One Tequila! Two Tequila! Three Tequila! Floor!
What beverage immediately comes to mind when you think of Mexico? Tequila of course! Aside from all of the great times you may or may not remember…tequila has a rich history and is a unique product of Mexico.
A fun activity, that I highly recommend making the time to do in Rocky Point, is to go tequila tasting at the Tequila Factory. You are guided through the history and making of tequila by Fernando, who also pours samples of each tequila as he educates. First, Fernando is awesome! It doesn’t matter if there is one person in the Tequila Factory or a tour bus full; Fernando entertains, educates, and pours samples –a smidge, a sample, or a “crawl out” shot depending on your preference. You can come in to sample one, or a few tequilas, or you can sample the entire inventory. I won’t give you his whole presentation, because it’s definitely something to experience live, but I’ll give some highlights so you can appreciate what you are drinking from silver to supremo tequila.
Tequila is made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the state of Jalisco. Mexican laws state tequila can only be produced in five (5!) states: Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit and Tamaulipas. Tequila is recognized as a Mexican designation of origin product in most countries. The process of turning the agave plant into tequila is a centuries old art form that is unchanged and remains largely a manual effort passed down through the generations. Jimadores are the workers who cultivate the blue agave plant and have to know when to harvest the piñas, or hearts (corazónes), of the plant (usually around 8-10 years). The piñas are cooked in ovens for 30-40 hours until the blue agave is caramelized into sugar.
This sugar is fermented and distilled for varying amounts of time to produce different tequilas: silver or blanco tequila is the youngest member of the family. Young being relative, since it took almost 10 years of manual labor for that bottle of blanco to be produced. Next you have Respado, which has been aged in a wood barrel for at least 3 months. Then you have Añejo, which has been aged for a minimum of 16 months. Finally, there is Supremo, which is aged for at least 36 months.
At the Tequila Factory you get to taste the unique differences in these distillery processes. Manny’s Beach Club tequila, their signature brand, comes from Jalisco. In addition, tequila can be mixed with flavored extracts to create liqueurs. Tequila Factory offers flavored tequilas: coffee, caramel, chocolate, mint, piña colada, almond, raspberry, apple, pomegranate, watermelon, and peach. Fernando has created signature shots layering flavors and a dash of “silver” which are crazy delicious! If there is a mixture you love but don’t want to buy multiple bottles, he will mix a custom flavor for you to take home… that’s customer service!
In addition to their signature brand tequila, they sell other local brands including Tequilito, which was a house brand served at Mickey’s restaurant in the Old Port. When Mickey passed away, his customers would come in asking for it, so Tequila Factory was able to track down its origins and sells this piece of Rocky Point history as well. You can also buy agave syrup, souvenirs made from tequila barrels by local artists, and actual small barrels full of tequila.
You can sip it “neat” and chilled. My aunt and uncle mix tequila, lime, ice and Fresca for a low carb margarita. My favorite margarita is the Barefoot Contessa’s “Real Margaritas” which combines fresh lemon, lime, white tequila and triple sec. (I usually substitute Blue Curacao for triple sec because who doesn’t like a blue drink) and it doesn’t have any added sugar, so a splash of agave syrup would be a perfect touch. I also favor a Bloody Maria (tequila instead of vodka) over an everyday Bloody Mary.
And of course…there’s always the tequila shot… Arriba! Abajo! Al Centro! Pa’dentro!