Signature Cocktail

Host an Exotic Tequila Tasting, Featuring Easy Prickly Pear Margaritas

Tequila is what we like to call the cognac of Mexico. You have to appreciate the artisanal quality of the spirit, birthed from the purest of environments. Doing a proper tasting educates your palate to the nuances of each spirit, allowing a proper appreciation for the subtleties and leanings. In this month’s crusade for party fodder we met with Chef Richard Caruso of Javelina (who shared his recipe for Habanero Glazed Chicken Wings) and there we also got to sip and taste a selection of premier tequilas. It certainly was a heady afternoon.

DETAILS ON THE INGREDIENTS:

[1] Signature Cocktail If you are not sipping tequila straight, try the Prickly Pear Margarita enhanced by Bungalow 23’s mixer for Prickly Pear Margarita. (see recipe with this post, and details on Bungalow 23 below)

[2] Dulce Vida Organic Tequila Los Altos, in the Tequila region of Mexico, is known for its abundance of large and fruity agave, which is the sole source for this organic tequila. Powerful at 100 Proof, this spirit definitely provides an extra kick. Our fave, the Añejo, is aged in American bourbon whiskey barrels, where it achieves its rich, amber color and full-bodied flavor. Tasting Notes: intense agave and fruit notes with delicate flashes of vanilla and wood, giving way to a sweet, smooth finish. An excellent sipping tequila, especially delicious with a slice of orange sprinkled with cinnamon. About $53. dulcevidaspirits.com

[3] Selección Suprema de Herradura This was the most popular of the tasting, and adored for an exceptional smooth and mellow experience. Estate bottled at Casa Herradura, this 100% pure agave, extra añejo tequila is allowed to age a whopping 49 months in imported oak barrels. Savor a sip of this one for sure. About $300. brown-forman.com

[4] Milagro Tequila In 1998, college friends Danny Schneeweiss and Moy Guindi loved the creativity happening in Mexico City and wanted to bring this passion to the world of Tequila. They teamed up with Pedro Juarez, a Master Distiller, who created a master plan starting with 100% blue agave from the Jalisco Highlands, then cooked the piñas in traditional, hand-built, brick ovens for 36 hours to pull out the most flavor. The Barrel Reserve Reposado Select, then gets aged in both American and French oak barrels for 3 to 6 months, resulting in a perfect balance of agave and oak. Tasting Notes: Focus on vanilla, white pepper and cinnamon, with a dry finish. About $55. milagrotequila.com

[5] Blue Nectar Tequila A father and son with a shared love for tequila, who made a tradition of gifting each other special bottles, led them to creating a special brand of their own. They took a journey searching the lowlands of Jalisco, and on one horrid day in the pouring rain, and at the end of a muddy road, they came across a pair of wild brothers in cowboy hats whose passion for tequila matched their own. Blue Nectar tequila is the result, and is totally true to the terroir of the region’s volcanic soils. Distinct and well-balanced with a rich, earthy body. Aged in North American white oak whiskey & bourbon barrels. About $45. bluenectartequila.com

[6] 1800 Milenio Extra Añejo Originally released in 2000 to celebrate the millennium, the 1800 Milenio exemplifies the taste of fine Weber Blue Agave and worthy of only those who appreciate the best sipping tequilas. This brand is aged for five years, then finished in French oak ex-cognac barrels for four months before bottling. The dark amber gold color shows off its association with oak and is compared to many major bourbons on the market. Tasting Notes: balanced and soft with unique flavor—notes of vanilla, red fruit and cinnamon. About $125. 1800tequila.com

[7] Bungalow 23 Mixers Premium spirits deserve a mixer of the same caliber. By sourcing optimal ingredients, Bungalow 23 has developed a trio of intricate mixers that elevate and enhance a spirit—with just a pour. Their mixes are complex and dense and can stand up to a glassful of ice. For this month’s cocktail, we chose to accompany our top-notch tequilas with the Prickly Pear Margarita mix, whose star fruit comes from California’s Salinas Valley and mingles with fresh limes and oranges plus a smattering of blue agave and cilantro. (See the recipe with this post for creating a sophisticated, mixologist-worthy margarita) Other flavors include Pear Ginger Martini, which starts with pears grown from the Cascade Mountains in Washington and mixes with ginger, lemon, lemongrass, and a touch of sugar. Light and luscious, it marries beautifully with rich dishes, ripe cheeses, and Asian cuisine. Blueberry Lemon Drop harvests blueberries from Willamette Valley in Oregon, and rounds it out with not only lemons but lemongrass and lavender to complete the experience. Stock this assortment in your bar. $17.50 b23mixers.com

Host this tequila tasting at your next big sports match-up. We guarantee a raucous time will be had by all!

See more tips for hosting a five-star sports viewing in 18 Classy Sports