Cinco de Mayo – the best of Mexico with a twist of lime

by Craig Maltby for Club LT

OK, Cinco De Mayo draws nigh. It’s our Mexican St. Patrick’s Day, right? So in this post I’ll celebrate the spirit of old Mexico and another spirit: Tequila. Or, as many college hangover sufferers I know have called it, Tekillya.

First, the holiday. Many people think Cinco De Mayo is the Mexican Independence Day. It isn’t. That holiday in Mexico is Sept. 16, commemorating victory over Spain in Mexico’s War For Independence.

Cinco De Mayo, or the Fifth of May, commemorates Mexico victory over France in some war called the Battle of Puebla. It’s kind of a minor holiday in Mexico, but for some reason, we do it up a lot bigger in the states. I guess we’re always looking for a reason to party.

So this year, instead of downing some Mexican beer and calling it a day, you might consider a cocktail made with that Mexican delicacy, tequila.

The agave plant is used to make top-flight tequila.

And what makes a great tequila? We all have probably heard of Jose Cuervo. It’s the largest selling tequila brand in the world. And it produces varying quality/aged levels of tequila. Tequilas are becoming a lot like scotch or bourbon whiskies; aging, fancy packaging, the growth of tequila bars, celebrity tequila brands owned by George Clooney and Sammy Hagar, are addressing a market for premium and super-premium tequilas. A bottle can cost several hundred or several thousand dollars.

But beware; some experts say that tequila can improve with aging up to 4 years. Anything after that does not make it better. A 12-year tequila is not like a 12-year scotch. Or so it goes.

But for our purposes, since I’m not a tequila expert, I’m sticking to the basics. A question I’ve always had: What about silver or clear tequila vs. gold.

Generally, tequila aged in oak barrels, like whiskey, has a gold color to it. Some tequilas use a bit of caramel coloring to deepen that gold color a bit and differentiate it from the competitors on the shelf. Which is perfectly fine. It’s a small amount (not more than 1% of the contents) and should not impact the flavor. They even do that with some expensive scotches (I was told so by a whisky expert when I was in Scotland a while back).

A clear or “silver” tequila is not aged in barrels and generally goes into the bottle right from the still. It can still taste fine and make great margaritas. But by itself, silver tequila is not typically a premium tequila. Some gold tequila brands mix barrel-aged gold tequila with clear tequila to lower the cost a bit.

Tequila has a fun history to read about. 

And if you’re really hardcore into learning more, here’s a site that should work well for you.

For your Cinco De Mayo party, here are some tequila cocktail recipes that go well beyond the legendary margarita. Give some a try.

As with all libations, the smoothest, best tasting one one is the one you like. And, as with all alcohol consumption, know your limit, drink responsibly and don’t drive even if you’re a little buzzed.

About Craig Maltby
Craig Maltby is the Club LT community manager. He lives and works in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. When not writing or editing, Craig goes to movies, plays golf (or at least hits balls at the range), and plays keyboard in a classic rock music duo. 

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