It was once a ritual usually performed by a man. He would put some salt where the bottom of the thumb met his wrist. After licking the salt, he would take a swig of tequila from a shot glass and then bite into a piece of lime. Ladies were not too fond of this and always drank their tequila mixed into a cocktail. Tequila is listed as a spirit and distilled from the sugar sap of the blue agave plant then fermenting it and producing a liquor with a distinctive taste. Tequila was sold exclusively in Mexico until the nineteen-nineties when sipping it became trendy in the Southwestern region of the United States. The price of tequila varies from the modest to the more expensive depending upon the quality of the producer. Now with the demands of authenticity, the premium brands are truly appreciated world-wide.

Traditionally, tequila has always been served in a two-ounce glass, or caballito at room temperature or enjoyed ice cold with some bottled lime juice added or just a squeeze of the lime itself. A famous glass company in Austria introduced a six and three-fourth ounce glass for sipping tequila that fully allows the taste of it to be fully appreciated by the glass's shape.

The distillers of tequila have to follow strict guidelines set by the Mexican government and be bottled at the distillery in the Tequila region of Mexico. There are two general categories and four types of tequila. Blanco, or silver is clear and transparent and has a stronger flavor. Oro, or Gold has added colorants and flavorings producing a caramel color with a mellow flavor. Reposado, or rested in oak casts from two months up to one year. It has a mellower taste that is gentler to the palate. Afiejo, or aged is a blanco, a clear tequila kept in white oak casts for more than a year. Reserve is a special Afiejo, aged tequila kept in oak casts for up to eight years. It is priced much higher than the premium brands.

The drink recipes below are from www.itequila.org for more of an authentic taste.

A tequila sunrise is a great way to start a weekend morning while eating a breakfast taco and imagining the sun as it rises over Acapulco Bay. Note: For a non-alcoholic version, a favorite brand of sparkling mineral water is substituted.

Tequila Sunrise

2-oz of ice-cold tequila
4-oz orange juice
1-oz grenadine
Pour orange juice into a highball glass and then pour the Ice-cold tequila slowly tilting the glass to get a layered effect.Trickle the grenadine on top to get a perfect sunrise .Garnish a cocktail stirrer with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

A tequila sour mimics a whiskey sour using an Afeijo, or aged tequila for a better taste.

Tequila Sour
1-1/2 oz. tequila
2-oz. lemon juice
1-tsp. sugar

Blend ingredients with crushed ice and strain into a sour glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

After a workday, happy hour is a way of winding down in the larger cities of Texas.Everyone heads to their favorite Mexican restaurant and orders either a blended frozen margarita or one that has been classically prepared in a cocktail shaker.

Classic Margarita
2-oz. Tequila
1-oz Triple Sec
½ oz. Mexican lime juice

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice that might be in cubes, coarsely chopped, or finely crushed. Rim a glass with salt by rubbing the rim of a margarita or a martini glass with a slice of lime and then pressing the glass lightly on a plate filled with a fine salt.

For the home bartender, a frozen margarita is blended and then poured into frosty margarita or martini glasses that have been rinsed out with cold water and put into the freezer.

Frozen Margarita

Into a five cup blender:

4-cups of ice from a bag of commercial ice cubes
2-oz tequila
1-oz. Grand Marnier
1-oz Cointreau

2-oz. bottled lime juice
4-cups of a commercially prepared liquid margarita mix

Directions: Blend all of the ingredients then pour into a frosty margarita or a martini glass and garnish with the lime slice that has been twisted into an S shape.

The author grew up in Texas where drinking tequila or mixing it into cocktails is a very common practice.

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