The Right Way To Drink Tequila

Devin went to the heart of Mexico to find out how to truly enjoy the beloved booze.

If you're an American you're probably doing tequila shots all wrong. Unless you drink them straight, I guess, which is totally okay and very cool. But if you're the kind of person who has salt on the web of your thumb and a lime in your other hand, you're doing it wrong.

This week I traveled to Mexico City for the premiere of Noah, but while I was South of the Border I decided to indulge a life-long dream of mine - visiting Teotihuacan, the pre-Aztec, pre-Columbian city only a few miles outside of Mexico City. Teotihuacan is an incredible ruin, featuring two stunning pyramids, one of which is the third largest on Earth. The city, featuring a broad central avenue, gorgeous murals and dozens of (remaining) buildings, was built one hundred years before the birth of Christ. At the time when Teotihuacan was inhabited it was probably the sixth most populated city on the planet. 

Teotihuacan is surrounded by villages and tourist traps and restaurants, and it was at one of these little places where I learned the true way to consume tequila. Jesus was our guide as we learned about the history of the agave plant, tasted the slightly sweet honey water it produces, and tried the ancient alcohol pulque, fermented from that honey water. Pulque is sort of the precursor to tequila, and was first made 2500 years ago. Milky and thick, with a slightly sour taste, pulque was a sacred drink, known in the native Nahuatl language as iztāc octli. The Spanish conquerers fell in love with it, but the low alcohol content was probably not enough for them. When they ran out of brandy they began using the agave to distill a new liquor known as tequila. 

Jesus told us that Mexicans scoff when they see how Americans do their tequila shots. "Pure Hollywood," he told us. There is a better way, and this is it:

- Take your lime wedge and salt it. 

- Pop the lime into your mouth and suck the juice out. 

- Throw away the rind, but keep the juice in your mouth.

- Toss back your tequila shot and merrily mix it in your mouth with the salty juice.

- Be happy.

Basically you're making a mouth margarita, and it's awesome. I'm not sure where the segmented approach to the tequila shot comes from - maybe Jesus was right and Hollywood invented it to be more cinematic - but this traditional, correct way makes the shot easier to drink, taste better and an overall better experience. 

This probably isn't a major revelation for many of you, but for those who didn't already know this will be a game-changer. Unless, of course, you drink your tequila straight up. Jesus said that's allowed - "It's how the professional tequila drinkers do it," he told us.

(That's Jesus in the picture above. I left out the part where he said you need to yell 'Ay yi yi!' after doing your tequila shot)