Tuesday, July 24, 2012

There seems to be day dedicated to nearly every food possible, but today we celebrate the one and only tequila. That dynamic little drink that you either love or hate depending on how it treats you the next morning.

Tequila is made from the Blue Agave plant and originated in the town of Tequila just outside the Guadalajara highlands. More than 300 million of these blue agave plants are harvested for tequila production every year. Mexican law stipulates that the Jalisco region is the only area that is allowed to grow agave plants for tequila production. While the highlands of Jalisco are known for their blue agave sweetness, the lowlands produce agave with a more herbaceous flavor.

Tequila was first produced as distilled agave in the 16th century by the Aztec tribes in the area. When the Spanish Conquistadors arrived and ran out of brandy they began to produce their own version of a fermeted agave drink and created North America's first distilled beverage.

Around 80 years later the Spanish government granted the Cuervo family the first rights to mass produce tequila in Mexico. That same tequila is still in production today under the founder's name, Jose Cuervo. The Sauza family later exported their brand of tequila to the United States, making Sauza the first tequila to cross the international border.

Many of the original family tequillerias have been purchased by large, multi-national production companies, and today there are over 100 distilleries making over 900 brands of tequila in Mexico, and over 2,000 brand names have been registered despite many of them coming from the same location.

While many locations serve their tequila with salt and a lime wedge, the traditional way is striaght with no licking or sucking involved. Other misconceptions about tequila involve the ever-popular worm myth. Tequila has never nor will it ever be traditionally packaged and served with a worm inside of it. Mezcal, another popular Mexican drink is served with a worm option, not tequila.

We ask our fellow Yumologists to take time out of their busy Tuesday, hit up their local happy hour and raise a glass to this potent patriot of Mexican history and ingenuity. Cheers!

Blue Agave being harvested

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