Tequila History: Part Two

Blue Weber Agave before being harvested and turned into 100% de Agave Tequila

And here continues the history of Tequila. In June, we explained the roots of Tequila in the Aztec civilization and how the Spaniards distilled agave spirits to create a brandy-substitute. Now let’s see how Tequila came to be known as ‘Tequila” and the Mexican government’s promotion of the spirit.

The 1700s to 1800s AD: 
In 1758, the King of Spain granted Senior José Antonio Cuervo the rights to cultivate land in Mexico, laying the foundation of the Jose Cuervo brand, the largest producer and exporter of Tequila today.  In 1858, Don Cenobio Sauza fell in love with agave farming, founding Sauza Tequila and beginning the great rivalry between Sauza and Cuervo. During the mid-1800s, the Blue Weber agave was identified as the ideal plant for Tequila and insisting the spirit can only be made from this strain of agave.  Previously, various types of agave species were used; today, many of those agave species are distilled into mezcal. In 1873, Tequila was first exported to and made its debut in the United States, thanks to the work of the original Tequila families.  After Mexico gained independence in 1823, Tequila became a symbol of national pride, as European spirits were cast aside. The popularity of the spirit grew outside of Mexico as Prohibition in the US pushed American imbibers to smuggle the agave spirit into the US, and again during World War II when the decreased supply of European spirits.  As a result of this growing demand, the Mexican government created new regulations and two government bodies to oversee production and exportation.

The 1900s AD:
Mexico, aware of Tequila’s international renown, declared the term “Tequila” as its intellectual property through various treaties and international agreements, giving the country the unique right as the only country with legal rights to produce “Tequila”.  With Mexico now the sole exporter of Tequila, the industry boomed. To protect the fast-growing industry becoming symbolic of the country, the Mexican government instituted regulations ensuring a high level of quality in Tequila production. One of the most important rules is the guidance that, to be called Tequila, the spirit must contain at least 51% Blue Weber Agave. Agave-distilled spirits with only 51% Blue Weber Agave are called mixto – the remaining 49% of the spirit is made from low-quality sugars.

A true, high-quality Tequila should be made with 100% Blue Weber Agave. Tres Agaves is proud to use single-source, 100% de Agave Tequila. Now you’ve read the history of Tequila, how it grew from its prehispanic, ritualistic roots, to become the symbol of Mexican national pride it is today. It’s time to sip some yourself! Find our 100% de Agave Tequila near you.

History of the Sangrita


While one typically thinks of salt and lime when imagining what should accompany Tequila, there is another authentic Mexican companion to the 100% de agave spirit.  Sangrita (“little blood” in Spanish) is a citrus-heavy mixture of orange, lime, and pomegranate juice, powdered chiles, and other spices, and was born in Jalisco, Mexico, the same state Tequila calls home. 

Sangrita is believed to the result of a mixture of leftover juices from pico de gallo, a fruit salad popular in Guadalajara.  When the salad was consumed, the leftover juices were poured into small clay cups and imbibed alongside the post-meal Tequila, a well-noted digestif. As Sangrita has made its way north in the United States, the recipe has adopted a more savory flavor profile. Americans have added tomato juice to meet the level of citrus juices. 

Sangrita isn’t meant to muffle the strong citrus and herby flavors of Tequila. It is meant to sip alongside the spirit, so its savory and citrusy flavors can amplify Tequila’s terroir.  When drinking our award-winning, organic 100% de agave Tequila, we can’t recommend Sangrita enough.  If you’re looking to cover up sting of low-quality Tequila, stick to salt and lime. 

Mexican recipe:
Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 4 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 5–10 dashes hot sauce (more or less to taste)
  • Ground black pepper
  • Salt

Directions
Combine all ingredients and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

American recipe:
Ingredients

  • ¼ medium white onion
  • ½ dried ancho chili
  • 1 jalapeño, halved
  • 4 ounces tomato juice (Sacramento)
  • 4 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 3 ounces fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon Maggi seasoning
  • ½ stalk of celery
  • ¼ medium cucumber
  • Salt

Directions
On a grill or in a cast iron pan, roast onion, ancho chili and half the jalapeño for 4–5 minutes, until onions begin to char. Remove from heat and place in a blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth, and salt to taste. Let sit for 10 minutes. Strain finely before serving.

Recipes from: Dylan Garret, Senior Digital Editor of WineEnthusiast (https://www.winemag.com/gallery/a-tale-of-two-sangritas/#gallery-carousel-1)

Regional Cuisine of Mexico… and not a burrito in sight!

mexi on plate
The many ingredients in Mexican ‘Mole’ sauce.

By Eric Rubin, Brand Director of Tres Agaves

I’m asked pretty regularly if I can give people a quick overview on the primary regional cuisines from Mexico, that is, the ones you see most often represented (correctly or not!) in Mexican restaurants in the U.S. Keep in mind, this is just a short blog entry, and Mexico is behind only France and China for the number of documented recipes for its native dishes.

To me you have three primary regional cuisines: Yucatecan and Oaxacan in the South, and Jaliscan/Michoacan in central Mexico. Yes, I know I’m leaving out Mexico City! I put northern/border cuisine as closest to Tex-Mex, which I’ll focus on in another entry. For now, I’ll give you my abridged summary on the differences between the regions just mentioned.

Yucatecan – Yucatecan dishes tend to be very colorful and lean towards a fusion of Spanish, Caribbean and native Mexican cuisine. Typical ingredients include: black beans, corn tortillas, pickled red onions, habañero peppers, salsas with fruit. Signature dishes are Cochinita Pibil, Panuchos, Poc Chuc, and Sopa de Lima. There is no distilled spirit native to the Yucatan.

Oaxacan – I’d say Oaxacan is the most complex of all Mexican regional cuisines. Signature dishes include Tlayudas, moles of all types, and molletes. Mezcal is native to Oaxaca.

Jaliscan/Michoacan – Jaliscan cuisine to me is the most rustic of the regions, rooted in a beautiful simplicity. Ingredients include: pinto beans, flor de mayo beans, corn tortillas, chile de arbol, Serrano chile. Signature dishes are Carnitas, Carne en su Jugo, Tortas Ahogadas, Birria, Pozole. And of course, Tequila is the spirit native to Jalisco!

Eric Rubin’s Journal: Tequila.net

Tequila.net Homepage

To all of you trying to figure out which Tequila-related website is best, let me put in my vote for Tequila.net.  Although many sites have great content, reviews, photos, and running dialog, Tequila.net upped the ante when they added a searchable database.  You can search by distillery name, product name, or even NOM number, definitely my favorite feature.  Their site also features a very user-friendly interface and is kept very current.   Congratulations to Darin and the Tequila.net crew for passing the one million visitor mark in 2010!