Tequila will always be connected to Mexico, home of the blue agave plant this enticing spirit is made from. Whether consumed as straight shots or mixed beverages, tequila has an avid following. If music is any gauge, this fan base has been around for decades: Jim Reeves recorded Drinking Tequila in 1955. There are many more songs about the effects of this Latin Lover: Ten Rounds with José Cuervo; Till All the Tequila is Gone; Hey Nineteen; Tequila Sunrise; Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off; Tequila Loves Me; Margaritaville; and of course, Tequila by the Champs. (I like the club remix by Pistel, with the bass way up.)
That much music about tequila (with plenty more waiting in the wings) lets you know that this drink isn’t any plain-vanilla spirit!
Some folks say tequila is only for drinking (or mixed drinks), not pairing with food. Tequila actually goes well with all kinds of food. Maybe I should say “good food.” The Teri Polo menu of champagne, tequila and Krispy Kreme donuts, consumed while in bed, probably doesn’t fit that category.
Some classic options: Chicken tacos; skirt steak for fajitas; or any of these. Here’s a guide for pairing the various styles of tequila (blanco, reposado, añejo) with dishes. Remember these simple guidelines. Blanco is lighter, fresher, and goes well with salads. Añejo is longer-aged in barrels, smooth and a bit woody, and goes well with anything off the grill (for starters). In any case, always follow your palate. Just as with wine or whiskey, it’s not what the experts think that makes the experience for you!
Want something different? Try pork chops marinated in tequila and pineapple juice; shrimp ceviché with minced habaneros; or simply grill a steak with butter and onions and enjoy.
Now that you’ve had a great meal with a splash of tequila on the side, time to get serious about mixing some tequila cocktails. There’s the classic margarita, of course. Or fruit variations. Frozen or on the rocks, any of these are tasty.
However, the classic margarita may be a bit too “commercial” for many palates. If so try this spicy tamarind-cinnamon version.
Lots of other cocktails can be whipped up using tequila. How ‘bout an Old Fashioned, invented by Chef Philip Ward? Cinco de Mayo happens about the time of the Kentucky Derby; make the Blackberry Mint Julep to honor both! Or maybe the Bloody Mariachi, if you like tomato flavor like me.
At the end, you’ll want a dessert with tequila too. Shooters are popular these days: Tequila-Lime Pie is tops. (Pie; that’s the reason.) Or make up some tequila cream and serve with mixed fresh berries. Tequila-Lime-Coconut Macaroon Bars are light and easy to make.
Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong with tequila. Even if your choice is the simple salt, tequila and lime tradition. So much tequila, so little time…
Enjoy the (Latin Spirits) Heat!