Tequila – it is a drink often paired with a wince. But to celebrate World Tequila Day on Sunday 24 July, we spoke to Tequila connoisseur Conor Wale of Transit Rooftop Bar in Fed Square to get the insider tips on the often divisive drink..
Traditionally, how should Tequila be drunk?
Traditionally Tequila should be drunk straight just like a good whiskey. The way I drink Tequila depends on what Tequila I am drinking – a good Tequila will be on the rocks or neat, and an average Tequila in a Margarita or a Duke 75 with some Mezcal. I personally love a Tequila shot as I sip on a good beer – most of the time it’ll be Calle 23 Blanco.
People usually think of a Margarita when they think of a Tequila cocktail – is it worth the hype?
Margaritas are awesome, they are a classic for a reason. They are quick and easy to make and appeal to many different palettes; margaritas in the sun, what more could you want! I will always love the traditional Margarita – it will never go out of fashion – but my favourite variation is the Platinum Margarita Calle 23 Blanco, with lemon and lime juice, Grand Marnier and Elderflower liqueur and a half salt rim.
Do you have a favourite brand of Tequila?
I can’t say I have a favourite Tequila because there are so many ways I enjoy drinking it, but at the top of the list would be Clase Azul Reposado, Calle 23 Blanco, Ocho Reposado, and Siembra Valles Blanco. Blancos will always be my favourite for an Old Fashioned or a shot because it lets you appreciate what a good quality un-aged Tequila should taste like – it still has that earthiness to it. Clase Azul Reposado is great as a sipping Tequila on the rocks or neat – you can really taste the passion, time and effort the Don (Tequila Master Distiller) has put into it, and understand and appreciate why it has taken 8-10 years to create. And Ocho Reposado is just plain awesome! It is so versatile – you can shot it, mix it or sip on it.
What is the difference between brown and clear Tequila? What should they be mixed with, or should they be mixed at all?
There is no such thing as a brown Tequila! Mezcal is generally darker than Tequila, but it is in another category. Tequila will only be named Blanco, Silver, Plata, Platinum or White, which means un-aged. Reposado means rested, Anejo means aged, and Extra Anejo is ultra-aged. If you see a bottle with gold or anything describing the colour it is generally a Mixto which is not made from 100% blue agave and therefore isn’t a genuine Tequila. When it comes to mixing a Tequila, it all comes down to everyone’s individual preference. There are defiantly ingredients that work better than others but with enough experimenting and trying new things everyone will find out how they like to mix it in a cocktail or whether they want to have it straight – all the great cocktails and drinks came from people just trying new things.
Can you make any suggestions for Tequila food matching?
I can drink Tequila with anything, I just love it! It is of course great with Mexican food, but I suggest pairing it with our delicious candied pork, seared scallops, pickled papaya & red nam jim dish from Taxi Kitchen or Transit.
Is the Tequila worm actually a thing?!
It’s a common misconception that Tequila has a worm in it but it actually doesn’t. Mezcal occasionally has a worm or scorpion in it and is more smokey, but no, Tequila doesn’t have a worm!
What is your favourite Tequila cocktail recipe?
A Tequila Old Fashioned, with Siembra Valles Blanco, orange bitters and a dash of Demerara sugar syrup, stirred down and served Sazerac style in a nice crystal tumbler. Salud!
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