How to enjoy tequila without shotting it

Sip it neat on its own or with a side of sangrita

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Indy Lifestyle Online

For too long tequila has been exiled to the small hours in the UK; drunk juice to be knocked back with lime and salt at 2am usually as a David Guetta song thumps inexorably in the background.

But the agave-based spirit, along with its dusty first cousin mezcal, can have all the subtlety of a fine bourbon and deserves to be treated with a similar reverence.

It is best served straight and at room temperature (18-22°C), so forget the ice cubes and pour a good measure directly into a sherry style glass, classic Reidel glass or just any little tumblers you might have lying around.

Tequila comes in five types - blanco (white), joven (young), reposado (rested), añejo (aged) and extra añejo (extra aged) - which refer to the blending and length it has been aged.

In Mexico they drink it neat, sipping it slowly, or accompany it with a side of sangrita, a sweet, spicy drink traditionally made from tomato juice, orange juice and chillies.

The liquor also goes well with beer, and alongside Mexican cuisine pairs nicely with some sweet foods like chocolate.

You’re probably familiar with the brands ubiquitous in bars, but here's some fine tequilas and mezcals to get you started:

ILEGAL - Joven mezcal

So named because distiller John Rexer used to smuggle it ifrom Oaxaca to Guatemala to stock his bar, Cafe No Se. A subtle mezcal with notes of green pepper and apple.


PAPADIABLO - Especial mezcal

If you're one for superstition, this tequila (made from four different species of Agave) is "blessed" by a Shaman before bottling.


MILAGRITO - Ven a mi joven mezcal

A reposado aged in oak. A round and creamy palate with smoky tones of charred oak.


DON JULIO - Tequila añejo 1942

Two and a half years of aging gives this tequila great depth. Smooth on the tongue with oak and cinnamon flavours.


JOSE CUERVO - Tradicional Reposado

The best-selling premium tequila in Mexico. And those Mexicans know their tequila.


LOS SIETE MISTERIOS - Espadin mezcal

Distilled by two brothers new to the mezcal game. Smoky olive on the nose with a sweet tabacco flavour.


CORRELAJO - Reposado tequila

Named after the site of the original hacienda of Miguel Hidalgo, the father of Mexican independence.



A rich and intense extra añejo and a connoisseur's choice.