THE BASE OF MANY DRINKS IN MEXICO-TEQUILA
Tequila is the best-known spirit from Mexico and is the base of many mixed drinks. Tequila is typically made between 38-40% alcohol (76 to 80 proof). However, sometimes, Tequila is made at 100 proof and then diluted to bring the alcohol content down to the acceptable standard. Some of the more respected brands of Tequila will distill the alcohol to exactly 80 proof, eliminating the need to dilute with water.
Mexican laws state that Tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco (except for 2 distilleries in other states). It is made from the blue agave plant — this plant lives in soil consisting of red volcanic material, which provides ideal growing conditions. In Mexico, there are about 300 million blue agave plants harvested each year.
For Tequila to be considered pure, the label must state it was manufactured with 100% blue agave. Some Tequila will be made with 51% blue agave and this is referred to as a mixto. Some Mexican Tequila distilleries claim the Tequila is made from blue agave or made with blue agave. Regardless, if the label does not state 100% blue agave, the Tequila would not qualify as pure and considered a mixto.
The most traditional way to drink Tequila in Mexico is with salt and lemon, not lime. It is typically consumed straight up which means, you rub a little lemon on your hand, sprinkle on salt, and proceed to consume the tequila and lick your hand.
MARGARITA IS THE MOST POPULAR MIXED DRINK IN MEXICO
The Margarita is the most popular mixed drink in all of Mexico and generally contains about 50% Tequila. Besides Tequila, this cocktail mix includes 29% Triple Sec liqueur and 21% either lime or lemon juice. Margarita’s are usually served without ice (straight up) or blended with ice (frozen Margarita). In Mexico, Margaritas are generally made with Mexican limes or key limes.
To add variety to Margaritas, bartenders sometimes include various sugars or syrups. Occasionally, Margaritas are made with fruit including strawberries, blueberries, orange, cherries and mangos.
Typically, this tropical cocktail includes rum, pineapple juice and coconut milk. Even though there’s a standard way to make the Coco Loco, it is common for bartenders to add vodka, gin or tequila to this recipe. Sometimes, the Coco Loco is served in a coconut shell.
Paloma is one of the most traditional drinks in Mexico. It includes Tequila, fresh lime juice, grapefruit juice and soda water. Another option is to add sugar or sugar syrup to this cocktail. Bartenders will shake the mixture with ice and strain into a tall glass that contains ice. To finish making the Paloma, soda water is added to the top. Some bartenders claim it’s essential to choose high quality Tequila to compliment the tart lime and grapefruit juice.
DARK BROWN LIQUEUR-KAHLUA
Kahlua is dark brown in color with a thicker consistency than most other alcoholic beverages. It is considered a Mexican flavored liqueur. The coffee is grown in remote parts of Mexico producing coffee beans with a distinct flavor.
It is not as thick or heavy as a syrup, but generally is thicker than the stronger types of liquor. Besides coffee beans, Kahlua contains sugar, corn syrup and vanilla. Sometimes, it contains vodka.
In terms of alcohol content, Kahlua is a little bit on the weak side and generally contains less alcohol than the majority of liqueur consumed. Kahlua is listed as 53 proof, which is about 26 percent alcohol by volume. Because of its distinct taste, Kahlua often masks much of the alcohol taste.
MIXED DRINKS IN MEXICO
Because Tequila is the most common spirit in Mexico, you will find it as a base in many tropical drinks in Mexico. For example, the Paloma and Margarita, are two popular drinks that use Tequila as a base. The Coco Loco is a less known tropical drink but for those interested in a rum based drink coconut milk and pineapple juice, it might be worth to try. Another option is Kahlua, an alternative to tropical drinks. It has less alcohol, dark brown in color and a thicker consistency than most other mixed drinks.