If you drive a few hours south from the Texas Hill Country you hit the border with Mexico where the town of Tequila in the Jalisco region is the centre for making …. well I think you might guess what they produce in Tequila!
In Southern Texas it seems that a Margarita cocktail made with Tequila is to a Texan what a glass of chilled champagne might be to a Parisian – the preferred local drink to sip on a warm summer evening. While staying at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country resort, I discovered the Cibolo Moon Tequila bar and, curious to find out more, arranged to have a Tequila tasting with Derek Ratliff who not only talked me through some of the eighty Tequilas on offer but showed me how to make a delicious Margarita.
In the bar area adjoining the Cibolo Moon restaurant (Cibolo is the local Indian word for buffalo ) a selection of Tequilas were laid out for us to try and although I’m not normally a great drinker I came away able to distinguish my Blanco from my Añejo, having sipped a good glass or three of Tequila in the process. For the uninitiated, Tequila has been drunk in Mexico for centuries, probably starting out as the hooch that locals would brew at home by fermenting the long, spiny leaves of the Agave plant.
I hope you enjoy the video below on how to make a perfect Margarita
Somewhere a long the line a clever person realised that the piña, or heart of this succulent is a whole lot more potent than the leaves and Tequila, a liquor distilled from the piña was born. The Agave plants grow in plantations all around the town of Tequila taking 8-10 years to reach a size when they can be harvested. Like Champagne, only Tequila made in the region has the right to use the name and if you’re picky you’ll be looking to check that your Tequila is made from 100% Blue Agave as some of the lower quality versions may mix the Blue Agave with cheaper spirits.
In between sips I learned from Derek that the Blanco is the purest form of Tequila, as it comes fresh from the distillery. Also known as Plata or Silver Tequila, it may be aged for up to 45 days and is normally used to make Margaritas and other mixed cocktails. Next in the age scale is the Reposado or ‘Rested’ Tequila which is aged in oak barrels for between 2 and 12 months giving it a more mellow flavour and a pale yellow colour. The oak casks used to age the Reposado Tequila may come from whisky distillers like Jim Beam and Jack Daniels and even my uneducated palate could detect some whisky overtones.
The golden oldie of the Tequila family is the Añejo which is aged in white oak casks for a minimum of 12 months, picking up more flavour and colour from the oak barrel – this is the one that you might sip on the porch with just a slice of orange to enjoy the more complex flavours, just like we would sip a good whisky in front of the log fire. Derek told me how in the Jose Cuervo Tequila distillery they hold their Reserva La Familia Añejo Tequila in such high regard that they stand as a sign of respect when they drink it, as if it were a senior member of the family.
At the Cibolo Moon Tequila Bar they also make infused Tequilas in glass jars, leaving different ingredients to marinade for 3-5 days so that the Tequila takes on their added flavour and is then used to make some unusual cocktails. Depending what’s been brewing at the bar, you might get to try strawberry-jalapeño, raspberry-habanero, or rosemary-pineapple and Derek gave us a mixture to sniff that was infusing with tomatoes, jalapeño chili peppers, white onions and lime giving it a fragrance that was somewhere between tossed salad and a newly cut grass. This kind of vegetable infusion might be poured over a Bloody Mary mix and another favourite is the Banderita where three shot glasses are laid out, with Blanco Tequila in the centre glass and on either side a glass of Sangrita, a citrus based cocktail, and lime juice, making the red, white and green colours of the Mexican flag.
Having tried all the different style of Tequila, Derek made me my favourite of the evening, the classic Cibolo Staple Margarita mixing Dulce Vida Reposada Tequila, Patrón Citrónge orange liqueur, freshly squeezed lime juice and agave nectar shaken over ice and poured into a salt rimmed glass. I love citrus flavours so this was right up my street, combining salty, sweet and sour with a nice kick to put you in a good mood for the rest of the evening. Delicious!
How to make a Cibolo Staple Margarita
The classic Margarita from the Cibolo Moon Tequila Bar at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort, Texas
1 ½ oz Dulce Vida Reposado Tequila
½ oz Patrón Citrónge liqueur
2 oz Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
1 ½ oz Agave Nectar
How to make the Cibolo Staple Margarita
In a cocktail shaker combine the Tequila, Citrónge, freshly squeezed Lime Juice and Agave Nectar and shake over ice. Rim the Margarita glass with salt and fill the with ice then drain the cocktail into the glass. Serve with a lime wedge and straw and enjoy on a warm Texas night – so refreshing!
Visitor Information for the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country
Thanks to the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country for hosting our Tequila tasting and stay at the resort. JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country is a 30 minute drive from San Antonio so you can combine sightseeing at the Alamo and on the Riverwalk with exploring the lovely historic towns and rolling countryside of the Texas Hill Country. The resort has a golf course, spa, water park with pools, slides and a lazy river as well as several different restaurants including the Cibolo Moon which serves Texan and Mexican specialities.
The Tequila Tasting costs around $20 per person and non residents can also book for a Tequila Tasting and visit the Cibolo Moon Tequila Bar and Restaurant
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
23808 Resort Parkway
San Antonio, TX 78261
More things to see in Texas
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