National Tequila Day July 24, 2011Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
Tags: Jimmy Buffett, margaritas, Margaritaville, National Tequila Day, Pink Paloma, tequila cocktails, tequila history, Tequila Sunrise
Yes, folks, today, July 24, is National Tequila Day. We hope you realize that margaritas are the original Gatorade, containing copious amounts of both salt and sugar, just the thing for combating a heatwave like the one we’re all going through now.* And did we mention, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere?
Here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, we wanted to look into the history of the margarita and see when it first arrived North of the Border. So we turned to our venerable copy of Gordon’s Cocktail & Food Recipes, ca. 1934. There were no margarita recipes in the index, but there were three variations on a “marguerite cocktail,” so we quickly turned to page 91 in the hope that this was a Frenchified name for the venerable beverage. Alas, all three versions turned out to be gin-based, and one contained absinthe, which at the time was considered addictive and hallucinogenic and was, despite the popularity of absinthe cocktails in the book, illegal in the U.S. at the time (though legal in Britain). There wasn’t a mention of tequila in any form in the entire volume.
Based on these clues and the fact that Gordon’s Gin is produced in London, we concluded that, despite the fact that the book claimed to have been published in Boston and didn’t list any other places of publication (such as, say, London), it must have been British, and thus the absence of tequila in the book didn’t necessarily mean a corresponding absence of tequila at the time in the U.S. More research was clearly called for.
Turns out, tequila wasn’t introduced into the U.S. until the late 1800s, by Don Cenobio Sauza, founder of Sauza Tequila and Municipal President of the Village of Tequila from 1884-1885, according to Wikipedia. Since tequila had been made there since the 16th century, it surprised us that it took so long to get here; we’d have thought it would have arrived in the Southwest with the Spanish.
Here are five fun facts about tequila that we also learned from Wikipedia. Use them to astound your friends over margaritas tonight!
* The most expensive bottle of alcohol ever sold was not a vintage champagne, as we’d have assumed, but a bottle of tequila, which sold for $225,000 in 2006.
* In 2009, Mexican scientists discovered how to make tiny synthetic diamonds from tequila.
* Used Jack Daniels barrels are especially popular for making aged, or anejo, tequila.
* Despite the mythology, tequilas do not contain worms (actually caterpillars, moth larvae that feed on agave) in the bottle to prove that they were really made from agave. Apparently some mezcals from Oaxaca began including these worms in bottles as a marketing gimmick in the 1940s, and that’s how the legend started.
* In Germany, gold tequila is drunk with a dash of cinnamon taken before the shot and orange slices afterwards. White or silver tequila is taken with salt and lime as it is here.
And by the way, all tequila is made from the blue agave plant, Agave tequilana Weber Blue variety, and exclusively produced in the State of Jalisco, where the village of Tequila is located. The best tequilas are 100% agave, while even the cheapest brands must contain 51% agave.
Yikes, the sun is over the islands (to quote Jimmy Buffett, whose song “Margaritaville” did more to popularize tequila in the U.S. than anything before or since), so it’s time to share a couple of tequila cocktails.
First is the Tequila Sunrise, an International Bartender Association Official Cocktail (please don’t ask us the significance of that designation, we don’t know either). The version we all know and love originated in the early 1970s, and because the red, orange and gold layers settle out, it apparently reminded its creators of a sunrise. It’s made with tequila, orange juice, and grenadine, and served in a highball glass over ice with an orange slice and maraschino cherry. Bring ‘em on!!!
Next, of course, is the margarita. We make the Hawk’s Haven version with gold tequila, Triple Sec, splashes of Key lime and Key lemon juice, and Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix, served over ice with margarita salt. We like to serve them in huge goblets hand-painted with festive chile peppers that we found at Goodwill, preferably accompanied by white tortilla chips, homemade salsa and pepper Jack cheese. Lime wedges optional but always appreciated.
Silence Dogood is as fond of a good margarita or Tequila Sunrise as anybody, but her favorite tequila drink is the Pink Paloma, made with gold tequila, pink (“ruby red”) grapefruit juice, and Mandarin orange sparkling water. She says it’s not too sweet, not too thick, and perfectly refreshing on a hot, humid day.
What’s your favorite tequila drink?
* Disclaimer: While the salt, sugar, citrus, and water (ice cube or crushed ice) content of a margarita may help protect you from the effects of extremely hot weather, it’s well known that alcohol contributes to heat exhaustion. You’d be better off drinking iced tea.