Once a drink which was only shot, the often colourless Mexican spirit, tequila, has long been responsible for some our favourite cocktails. Where would we be without the beloved Margarita? Or how about the infamous Tequila Sunrise?
And now the tasty tipple, which originates from the Jalisco region in northern Mexico, is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. 'It has moved from a drink that was supposed to be unpleasant to one that you could actually really enjoy,' Ben Fordham, Co-Founder of Mexican eaterie Benito’s Hat said.
So, to get you in the tequila mood here are 5 reasons why we think it's so great.
1. There are more varieties available than ever
'For too long the bars and restaurants of the UK served really mediocre stuff,' Ben said. 'The quality and variety have improved enormously in recent years and, with that, awareness has grown of the great flavours and varieties of some tequilas.'
Nowadays many tequilas contain 100% blue agave (which is a natural sweetener harvested from the core of the Blue Agave plant and used in tequila) like Tequila Reposado, which is handcrafted at the Casa Herradura estate located in the heart of Jalisco, or Herradura Reposado Original Tequila, which was founded many moons ago in 1870.
2. It's oh-so-tasty by itself
Tequila's not a drink for the faint-hearted. But if you're drinking a good quality tequila, like Patron Silver Tequila, then there should be no sharp aftertaste which is often associated with the spirit. Ben said: 'My appreciation of tequila has grown over the nine years of Benito’s Hat and I now really enjoy sipping it.'
Our current favourites include; Sierra Tequila which is a mature, clear liquor and it has a fruity aroma dominated by a subtle chilli note and El Jimador Reposado Tequila, which is named after the farmers who grow and harvest the agave plants. It's a 100% agave tequila which has been aged for 3 months before bottling. Or, for any beer-lovers out there they'll love a Desperado, which is the world's first tequila flavoured beer. It's got a light and refreshing taste balanced with a spicy tequila kick and lemony notes for sweetness. We'll cheers to that!
3. Tequila makes for a great cocktail
'It's really in the margaritas that tequila has flourished,' Ben said. 'They were always a fun, party drink, but now they are being made properly, with good tequila and fresh juices, which means that they now taste fantastic too. Keep it simple, a good 100% blue agave tequila is what you need to make a great margarita. It doesn’t need to be expensive but it must be 100%.'
Why not try making our Turmeric & honey margarita cocktail? The turmeric adds a beautiful colour and warm flavour to this cocktail favourite.
4. It's so versatile
There aren’t many fruits that you can’t make a great margarita out of. From pineapple and blackberry to mango and pomegranate - take your pick. Ben said: 'We have a watermelon one that is very popular and are currently doing a special with pineapple, mint, coriander and a little chilli that is amazing.
'Moving away from margaritas you have a Paloma (a fantastically refreshing long drink made with grapefruit soda) and we’ve also done a tequila old fashioned (you need an aged tequila for this) that is one for the tequila lover.'
5. Mexican food and tequila are a match made in heaven
From chilli con carne to nachos and on-trend tacos - there's no Mexican food a tequila cocktail doesn't pair well with. Ben said: 'Mexican food has also grown significantly recently with great strides in quality and variety.
'Burritos and margaritas really do make an amazing combination!'
So why not try a margarita with our pulled pork burritos? These Mexican-inspired tortilla wraps are bursting with flavour.
You could try pairing them with our spicy beef nachos, which have a touch of spice.
You could always serve that up with a side of steak, which is infused in Mexican chimichurri spices.