There are four major categories of tequila you should know about when ordering shots or mixed drinks containing the awesome agave. Why should you care to know them? When you order a Margarita or other Tequila based drink you can up the quality of the drink by pushing the quality of the base ingredient, tequila, up a notch.
White Tequila (“Blanco”)
Also known as a silver tequila, still un-aged and can be 100% agave (the good stuff) or something or what is known as a mixto which means they blend a partial amount of agave with sugars and water. A silver may or may not be aged up to 60-days.
Note: If you mix anything with sugar you’re more likely to receive a nasty hangover. If you plan to drink a lot of tequila or margaritas order 100% agave tequila (just ask the waiter or waitress)
Gold Tequila (“Oro”)
Cuervo Gold got it’s name by the type of tequila it possesses. This is the cheapest type of tequila, an un-aged silver mixed with a caramel to give it the gold coloring. Some artificial aging can take place by using wood flavoring, fructose and glycerin. If you order up a Margarita and it seems to be cheaper than all the others on the menu… you’re probably getting a gold tequila. Remember, an un-aged silver tequila that’s bottom of the line probably isn’t 100% agave plant. Translation: hangovers from hell.
A well rested tequila is a happy tequila! These tequilas are stored in wooden tanks for a minimum of 2 months. A higher end Reposado is aged three to nine months – yum! Although the quality can differ from brand to brand the chances are good you’ll be drinking a 100% agave and not a mixto – but ask anyway.
Older means wiser, right? Exactly! This is an old tequila aged in a white French oak barrel (sometimes Bourbon barrels which you’ll taste slightly in its flavor) for a minimum of one year. You can still get a mixto añejo but you’ll probably end up with a true 100% agave aged for four years or so. Some say more than four years will ruin the tequila, but who can pass up an aged tequila…really.
You may also see a category called Extra Añejo, a new category established in March of 2006. This has a minimum of three years aging… but really, who needs extra when you have añejo?
With that, you can now order a great mixed drink. Remember, mixto doesn’t really mean “mixed drink” – you should always strike for 100% agave if you want to keep your body happy the next day. Two weeks ago I managed to put down six añejo margarita’s in a two hour period and woke up refreshed, albeit a bit foggy in the brain.
You’ll find even Cuervo has 100% agave in their higher end tequila so we don’t have to black list Cuervo. You’ll find Cabo Wabo to have 100% agave which should be obvious by the price tag.