Give it a shot

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No party is complete without tequila and with X’mas and New Year’s Eve just around the corner, every party planner is stocking up on this Mexican delight. What we do know is that there is a salt and lime tradition that most people associate with crazy drinking parties.

But far from that reputation, the process of making fine-aged tequila is just as involved as a fine wine or cognac.
Tequila is made by distilling the fermented juices of the blue agave plant with water. According to Mexican law all tequila must contain at least 51 per cent agave. The law requires them to be produced, bottled and inspected in Mexico, so unless you’ve ordered an imported bottle, you’re technically not drinking a tequila in India. Tequila that is not 100 per cent agave is called mixto because it is blended with sugar and water during distillation. These can be produced outside of Mexico. A famous Indian brand of blue agave liquor is Desmondjis.
Though the traditional Mexican shot is straight tequila, lime is the fruit of choice when a chaser must be used. It is believed that the salt lessens the “burn” of the tequila and the sour fruit balances and enhances the flavour.
Silver tequila is a clear spirit that can be either 100 per cent agave or mixto. These tequilas are aged no more than 60 days in stainless steel tanks, if they are aged at all. Gold tequila is an unaged silver tequila that is coloured and flavoured with caramel. These tequila blends, or mixtos, are very sweet and smooth, making them perfect for shots and frozen margaritas. Reposado, or “rested”, tequilas are aged in wood tanks or casks for a minimum of two months. This type of tequila has a robust flavour. Then there is Anejo tequila. These are aged in white or French oak barrels (and often used Bourbon barrels) for a minimum of one year producing a dark, strong spirit.
Pairing tequila with food is very much like pairing wine; you look for things like acidity and freshness to cut through fat, and things like tannin and bitterness to help break down meaty dishes. Food high on tanginess and spice go very well with tequila. Indians, like Mexicans, use a lot of beans, spice and tomatoes in their cooking. Well-marinated meats too work very well with tequila.

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