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 V.16 No.37 | September 13 - 19, 2007 

Cocktail Culture

A Shot of Mexican Culture

Tequila done right for Dieciséis de Septiembre

Americans have a way of getting foreign culture all wrong. (Maybe other countries do it, too, but right now it's most fashionable to bash Americans.)

Let’s start with Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day; it is the commemoration of winning a battle against France. When you consider that beating France is not all that hard to do you will realize that Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday. The real deal is Dieciséis de Septiembre, or Sept. 16, when Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain. Freaking gabachos.

Tequila—and its lesser known brother, mezcal—is also horribly misunderstood. On this side of the border, tequila is quickly knocked back with salt and lime, either of which may be licked or sucked off some floozy’s barely clothed body. Pendejos drink tequila in this fashion.

In Mexico, tequila is sipped at room temperature either by itself or with a chaser known as sangrita. Sangrita is a mixture of tomato juice, orange juice and chile served on the side. I suppose you could lap up your sangrita from some puta’s bellybutton—if you must.

Tequila and mezcal are both distilled from the agave plant, which you may also know as the Century Plant or Maguey. Tequila is made from blue agave while mezcal may be made from any of several agave varieties.

There are three basic types of tequila. According to El Tesoro de Don Felipe, named "Distiller of the Year" two years in a row at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Reposado must be aged for a minimum of two months and Añejo one year. Other tequilas, such as silver, or Blanca, tequila, spend less than two months in the barrel. Oro, or gold, tequilas have coloring added to them.

And one more thing: Tequila never has a worm in the bottom of the bottle. That, mis amigos, is mezcal.

All liquor made from agave that is not blue agave is called mezcal. Each type of agave produces a mezcal with a different flavor.

Now that you're armed with information you can use it to impress your amigos.

This Dieciséis de Septiembre, invite your white homeys over for a casual fiesta. And if you're a good liberal, I bet you have a Mexican buddy or two that you can call up to further show off your multicultural prowess.

When your guests arrive, greet them with this creative, but not overly traditional, rendition of tequila with a sangrita—when served, it proudly displays the colors of the Mexican flag.

Tequila con Sangrita de Bandera

You will need 3 tall and narrow shot glasses (similar to vodka glasses) for each serving—that's 12 glasses total.
Makes 4 servings


8 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
8 ounces Blanca or silver tequila
8 ounces tomato juice
Tabasco or other hot sauce

1) Divide the lime juice between 4 shot glasses (2 ounces per glass).

2) Divide the tequila between another 4 shot glasses (2 ounces per glass).

3) Divide the tomato juice between the remaining 4 shot glasses (2 ounces per glass).

4) Add Tabasco sauce to taste to the tomato juice.

5) To serve, line up a glass with lime juice, a glass with tequila and then a glass with tomato juice in front of each guest. Starting with the lime juice, alternately sip from each glass. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for not being the biggest cabron in the melting pot.

Tomorrow's Events

Torino's Beer Dinner at Torinos' @ Home

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Chef Jonathan Perno has created a three-course lavender tasting menu. Reservations required.

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