How to Drink Your Tequila According To Brady Bunte
Tequila is named for the region from which it originates. On the outskirts of the city of Tequila, you will find acres of the blue agave plant that is the primary ingredient to this famed Mexican drink. Packing a powerful 31-55% alcoholic content according to Brady Bunte, tequila flavor and aroma is heavily influenced by the altitude at which it is grown. Highland grown agave is said to produce sweeter tequila, while the lowland grown plants offer a more spicy taste.
Brady Bunte is a tequila connoisseur and CEO of Tres Sietes Tequila and has done much to promote the drink abroad. While acknowledging that there are many types of tequila in the market that offer varying flavors and depth, Brady Bunte points to the initial peppery taste that hits the palate as one of the most easily identifiable traits of the beverage.
According to Brady Bunte, the growing popularity of the drink, especially beyond the borders of Mexico, has meant that people have adopted different styles of drinking the beverage. For novices, or people looking to try something different, here are a few popular options to try out.
1. Traditional – tequila has been around for hundreds of years and during this time, Mexicans have predominantly drunk it neat, with no additions of lime or salt. The addition of lime and salt is a popular foreign adaptation that we will discuss later.
2. Sangrita - in some parts of Mexico, Tequila is best drunk alongside a sangrita. Brady Bunte describes sangrita as a non alcoholic drink with spicy flavors that is mostly used to complement tequila blanco and tequila reposado. Often made with ingredients such as oranges, limes, pomegranates and chili powder, sangrita is drank in alternating shots of equal amount with the tequila.
3. Bandera – this is a later adaptation of the sangrita with three drinks being alternated. They include lime juice, the tequila and a sangrita. The three drinks are said to be a representation of the three main colors in the Mexican flag.
4. Tequila cruda – this is the highly popular style of drinking that has been perpetuated by television and movies by offering the lick-sip-suck formula. It basically involves the drinker licking salt off the back of the hand, downing a shot of tequila, and biting and sucking a wedge of lime. Brady Bunte says the salt and lime additions are meant to help in soothing the burn of the tequila while enhancing its flavors.
Sometimes the style of drinking will vary depending on which type of tequila is being drunk. For instance in parts of Europe, tequila joven that is flavored with caramel, will often be enjoyed with a slice of orange dusted with cinnamon.
Tequilas are generally separated into two categories. There are the 100% agave tequilas, made exclusively with the plant. All others are referred to as mixtos that are made up of a minimum of 51% agave and sugar additives. According to Brady Bunte, when bottled, if the tequila is not labeled 100% agave, it is a mixto.
Brady Bunte recommends that with 100% agave tequilas, it is best to enjoy them the traditional way. At its purest form, agave tequilas tend to lose flavor when acids are added. The alcohol burn is also moderate and the drink should be enjoyed slowly in sips, similar to how people drink brandy. In this way, one does not lose out on the delicate flavors and aromas that are weakened by salt and lime.
If you are looking for more excitement however, then Brady Bunte recommends the tequila cruda way that is highly popular as a drinking game. Another way to enjoy tequila is by using it in cocktails. Margaritas are the most popular of the tequila mixed drinks and come in a number of flavorful variations, served in the distinct margarita glass rimmed with salt or sugar.