Holiday get-togethers might rely on tradition as their stock-in-trade, and tequila might have cornered the market on summertime spirits, but who says you can’t mix it up a bit? Invite tequila to be the main attraction of your next holiday party. The agave-based liquor is spectacular on its own and offers an unbelievable flavor palette. We talked with John Farrell III, Haskell’s vice president of sales, about tequila—asking him for tips and tricks for hosting a tequila tasting that’s more than just shots and margaritas.
For starters, there are three common types of tequila: blanco (also known as white or silver), reposado and anejo. “Blanco is young, fresh tequila; reposado, which is aged for no more than 12 months; and anejo is the same liquid but aged longer [for at least two years],” Farrell says.
For a tequila tasting, he recommends serving these three types, more commonly known as a vertical flight. “If you try a certain tequila you like, chances are you’ll really like their reposado, and you’ll really like their anejo,” Farrell says.
Farrell has three general rules of thumb when it comes to tastings:
- Provide non-alcoholic beverages without sugar. Water is the best option, as it’s a palette cleanser with a neutral taste. Juices are good, as well—but skip anything with a lime flavor (including the limes).
- Always serve bite-sized appetizers. Consider offering neutral based foods, like chips, cheese and bland guacamole. Pull out the rest of the food after the tasting—a burrito bar with meats, veggies and spices is a great option for a tequila tasting.
- Use the same drinking glass over and over. Don’t wind up with 20 or more dirty glasses. Instead, rinse the glass, and pour a little bit of the new drink into the same glass.
Farrell says to keep it simple when you’re hosting a tasting. “If you’re tasting tequila, that’s all you want to do,” he says. It’s important to not over-do it, and be prepared to serve food and other beverages after, including beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks.
As for which tequila to serve? Farrell recommends Tres Agaves or Casamigos—as they both offer a blanco, reposado and anejo, and are good tequilas on an affordable scale. Milagro is another go-to, but Farrell says to stay away from Jose Cuervo and Patrón. He does say to drink what you like, and if you enjoy those brands, include them. If you’re a little unsure, head to your local liquor store or ask around.
If you’re on the advanced side of spirits, perhaps serve mezcal or sotol in place of tequila. The differences between the three is where they come from and the way they’re made. Mezcal is distilled with wood and charcoal, giving it a smoky flavor. Sotol is distilled only from wild harvested agave plants and takes 12–15 years to reach maturity.
So, now you’re ready to host a holiday tequila tasting party. Though a bit out of the ordinary, you’re bound to make a bold statement. And, as Farrell says, “Tequila can be the reason for the party.”
With different flight options, it can be difficult to pick just one. Here’s the lowdown on the differences between a horizontal, vertical and spirits of Mexico flight.
Horizontal: A horizontal flight is three of the same product from different brands. For example, three different brands of reposados or three versions of a blanco.
Vertical: Farrell recommends serving vertical flights, as it's three products from the same brand of tequila but typically offers a blanco, reposado and an anejo. This provides the most variety, and the taster experiences the spirit as it has aged.
Spirits of Mexico: This flight is usually best for an introduction to agave products. Its three products are all made in Mexico but includes different spirits produced from different plants. This flight can include tequila, a mezcal and sotol.