Eric Rubin’s Journal: East vs West

Jan. 26th – East vs West

Today I’m traveling to the East Coast, specifically Virginia Beach. I look forward to posting some of the differences we see in Tequila knowledge here vs the West Coast. The numbers do show that considerably more 100% agave Tequila is consumed west of the Mississippi, so from that might assume that the knowledge level is higher out west. But is it true?

January 27th – East vs West

After one day I can say that the selections of 100% agave brands out west is way, way more impressive than what I saw today, and I do think more Tequila aficionados reside out west. But, to be fair to people here, a lot of what is sold to people in bars and restaurants out west is not dictated by the consumer. Their choices (i.e. back bars and cocktail lists) are put together by bartenders and beverage managers that are more knowledgeable due to their proximity to Mexico and long history of Anglo-Latino cultural exchange in their communities.

Friday Fact: The Enormous Agave Flower

There’s nowhere better to learn about the miraculous spiky plant that give us Tequila than the agave growing estates of Jalisco, Mexico. There is one thing, however, you wont see anywhere agave is cultivated–the flower that is produced when the plant reaches sexual maturity.

Depending on the the climate, soil, and other factors, Blue Weber agaves can take anywhere from 5 to 50 years (usually 8-12) to mature. In the wild the stalk shoots up, the plant flowers, and bats come in to pollenate. On estates, however, It is precisely at this point, before the flowering occurs, that Jimadors come in to harvest the agave. While it might seem strange to prevent your crop from naturally propagating itself, timing the harvest this way is absolutely essential.

The stalk that is produced when an agave flowers is so large (commonly over 10 ft), and grows so fast (as little as 3 or 4 days) that the effort of flowering actually kills the rest of the plant by siphoning away essential nutrients. Moreover, these nutrients (mostly sugars) are essential to Tequila production. Without them, there is nothing to ferment, distill, bottle and enjoy. Watch this video of a 30ft agave stalk that sprouted in Boston greenhouse and you’ll understand how the process can be so draining on the plant.

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To learn more about how agaves do reproduce when they are being grown on estates, check out this old blog post.

Friday Fact: Etymology of Tequila

Everybody knows Tequila is a (tasty) spirit. Surprisingly few know that it’s also a place.

The town of Tequila (site of Tres Agaves Tequila’s distillery) is nestled comfortably in the valley of Tequila, below the Tequila Volcano.

By my count, that’s four different things, all going by the same name.  Why is everything in sight down there called ‘Tequila’, and what does it mean? The authorities differ on this point.

Most agree that the term comes from an ancient Nahuatl word. It has been variously taken to mean ‘place of tribute’, and ‘place of work’ on one end of the spectrum, and ‘place of taxes’, ‘place of tricks’ on the other.

Other theories of the word’s original meaning center around the Tequila Volcano that looms over over the town. For instance, some believe that Tequila should be translated as ‘the rock that cuts’, a reference to the obsidian that is abundant in the area. At least a few others think Tequila is a corruption of ‘tetilla’, implying that the locals thought the mountain looked like a small breast.

Tequila isn’t Nahuatl’s only contribution to modern parlance. According to Wikipedia all of the following words and more can be traced back to this indigenous Mexican group of languages:

achiote, aguacate, cacahuate, chile, chipotle, chocolate, coyote, guacamole, jícara, jitomate, mezcal, mezquite, mole, nopal, popote, pozole, quetzal, tamal, tomate.

“Frieday” Fact: La Paloma

In the US, margaritas drive us wild, and for good reason–agave and lime go together like peanut butter and jelly.

But what is the most popular cocktail in Mexico? Chances are you may not have run across the refreshing combination of grapefruit soda, Tequila and lime that our southern neighbors call ‘La Paloma’, or ‘The Dove’. Usually made using Squirt, La Paloma is said to have been invented at ‘La Capilla’ (The Chapel), an awesome little bar just down the street from Tres Agaves’ own distillery in the town of Tequila.

It may be small, but La Capilla and its nearly 90 year old proprietor Don Javier Delgado Corona are a prolific bunch–check out the previous Tres Agaves Life post on ‘La Batanga’, another of Don Javier’s creations.

Here’s the Ultimate Cocktail Challenge’s recipe for La Paloma

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • ½ ounce limejuice
  • 2 ounces grapefruit soda
  • lime wedge garnish
  • Preparation: Build in Collins glass with ice and add tequila and lime juice. Top with grapefruit soda. Garnish with half grapefruit wheel.

The Inspiration Behind Tres Agaves

What do you need to come up with a simply great name like Tres Agaves? A trip to the Los Altos region in Jalisco for an amazing outdoor fiesta certainly helps. And if you’re lucky you’ll get some inspiration from the view. Tres Agaves Founder Eric Rubin explains…