Raise your hands, all of you who think (thought) Cinco de Mayo was Mexico’s Independence Day.
Okay, put your hands back down.
For the record, Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) celebrates the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Fifty-two years earlier, however, Mexico began it’s fight for independence from Spain with the “Cry of Dolores” (Dolores being a city, not a person–the actual “cry” came from a Roman Catholic Priest by the name of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla) on September 16, 1810. Even though they would not be completely free of Spanish rule until 1821, September 16th is recognized as the National Day of Independence in Mexico.
Now that we’ve had our history lesson for the week, let’s raise our glass, once again, to independence.
Tequila Partida contacted me about the upcoming holiday and sent me some samples of their lovely, lovely tequilas. They also wondered (and I have to join them in their puzzlement) why Americans celebrate Mexican holidays (or, you know, Tuesday) with blanco tequila, when the aged reposado and anejo tequilas are the grades of choice for celebrations in Mexico.
I’ve never been a huge fan of blanco tequila (aka unaged tequila)–it’s often too harsh and lacks that wonderful warmth that I associate with a good margarita (and that would be a margarita on the rocks, none of this slushy nonsense thank you very much). True, the aging process (while adding quality) does add to the price, but for superior flavor I think it’s worth it..
I had the opportunity to sample the Partida’s blanco, reposado, and anejo tequilas and I have to say, I was surprised that I liked the blanco better than the reposado, but not at all surprised that I enjoyed the anejo even more. What’s the difference?
- Blanco is not aged at all, but Partida’s blanco is relatively smooth, light and crisp without the hard edges the other blanco’s I’ve tasted have had.
- Reposado, by Mexican law, must be aged a minimum of 2 months. Partida ages their for 6 months, which gives it a nice, light amber color. While I enjoyed the depth of flavor, it hadn’t smoothed out as much as I would have expected.
- Anejo, by Mexican law, must be aged a minimum of 1 year. Again, Partida goes beyond the minimum and ages their anejo for 18 months, the outcome of which is a smooth, complex flavor and a nice, golden color. Tasting them side-by-side, even a tequila novice would be able to tell the difference in how smooth and mellow the anejo is compared to the reposado. This is what I want in my margaritas from now on.
Of course, you know me, I like my spirits best in a well-balanced cocktail, and this recipe (courtesy of Jacques Bezuidenhout and Tequila Partida) might be just the thing to add to your tequila cocktail repetoire.
3 chunks of fresh Pineapple
2 coins of fresh Ginger
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Agave Nectar*
1 1/2 oz aged Tequila (like Partida Reposado or Anejo)
1 oz Ginger Ale
In a mixing glass combine the pineapple, ginger, lime juice, and agave nectar and muddle until the ginger is broken up a bit. Fill the glass 3/4-full with ice and add the tequila. Shake like you’re keeping time with a lively mariachi band. Pour in ginger ale and swish it around to chill everything together before straining into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a piece of crystallized ginger.
Jacques will have to forgive me as I made some tweaks to the recipe–he recommends Partida Reposado, I would go with Anejo, and he used a scant 1/4 oz of ginger ale and I thought why bother if that’s all your adding? I also have you serve it in a cocktail glass where he suggests over ice in a highball. Do what you like. I liked the ginger in this cocktail, the tequila gives it a very nice flavor, but I do wish the pineapple were more foreward–it gets a bit buried under the oompf of the other flavors, so you might want to try pineapple juice instead of the ginger ale or maybe even pineapple soda!
*Agave Nectar is making quite a buzz in culinary circles, and therefore with the home gastronome as well. Most folks say it’s lower calorie but that’s not really true. What is true is that, ounce for ounce, agave nectar is sweeter than table sugar, so you can use less–IF you use less, volumetrically-speaking, then yes, it’s reducing your calories, but a gram of sugar and a gram of agave nectar both add the same amount of calories. Read those labels, though! Manufacturers have been known to stretch their agave nectar in the name of profit with high fructose corn syrup, so check that the ingredient list includes only 100% agave nectar before bringing it home.
Okay, folks, remember to go for the gold? Age before beauty? Something like that! But if you were looking for a reason to try some really good tequila this weekend, now you’ve got it!
And come back next week to find out what we’re celebrating next!
“¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva la independencia!”
FTC Disclaimer: I was provided samples of Partida Tequilas for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.