First, a quick history lesson: Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s underdog victory over Napoleon’s forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862; it is not Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16th. Following the Mexican Civil War, Mexico found itself in debt with a number of powerful countries. Unable to pay back these debts, it found itself invaded by France, Spain, and the US. The US and Spain eventually signed treaties with the new Mexican government and left peacefully, but the French felt the need to make things complicated. Emperor Napoleon III had decided to make Mexico a client state to France and had even installed the Archduke of Austria Maximilian Hapsburg as the new Emperor of Mexico. This shocking boldness was met with outrage from the Mexican people, and though initial efforts were met with tough opposition, the Battle of Puebla marked a turn in the tide of war that would eventually expel the French from Mexico completely.
The date was fixed as a holiday 4 days after the battle by President Benito Juarez, and Mexicans have been celebrating Cinco de Mayo ever since! The celebration made its way the US the following year in 1863, where Cinco de Mayo celebrations were seen as a way to show US solidarity with Mexico against the French. Flash forward to the present, where Cinco de Mayo in the US is a way to celebrate Mexican heritage and culture, all while enjoying delicious Mexican dishes and (of course) Mexican drinks! Along with great ready to enjoy featured ad items, check out our recipe for Easy Guacamole and a classic Simple Margarita and check out more great cocktail and food recipes below.
What is Tequila & How is it Made?
There’s nothing that says “Cinco de Mayo” quite like good tequila, but what is it about this traditional Mexican spirit that makes it so special anyway? What’s the difference between Añejo and Reposado? Why are they different colors? Do they all taste the same? Which one goes best in a margarita? Let’s dig in and find out!
Tequila is a distilled beverage that is made from the liquid extracted from the heart of the blue agave plant. Tequila can only be produced in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, and in the highlands (Los Altos) of the Mexican state of Jalisco. The agave plants are carefully trimmed regularly and kept from blooming or dying early. When ready to be harvested, the leaves are carefully cut away and the succulent cone is harvested. The cones are then baked and then mashed to extract the agave juice. The juice is then put into large wooden or stainless-steel vats to ferment which creates a wort. The wort is then distilled twice, resulting in a silver, or blanco, or plata tequila. It can then be bottled as is, or placed in wooden barrels to age.
Here is a quick guide to Tequila names and styles:
Blanco: (Also called Silver or Plata) Not aged or aged very briefly; Clear color with strong agave flavor and subtle sweetness & heat. Best type for cocktails and mixing.
Gold: Not 100% agave, actually a mix of colored blanco & mixto, a neutral spirit made from sugar cane. Suitable for cocktails.
Reposado: Means “rested”, aged from two months to one year. Coloring is natural and comes from oak barrels during aging, which add complexity. Food friendly and a little smoky; pair it with tacos.
Añejo: Aged one to three years in oak, darker than reposado. Best for sipping; notes of oak and smoke with underlying agave flavor. Pair it with an after-dinner cigar or a chocolate dessert.
Extra Añejo: Newest category, must be aged more than three years in oak. Woody and complex, with less noticeable agave flavor. Perfect for sipping.
Which Brand to Select?
No matter what your budget is, we have the right tequila for you! Check out this week’s ad for a full review of styles and prices, plus mixers and ready to drink cocktails and those beers we mentioned earlier!
If you’re planning on mixing up a batch of cocktails, you’ll want a tequila that’s bold in its agave flavor and with enough body to stand up to fruit mixers and intensely-flavored liqueurs; This week, try the Sauza Hornitos Tequila, available in Reposado or Plata styles, 750 ml., $16.99. Our special ‘find’ for the week is Cimarron Blanco Tequila, 1L Bottle, $21.99. Here are notes on it from Wine Buyer Richard Williams: “Made by none other than tequila legend Enrique Fonseca, with high elevation sourcing, complete control over cultivation, proprietary yeasts, and methods of crushing the agave, followed by a long, slow distillation imbues this excellent tequila with layers and layers of bright character. This should be at everybody’s bar and in everybody’s glass. No need to think twice here, folks; this is the real thing. This highland agave tequila is distilled for a dry profile to allow greater control of cocktail sweetness.”
And don’t forget that our Wine Department team is standing by to assist with any and all of your beer, wine, and spirits questions, so take full advantage of their expertise.
Drink – or Eat – Your Tequila!
Get the most from every bottle of tequila with delicious recipes from Oliver’s! Enjoy your tequila savory-style with spicy Tequila Lime Chicken or fresh and light Margarita Fish Tacos, or keep it classic with not-so-traditional cocktails like the Huatusco Whammer or the Tequila Mockingbird.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, our goal at Oliver’s is to be your helpful resource for delicious food and drink. Cheers!