Saturday, March 20, 2010


Upon finding out that I am Mexican, most people ask me what my favorite Mexican restaurant is in DC. I always start with the disclaimer that there isn't a huge Mexican community in DC like there is in New York, Chicago or LA, and that some of the better places are outside of DC-proper. Truth is, I am lucky to go back home often enough, there are a lot of things (such as chilorio and cuitlacoche) you can bring in as cans, and the certain Safeway, H-Mart and Shoppers locations are well stocked enough for me to get my fix.

I made a list a few years ago that needs updating. I have heard very good things about the Taco cart out in Rosslyn. While we work on that, I would like to tackle the second most frequent question, what's my favorite tequila. Like all strong spirits, that's a question of personal preference. I enjoy my tequila straight, but will not do shots. You don't want to do that to good tequila, as it will negate any pleasure you may derive from its texture, body, and bouquet. You will not see Don Julio sponsoring body shot contests any time soon. Shooting tequila is something you do when you don't know better, or because you wish to forget that you do in order to get very drunk very soon. I sip tequila, and keep it in the freezer at home.

There are three types of tequila, blanco, reposado and añejo. Their colors, white, gold and slightly brown, make them very easy to distinquished. Añejo is aged in barrels, which gives it is distinct color. There are a lot of tequila primers out there.

My two favorite tequilas are Herradura Silver, a white tequila, and Don Julio Reposado. Don Julio is easier to get in the US. For margaritas, I will normally use Cazadores or Centenario. There are a lot of brands out there, and some, like Patron and Jose Cuervo, have huge marketing campaigns behind them. I like Patron, and the H Street Country Club does some interesting cocktails with it. For the price point, I prefer Don Julio. I do not care for Jose Cuervo, and seeing places that sell Margaritas labeled as "top shelf" that use it as their main tequila puts me in a bad mood. Tequila has become so popular that agave, the plant that it is made from, is becoming very expensive. Whatever tequila you buy, make sure that the label says 100% Agave. Anything else will have additives. If you go to places that have a good tequila selection, such as Oyamel, try brands that don't advertise as much. Put tequila in proper glassware (known as caballitos in Mexico or cordial glasses here) so you can smell it while you sip it. Riedel makes beautiful tequila stemware.

As for salt, I prefer sea salt because it has larger crystals and fresh limes if they are available. The lime is a good way of cleansing your tongue before having tequila (you can also have it after). In Berlin a few years ago I saw people drinking tequila with cinnamon and orange instead. It's not for me, but it says a lot about the flexibility of the drink.


1 comment:

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