April 15, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Tequila was North America’s first distilled spirit. Sadly, for most of its history, it has been tarnished with a reputation as a cheap liquor often used to make margaritas or “shooters” with lime and salt.

In the last couple of decades, that has started to change as many distillers are producing high-end tequilas for export to America that are designed to be collected, sipped, and savored. I have been a connoisseur of high-end tequilas since the mid ‘80s. Back then they were hard to find, but nowadays most every reputable bar will have several high-end tequilas on their premium liquor list. Tequila is becoming the North American version of Scotch.

To be classified as tequila, it must be made from a distillation of at least 51 percent blue agave and be from the state of Jalisco. High-end tequilas are always made from 100 percent blue agave. Today’s high-end tequilas are highly coveted by collectors worldwide for both the smooth aromatic liquor and the handcrafted decorative bottle.

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Jose Salazar, manager of La Mesa.

Locally, the great people at the La Mesa Mexican Restaurants have embraced the popularity of fine tequilas. The managers and employees at the La Mesa restaurants are extremely knowledgable about tequila and take it very seriously. In fact, La Mesa was the first Mexican restaurant in the Midwest to be certified by the Tequila Regulatory Council. I have not found a better selection of high-end tequilas anywhere in town.

For the past several years, La Mesa has been hosting special Tequila tasting dinner events. I have attended some of these events, and I can tell you that these events are an excellent opportunity for novice tequila drinkers and connoisseurs alike to enjoy some fine tequilas and learn more about their characteristics and production. The events often include a presentation by the distiller and a multi-course dinner with each dish paired with a different tequila. The food at these events deserves special mention. The chefs at La Mesa must really enjoy these events because they go all out, and the creative Mexican dishes they come up with are reason alone to attend one of these events.

The next La Mesa Tequila Tasting event is scheduled for June 2. Make your reservation today at any La Mesa location. You’ll be glad you did.

Cheers!

For more information, visit la-mesa.com.

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