Over half a century ago on Mexican Independence Day (September 16), Don Francisco Javier Sauza (yeah that same Sauza), created Hornitos tequila, an aromatic 100% blue agave experience that’s sweet and calming with a little bit of bite.
Hornitos Plata. This is Hornitos’ unaged tequila (“plata” is Spanish for silver). Plata has never made contact with wood barrels, so it’s a clear tequila. Because of its young age, Plata is more of an herbal and floral experience in the smell and taste. This is agave at its purest: very sweet, crisp and clean.
Hornitos Reposado. This “rested” tequila has an aromatic rush of blue agave, unexpected and exciting. The sting in the air that is immediately present in the nose of other tequilas is non-existent here. Instead, a sweet, calming waft of blue agave gets your attention. The flavor is mellow and very smooth, with a bit of welcome spice. Not a tequila I would associate with taking shots, Hornitos Reposado is smooth enough to sip, and enjoy the warmth in your chest of a nice, aged tequila.
Hornitos Reposado will run you $25 and Hornitos Plata, $20. The flavors of both are subtle, and though they’d be fine cocktail tequilas, I will likely enjoy Hornitos Reposado more often as a sipping tequila. The Plata is a little more floral and herbal than I’d prefer.
Tequila Avión gets much of its reputation as the “tequila from Entourage,” which was apparently a sweet unpaid buddy deal. As I’ve yet to see Entourage, I just know Avión based on this tasting. Avión is available in Silver, Reposado, and Añejo varieties, with this Añejo clocking in at 2 years old.
Tasted alone, all three of these tequilas are world-class. There is a soapy note particularly in the Silver and Añejo varieties, as well as a bit of fruitiness in the Silver as well, and I’m sure it’s an outstanding mixer as a result. For a sipping tequila, the Reposado and Añejo are both great, but are significantly different from each other. The Reposado has a spicy woodyness that puts it more in line with whiskeys, and the Añejo is a smooth, mellow, subtler version of the the Silver.
Avión has a really good collection of recipes on their site, and I found one that looked the best for a Fall drink: The Avión Autumn Apple. I modified it just a bit for my own palate, so here’s my take on their recipe, which is high on the juice and pretty low on alcohol, so this would be a great party punch too:
- 1 oz Avión Reposado
- 2 oz apple juice or cider
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
- serve over ice in a collins glass
- garnish with an apple slice
A new brand of tequila has made an appearance in Albuquerque liquor stores: JLP Tequila. Named for the former governor of the Villa of Tequila, Jesus Lopez Portillo Y Galindo, JLP is a mid-range tequila will run you about $20-30, and it’s made from 100% agave. I tried all 3 of the varieties: Blanco (unaged), Reposado (aged 6 months), and Añejo (aged 12 months), and I’m pretty impressed. While it has been widely available in California, JLP is new to New Mexico.
First, an explanation about the two types of tequila manufacture. Tequila is distilled from agave, just like some whiskey is distilled from corn, but there are 2 different ways of processing it from there: 100% agave or mixto. 100% agave is the most pure type, with no added ingredients. A mixto uses at least 51% agave, then sugars are used to make up the remainder of the mixture. This would expain why 100% agave tequilas start at $20, but a bottle of Jose Cuervo is $13. It’s a mixto.
The older a tequila is, the less appropriate it is for cocktails, so I made a margarita with the JLP Blanco and found that it made an outstanding margarita, one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s a very smooth tequila and the muggyness that tequila is famous for is a bit more subtle.
Tasting it in a glass by itself, the JLP Añejo is very smooth, highlighted by an outstanding peppery/chili finish. The middle child, JLP Reposado, is a fine tequila for a Tequila Old Fashioned:
Tequila Old Fashioned
- in an old fashioned glass, add:
- 1 tsp of raw sugar
- 3 dashes of orange bitters
- 2 oz of JLP Reposado Tequila
- fill with ice and stir well
- garnish with a lime wedge
This recipe is a minor variation on the margarita for the summertime. First, puree mangoes with a bit of water and freeze the results in ice trays overnight. Using the “mango ice” instead of regular ice, build your margarita.
Mango Ice Margarita
- 1 1/2 oz of tequila
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1 oz triple sec
- on the mango rocks in a salt-rimmed glass
- no garnish (it distracts from the cool yellow cubes)
Now, recently, I’ve begun doing something to my margaritas that people say has made them even better. I add 1-2 ox of club soda/seltzer water on top and give it a stir. It mellows out the pungent nature of tequila and makes a more refreshing drink anyway, and in this one, it helps break down the mango cubes. You’ll want to let this one sit at the table before your guests start sipping so that the mango can get all sloshy in there. The mango flavor will be subtle, and not overpowering.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 1/2 oz of tequila
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1 oz triple sec
- on the rocks in a salt-rimmed glass
- lime wedge garnish
So how’s that “perfect?” The ingredient list is simple, but like I say in the book, quality is the key with all cocktails, so here’s what I used:
Lime juice must be fresh-squeezed. I used course Himalayan Pink salt to rim the glass because it tastes really good and looks unique. (Insert joke about manliness here)
I used Hornitos Reposado Tequila. A simple lesson in tequila types: blanco tequilas are unaged and so they’re the most pungent. Reposado tequilas are aged 2-12 months to they are smoother, and anejo tequilas are aged from 1 to 3 years, so they’re smooth, the tequila equivalent to scotch. Make sure it’s 100% agave tequila – that’s the only kind to use.
Hornitos Reposado is the best tequila I’ve tried so far, compared to Trader Joe’s brand 100% agave and 1800 Blanco. It’s the smoothest and has the best flavor.
3 ingredients will help you make an absolutely perfect Margarita. Simple!