Tequila

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All About Tequila

Tequila. Talk about a polarizing word. Some people feel a residual hangover just at the mention of it, and while you can find plenty of budget tequilas, you get what you pay for.

You can't get through college without trying tequila in some form, whether it's from a line of shot glasses on a smooth bar or in a delicious cocktail. The blue agave plant is key to tequila's unique flavor. The plant takes around 10 years to fully mature and be ready for harvest. Only the heart of the plant, which can weigh over 100 pounds, is used in production.

By law, tequila must be at least 51 percent agave, but premium varieties contain 100 percent. As you can imagine, the more agave there is, the high quality and better tasting the tequila is. And less likely to give you a hangover. Maybe.

To truly be considered tequila, it must be produced in one of five Mexican states. Once finished, it tends not to get too far from home — almost 85 percent of all tequila is consumed in the United States and Mexico, and 75 percent of all exports make their way to the U.S.

Gold Tequila:

Despite its hard-partying reputation, gold tequila is very refined. Premium tequila brands are just as nuanced and sophisticated in flavor as any scotch. And it has an incredible ability to reflect the fruit, pepper and spice flavor combination of the agave plant. The term "gold" comes from the golden color that the tequila adopts as it ages. Some distilleries also add caramel coloring to increase its hue.

Flavored Tequila:

While we don't always advocate messing with a good thing, flavored tequila can add a dose of fun to any event. Common flavors include coconut, lime, strawberry and jalapeño — basically, anything you might associate with a day at the beach.

Anejo Tequila:

Anejo must be aged for at least three years to bear the name. When you want to impress your guests with your knowledge of tequila — and the depth of your wallet — Anejo makes a perfect choice.

Silver Tequila:

Think of silver tequila as the liquor's purest form. It's only aged for a few months, so it doesn't have time to develop the golden color that comes from longer aging. Instead, it typically appears perfectly clear.

Reposado Tequila:

If you're looking for a smooth-sailing experience that won't leave you with a killer hangover, try reposado. Like anejo, it's less harsh on the tongue as well as on the nervous system, so you can take more shots without the morning-after consequences.

How to Drink It:

Shots — always shots. Just kidding. Though that might be the most efficient method, it's not always a crowd pleaser. Aside from margaritas, you can try plenty of classic cocktails; Palomas, Micheladas and even an Old Fashioned. And, yes, aside from shots, high-quality tequila is delicious all on its own.

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