Five Reasons Tequila is Good for You
1. Tequila Doesn't Give You a Hangover:
"Yeah, right!" you say? "Yeah, right," says mixologists and tequila makers on both sides of the border.
"Tequila treats you the same way you treat it," says Steve Calabro, bartender at Rick Bayless's Red O in Los Angeles. "If you aggressively slam it back, it will get mad and return the favor."
Start with a quality tequila. First, look for "100% Agave" on the label. Under Mexican law, "tequila" must be made only from the blue Weber agave plant from the Tequila region of Mexico.
US regulations, on the other hand, allow it to be called tequila even if it contains as much as 49-percent other liquids, usually sugar-based alcohols. Many experts say it's these "mixtos" that give tequila its bad reputation. (Think, "champagne" that's not from the Champagne region of France.)
Sue Torres, chef of Sueños in New York City, also credits "chemicals and additives such as coloring or a worm" for tequila headaches. The worm makes for a colorful story (merchants legendarily put worms in bottles of mezcal, tequila's first cousin, to show that the contents were alcohol, not water), but, Torres cautions, "Don't buy mezcal that has a worm in it."
2. Tequila Has Health Benefits:
Experts say that a shot before lunch can stimulate the appetite, and one after a big dinner can aid digestion. Pairing that shot with a glass of water is a good way to go.
Torres says that tequila is better for people with blood sugar sensitivities than other alcohols, because "the sugars are simple sugars, so they break down easily in your body."
"I have read that tequila has a component that can, in moderation, aid in lowering cholesterol," says Roger Bailey, head bartender at Filini in Chicago. Studies have shown that tequila can break down dietary fat, lowering LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels. In addition, he says, "tequila will alleviate mild strain, tension, and headaches," though he adds "I don't suggest slamming tequila to get rid of a migraine."
Moderation is, obviously, the key. All the experts caution that overdoing any alcoholic beverage is harmful.
3. Tequila Makes You Smarter: (Or at least, knowing about it makes people think you are.)
The Tequila Regulation Council recognizes five types of tequila: 1) colorless blancos and 2) platas (silvers) are typicall right out of the distiller, 3) reposados must age at least two month, 4) añejos over one year. 5) a newer category, extra-añejo, ages even longer (e.g. Herradura ages its extra-añejo for 49-months, by which time the liquid has lost 40-percent of its volume, which makers call the "angel's share").
Silvers are taken right from the still, typically tasting most like the agave plant, and their clean flavor makes them a favorite for mixing cocktails. As tequilas barrel-age into reposados, añejos, and extra-añejos, they take on increasingly complex flavors and colors.
"A great reposado or añejo will lend slight woody and vanilla notes, and if you are lucky, it will have some smoke to it," says Roger Bailey. Aficionados prefer to sip these aged tequilas like brandy. Not to mention, when some añejos cost in the hundreds--or thousands--of dollars a bottle, it seems a waste to mix them.
One category the Tequila Regulation Council does not recognize: gold. That's a marketing name for tequila enhanced with caramel coloring, or "mixtos" mixed with alcohol made from something other than 100% Weber blue agave.
4. Tequila is Classy:
If you're like most Americans and Europeans, you probably tried your first tequila at a party at a) a beach, b) a frat house, or c) "Um, I don't remember?"
"In Mexico, tequila is a very sophisticated product that you don't relate with a party," says Alberto Becherano Maya of Elixir & More, which distributes the El Capricho brand. The byword: sip it, don't swill it.
It's also great in cooking, says Jimmy Shaw, chef-owner of L.A.'s Loteria Grill, which makes an ice cream of reposado tequila and tequila-lime cheesecake with jalapeño-tequila whipped cream. Shaw's rule of thumb when cooking with tequila: "flavors that mix well in a glass should work well in a dish."
5. Tequila is Mexico in a Bottle:
"You're not tasting only liquor," says Becerano Maya. "You're tasting history."
Jaime Salas, brand ambassador of Milagro Tequila, calls the drink a national point of pride. "You can now your the agave landscape similar to that of Napa and its wineries. There are also different government agencies set in place to preserve the integrity of the spirit all the while promoting its unique benefits and culture."
Driving around the town of Tequila feels like a visit to an old world winery town in Europe. Herradura's distillery dates from 1870 and played a role in the rebellion of the 1920s, hiding faithful Christians who were being pursued by Mexican soldiers.
Sip a lot of tequilas, experts say, and you'll also notice terroirs, flavors that come from the soil: highlands, lowlands and more. "To taste tequila is to taste Mexico," says Ana Paula Pelayo of the Dos Armadillos distillery. She likens the aroma of her favorite tequilas to "Mexico after the rain."
Adapted from Forbes.