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Food & Drink

Three tequilas made for sipping

Quality tequila doesn’t deserve (or require) the salt-and-lime treatment

Three tequilas made for sipping
(Image: Dave Gillespie)

Tequila is a fierce booze. That’s not news to anyone who has experienced the special hell of the bar-rail tequila hangover. There’s an easy way to avoid such calamity: if the tequila you’ve been offered is not made from 100 per cent blue agave, don’t drink it. Cheap brands—and anything confusingly labelled “gold”—consist of at least 51 per cent blue agave (as required by Mexican law); the other 49 per cent is cheap sugar cane or corn syrup. Hello, blinding headache.

Manny Contreras
(Images: Dave Gillespie)

To explore tequila’s more sophisticated side, there’s no better guide than Manny Contreras, head bartender at Wellington Street playhouse the Addisons. He’s Canada’s only master tequilero—a designation he received after taking classes at the Academia Mexicana del Tequila in Mexico City. Yes, he majored in tequila—the complex distillation and fermentation process necessary to produce the good stuff, to be precise. He also studied chemistry, botany, geography and geology. Lately, Contreras has been busy promoting Siempre Plata, a new tequila company founded by a young Toronto couple, Alex Lacroix and Monica Sanita (they operate a distillery in the town of Tequila in Mexico’s Jalisco state). “The first sip is sweet,” says Contreras, “then it’s a bit salty, then an incredible lime flavour comes through. I love it.” It should be on LCBO shelves by April; until then, bartenders are pouring it at the Addisons, La Carnita and El Catrin.

Manny’s margarita

45 mL Tromba tequila 15 mL Triple Sec 30 mL fresh lime juice 30 mL hibiscus syrup

Shake well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Hibiscus syrup adds a bright, tart, almost gingery note to the cocktail. You can find it at specialty grocery stores and at BYOB on Queen West.

At Home: Stock up on these 100 per cent agave tequilas

Tromba Reposado
Tromba Reposado $60 LCBO 360206 After six months of aging in American white oak whiskey barrels, the spirit has a mild, sweet, vanilla-like quality.
Clase Azul
Clase Azul $156 LCBO 364877 The organic agave is harvested from the Jalisco highlands, and produces an earthy tequila with pineapple and hot pepper notes.
Maestro Dobel Diamente
Maestro Dobel Diamente $75 LCBO 401307 This herbal, citrusy version is a blend of three different aged tequilas that have been specially filtered until clear.

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