will reveal much more of its flavour at room temperature than if it is served ice-cold.
As for the belief held by many drinkers that tequila = margarita, this developed from various practices dating from the end of the 1930s. These reached their peak in the 1990s, when some producers went as far as to offer pre-mixed margaritas, in an effort to draw in a new clientele.