5 Mexican tequilas to support instead of famous brands
Today, July 24, is National Tequila Day, and bars, restaurants, and tequila lovers across the United States are gearing up to celebrate. Whether you’re snapping a shot, sipping a margarita, or sipping the increasingly popular Ranch water, the past few years have been great for tequila.
According to data recently released by IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, tequila sales will overtake American whiskey sales in 2022 and are on track to overtake vodka – the most popular alcohol in the United States – by 2023. It’s no wonder so many American celebrities are taking advantage of this trend.
To celebrate the history, craftsmanship and tradition of tequila, here are five Mexican alternatives to celebrity-owned tequila brands, along with cocktail recipes, to help you celebrate the occasion.
Instead of George Clooney’s Casamigos, try LALO Blanco
LALO is named after co-founder and maestro tequilero Eduardo “Lalo” Gonzalez, the grandson of Don Julio González of the iconic tequila brand Don Julio. What started as a small private batch for friends and family in Guadalajara has turned into a tequila in high demand for its taste and purity.
Lalo carries on the legacy of his father and grandfather with a bold new approach to perfecting tequila blanco. After nearly a decade in the industry, seeing tequila follow many different trends, he and his founding partner David R. Carballido sought to take tequila back to its roots with a truly pure blanco, free of kegs and additives.
Each batch of LALO is crafted with wisdom passed down through generations of tequileros using the finest agave, hand-picked in the highlands of Jalisco, cooked using a traditional process and distilled only twice to maintain the integrity of the blend. ‘agave. The only ingredients are fully matured agave, proprietary champagne yeast and deep well water.
Try it in Ranch Water
LALO goes very well in Ranch Water, the unofficial cocktail of scorching Texas summers.
- 2 ounces of LALO Tequila
- ¼ oz fresh lime juice
- 4-5 ounces of sparkling mineral water
- Thinly sliced lime rings for garnish
Fill a Collins glass with ice cubes. Add LALO and the hand-squeezed lime juice. Fill with mineral water and garnish with lime slices.
Instead of Kylie Jenner’s 818, try La Gritona Reposado
La Gritona Reposado is distilled by Melly Cardenas and her all-female staff at NOM 1533 in the highlands of Jalisco. It is made only from agave plants that are at least 9-10 years old – harvested when they are at their peak of sugar production – towards the end of their life cycle. The trimmed piñas go to the oven within 24 hours, then crushed with steel grinders once perfectly cooked. All leftover agave from production is given to local farmers to be used as livestock feed.
The liquid is distilled in stainless steel stills, with every stage of production taking place under one roof. The installation is overseen by a small team of local women who work every process from start to finish. The reposado expression is aged in lightly charred barrels for 8 months and bottled in mouth-blown glass made from recycled Mexican coke bottles.
The production of La Gritona is still relatively small, bottling an average of 12,500 liters per batch. The taste is herbaceous, with notes of agave that have not been “whipped” by the barreling process. This is a very vegetal tequila, with no oak, pepper, vanilla or dulce de leche paired with a highland reposado. It retains the freshness of a quality blanco while showing subtle signs of Cardenas’ deliberate aging.
Try it in La Batanga
Created by Don Javier, the late founder of the oldest Tequila bar in 1961, La Batanga is a regional favorite. It’s traditionally made with another brand on this list (El Tequileño), but this La Gritona-based version is an interesting and complex twist on the original recipe.
Combine tequila, lime juice and salt in a mixing container with ice, shake vigorously. Strain over a large ice cube in a salt-rimmed rocks glass. Fill with Mexican Coca-Cola and garnish with a slice of smoked citrus.
Instead of Dwayne Johanson’s Teramana, try Tequila Santanera
Founded by 43-year-old Pablo Lara in 2009, Tequila Santanera released its first single-lot organic tequila batch in 2016. Now Lara is set to launch #LoteSiembra, a batch of just 1,836 bottles and the sixth of the Organic series, the first cut from the “La Guasima” terroir.
“It’s something like a single vine in wine, which I call single agaveyardLara said playfully. “In the case of our Bio Terroir collection, we do not combine agaves from different regions or different ages. They come from a single plot, with a selection of supreme agave that must respect a certain size, but above all, must be extremely mature, which allows us to achieve an exceptional aromatic complexity without using any type of additive.
Each batch in the organic line has a different name and flavor profile. When they’re gone, they’re gone for good because they’re impossible to breed. The terroir of the plant, together with wild yeasts and careful processes – which include fermentation aided by the sounds of Mozart – create a unique tequila of impressive quality.
While a margarita made simply with Santanera Kosher, fresh lime juice and agave nectar is a treat, these exceptional tequilas are best enjoyed neat, with a slight chill. “In our tequilas, you will only find water and agave,” explains Lara. “We respect the plant too much, because, in the end, agave is tequila and tequila is Mexico.”
Instead of Joe Jonas’ Villa One Añejo, try Tequila Fortaleza Añejo
Tequila Fortaleza’s ties to the tequila industry in Jalisco run deep. The brand is owned and run by the great-great-grandchildren of Don Cenobio Sauza, who founded his first distillery in Tequila, Jalisco, in 1873.
Fortaleza is made on a historic site using original copper stills dating back over a century. Cenobio’s descendant, Guillermo Erickson Sauza, began revamping the family distillery in 1999, using the same copper stills and tahona stone mills as his ancestor. Although Guillermo’s grandfather sold the business, the family kept the original land and distillery.
Fortaleza Añejo has notes of caramel, vanilla and butterscotch with a nose of cooked agave. It regularly receives praise as a “perfectly aged añejo” from tequila lovers around the world.
Try it in an Old Fashioned
Replace the whiskey in your next Old Fashioned with Fortaleza Añejo for a lighter, agave twist.
- 2 ounces of Añejo Fortaleza
- ½ oz Tres Agaves agave nectar
- 2-3 dashes of Peychaud Bitters
- Absinthe (spritz)
- Orange zest for garnish
Combine tequila, agave nectar, a bitters in a mixing glass with ice. Stir to cool. Spritz Cut Glass with Absinthe. Strain the cooled cocktail into the vaporized glass. Garnish with orange peel.
Instead of Adam Levine’s Calirosa Extra Añejo, try Tapatío Excelencia Gran Reserva Extra Añejo
Don Felipe Camarena Hernández was born into a family that had been distilling tequila since the early 1800s. His family’s original distillery was destroyed and abandoned during the Mexican Revolution. Don Felipe therefore began his career growing and selling agave plants to other distillers. But since making tequila was in his blood, he began distilling his own, selecting only the ripest botanicals and using equipment from his family’s original distillery.
In 1937, Don Felipe opened the La Alteña distillery and in 1940 began selling 100% blue agave tequila under the Tapatío brand. His passion for doing things right inspired his family to continue handcrafting Tapatio so it can be enjoyed by future generations.
Don Felipe passed the business on to his son, Felipe J. Camarena Orozco, who in turn passed it on to his daughters, Lilianna and Gabriela, and to his son, Carlos, who today, as master distiller , maintains the standards of excellence set by his grandfather.
The Extra Añejo de Tequila Tapatio expression is a “tequila to be enjoyed neat.” It would be unforgivable to mix on a cocktail and even dilute it with water or ice on the rocks. Comparable to the best whiskeys or cognacs on the market.