Traditional Mexican Food In the Heart of Old Town San Diego

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How to Appreciate Good Tequila?

December 16, 2010

One of the most popular rituals used when drinking tequila is the famous shot. Salt licked off the top of your hand, tequila and finally biting into a wedge of lime. This ritual dates back to the 1930’s flu epidemic in Mexico. It is said that doctors would prescribe this to their patients to kill the germs. The salt and lime was used help extinguish the tequila burn and sometimes bad taste. This ritual is sometimes practiced today due to the fact that tequila education has not reached out to everyone.

Quality tequila has emerged from the numerous low quality, “mixto” tequilas that flood the market. It is all about 100 percent agave tequilas now. Tequila that tastes good, is complex and does not give you a hangover is what many people are discovering. The question is, do we continue to shoot back a product that took so long to create?

I have learned that there is a better way to consume tequila. Sipping on tequila is an alternative to help you appreciate its complex aromas and flavors. First choose tequila that is 100 percent agave to avoid hangovers. The glass you select is also crucial when tasting tequila. A brandy snifter or a Ridel flute-like tequila glass is a perfect selection because it has a stem that you can hold so that your hand does not warm up the content. It also permits you to swirl it to funnel up the alcohol and is wide enough to let you put your nose in it without getting to close to the liquid.

Step one: Pour about an ounce and a half of tequila in a nice glass.

Step two: use your sense of sight to look at the liquid. If the tequila is not aged it should be as clear as water.  If the tequila is aged it should have a gold to amber color. This depends on how long it is aged. A quality tequila should not have any sediments in it. Give it a swirl and it should form a nice viscous neck with slow dripping tears or legs. This is the body of the tequila.

Step three: use your sense of smell. After the swirl let a sit for about 30 seconds before you “nose” it. If you nose it right away the primary alcohols give you a burning sensation. Let it breath to let the strong alcohols funnel out. Take your time to discover the complex aromatics. 600 different aromas have been discovered in tequila so far.

Step four: use your sense of taste. The key here is sipping. Your tongue perceives four basic components of taste: Sweet on the tip of the tongue, salty and acidic on the lateral parts and bitter on the back of the tongue. Start by making sure that the front of the tongue is exposed to the tequila first and the back last. This will permit you to discover more flavors. The finish is when you swallow the liquid. Is it smooth, rough, silky? These are only some of the adjectives used to describe the finish but there are more.

Repeat these steps more than once to let your senses and the tequila open up. Soon you will discover and find that there is more to just shooting back good tequila.

Salud!!!

Tequila vs. Mezcal

One of the biggest misconceptions that I encounter when I talk to my customers about tequila is the question about the worm in the bottle. Today I would like to clarify the worm myth.

It is quit simple; tequila never has a worm in the bottle. The spirit that sometimes has the worm in the bottle is called mezcal.

Tequila and mezcal are related but differ in many ways. Mezcal has been around since the 16th century. Tequila is simply the son of this mother spirit. Tequila is a type of mezcal but has acquired the name of its town, Tequila to distinguish itself from mezcals that are produced in states such as Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Durango and Zacatecas.

To be called tequila, the agaves used for tequila production can only come from the entire state of Jalisco and selected counties of the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Tequila can only be distilled from only one variety of agave, the Agave Tequilana Weber Azul.

Though tequila is generally known to be a type of mezcal, rules and regulations have been implemented to distinguish between these two spirits from Mexico. Since tequila goes through a steam cooking process, in masonry or stainless steel autoclaves (steam pressure cookers) the end product conserves a steamed agave flavor that is most notable in blanco (silver) tequilas. You will never see a bottle of tequila that has the name mezcal on the bottle or vice versa.

Mezcal can be made from various types of agaves such as: Espadin, Tóbala (wild agave), Cierego and Mexicano, just to mention a few. One of the most notable features about mezcal is its production. The traditional method of roasting the agave in underground wood-fired pits, stone milling, and distilling in small batches using small copper pot stills helps mezcal aquire its smokiness, unique aromas and flavors. It is important to note that some mezcals today are acquiring more state of the art production methods but still keep some traditional touches to distinguish among other agave-based spirits.

Tequila is what I call, an evolution of mezcal. There is an old saying that goes:

“For everything bad, drink mezcal; and for everything good, you also should. ”

Salud!

Mario Marquez

Tequila Ambassador

Café Coyote

A Taste of Cabo

No need to travel to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California to taste great tequila. Cabo Wabo tequila is available here in sunny Old Town, San Diego. For the month of December, Cabo Wabo will be our tequila of the Month. Cabo Wabo is flavorful tequila that is produced in Arandas, Jalisco by Destiladora San Nicolas (NOM, 1440).

Currently Cabo Wabo is produced in 4 styles: blanco, reposado, añejo and extra añejo. Its blanco is crystal-clear with a fresh floral bouquet. It has spicy lime notes with full agave flavors. The reposado is rested for 4-6 months in American oak casks. It has a bold peppery flavor and hints of fruit that linger on the palate briefly, followed by a long, spicy finish. If you prefer something a little bit richer try the añejo is a perfect fit. It is aged for 14 months in American Oak barrels that give it a full vanilla caramel nose with honey and chocolate flavors.

If you really want to treat yourself and be a tequila king/queen Cabo Uno, extra añejo will satisfy your sophisticated palate. Aged for 38 months in charred American oak. This small batch tequila uses only the ripest agaves and the heart of the distillation process. It has herb and tropical fruit aroma with, chocolate caramel and roasted coffee flavors.

These tequilas are sold at Café Coyote for: $ 7.50 (blanco), $ 9.00 (reposado) $ 11.00 (añejo) and $30.00 (Cabo Uno, Extra Anejo). You can try these tequilas neat or in a margarita. If you want any of these tequilas in a margarita it will only cost $ 1.95 more. I recommend that you sip the extra añejo to discover its unique complexity of aromas and flavors.

Salud!

Mario

San Diego Wine and Food Festival

What an exciting day I had this Tequila Thursday. My day began with moderating a class in the San Diego Bay and Wine Food Festival. Chefs, sommeliers and tequila aficionados participated in the “Art of tequila class”.

The panel of experts was made up of representatives from four different prestigious tequila brands to help create meaning and awareness of tequila culture, quality and different production styles.

Ruben Aceves, Global Brand Ambassador for tequila Herradura flew in from Guadalajara, Jalisco to share his brands rich history.  Marco Ramos, Brand Ambassador for tequila Fortaleza explained his brands unique production style. Eric Ruben, co-owner of tequila Tres Agaves introduced his relatively new brand and gave us some great tequila-food recipes. Finally, Nene Gonzalez, Brand Manager of tequila Alma de Agave had some great insight on Terroir.

All four panelists and audience learned from each other. People that had experience with wine, cooking and other spirits shared a wealth of knowledge about their specialty that helped to create connections and endless possibilities to create new innovations with tequila and food.

I put my studies to practice right away when arriving to Café Coyote. With the help of my colleague, Kenny Kaufman we decided to play around with old traditional Sangrita recipes to create the mango sangrita. Our old recipe was based on Orange Juice, hot sauce and spices. We substituted the traditional salsa for a mango salsa that made our tequila chaser different and a bit sweeter than usual. Next time you are at Café Coyote, ask for Mario, your one and only Tequila Ambassador and I will personally make this mango wonder.

Salud!

Cafe Coyote Remembers Brad Hoover, the founder of tequila Corrido

Thank you everyone who attended last weeks memorial gathering for Brad Hoover of Tequila Corrido. The tequila community in San Diego is a very close community that supports one another when times are tough. For a brand out of Scottsdale Arizona that is produced in Atotonilco el Alto, Jalisco Corrido was quickly recognized throughout San Diego for its unique production style and quality. Imagine, a single-estate, single-barrel tequila that gets aged to taste not to time in their aged tequilas.

Brad Hoovers

Who could forget the late Brad Hoover, an individual who had a true passion for tequila? I first met Brad Hoover about a year ago at the Spirits of Mexico grand tasting at Liberty Station. What I mind I thought? We began working together about six months ago and feel that in this short amount of time I was able to learn an abundance of information about the tequila aging process. Brad was a mentor and true friend.

In his remembrance we featured tequila Corrido during last weeks tequila Thursday. Specialty Corrido cocktails were served all nightlong we gave a toast drinking our favorite Corrido style. Mine was the añejo that I always found so complex. This single-barrel, triple-barrel tequila that gets “racked” in three different types of barrels reminds me most of Brad’s creativity to make and awesome tequila. You will be missed!! Rest in peace my brother.

Salud!