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So you thought tequila was just for doing that final shot that finishes you off at the end of the night? Well think again. Tequila is a sophisticated liquor made from the extract of the blue agave plant. It originates from Jalisco in Mexico and is enjoyed by specialists and aficionados around the world.
To qualify as an authentic tequila, the drink must contain at least 51% agave sugars (for the very best, look for tequilas with 100% agave sugars) and it must be produced in Mexico. Legend has it that the drink was first created when a great storm approached the farming fields of Jalisco. The people of Jalisco were forced to flee to caves in the surrounding area and pray for help from the gods.
It was Mayahuel, the goddess of fertility, who answered their cries. Her love for the humans came in the form of lightning, striking the agave fields and setting them on fire. When the storm finished, the people of Jalisco returned to their town to discover that there was a sweet – and highly intoxicating – smell emanating from the agave fields. When they tasted the liquid that had been created they realized that it was a gift from the gods.
To this day, distilleries can be found in Mexico using the traditional methods for making tequila. Agave hearts are cooked in mud ovens and the plants are harvested using donkeys. Farmers with the skills to produce tequila using this traditional method are called jimadores. Jimadores know how to identify the essential window when the agave plant is ripe and ready to be harvested.
Traditional methods and legends are at the heart of a thoroughly modern drink. Tequila is used in some of the world’s most popular cocktails, including the Margarita (with lime juice and Cointreau, which lends it a sweet, balanced finish) and the Tequila Sunrise (with orange juice and grenadine, which provides the chromatic “sunrise” effect).