To celebrate National Tequila Day on July 24th, we’re sharing ten fun facts about the most popular Mexican spirit in the world.
1. Tequila is Always Mexican
All the tequila that is drunk in the world – some 55 million litres per year – is produced in the area between the cities of Tequila and Guadalajara, an area covering a radius of only about 150 km. In fact, it can only be processed in Mexico, more precisely in the state of Jalisco and in some limited areas in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit and Tamaulipas.
2. It’s Named After a Town
Tequila is named after the town of the same name in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The name of the city of Tequila is in turn derived from the name of the native people who lived in the area, the Tequiles. It was in this town (founded in 1666) that tequila began to be produced in the 16th century by the conquistadors, who were looking for a local substitute for their much-loved brandy. The Spaniards were inspired by pulque, a white liqueur of Aztec origin made from the fermentation of agave.
3. Only Blue Agave is Allowed
Tequila is made from the agave plant. The variety used is the blue (or azul) agave and its cultivation is concentrated mainly around the city of Tequila. Not surprisingly, the scientific name of this plant is Agave tequilana.
4. Tequila and Mezcal are Not The Same
Tequila and mezcal are two different drinks! Find out more in our blog post The Differences between Mezcal and Tequila.
5. It’s a Gift from the Gods
According to the Aztecs, agave was a gift from the fertility goddess Mayáhuel. The plant was used to satisfy all the needs of the community: it was a source of water and sugars; pulque (for nobles and priests) could be produced from it; its fibres were used to make objects and clothing; it was excellent as food for animals and it was used as fuel.
6. There is Never a Worm in it!
It is absolutely impossible to find a bottle of tequila in circulation that contains a worm. The “gusano” is only found in mezcal. It is a worm that lives in the agave plant and is carefully collected by Mexican farmers, the jimadores. In Mexico, it is an honour to drink the glass with the worm. It is said to give sexual vigour to whoever swallows it.
7. Opened Bottles Should be Drunk Quickly
Like most spirits, when properly stored, tequila has an indefinite shelf life, even after opening. However, once opened, tequila will start to lose its aroma and flavour, and it can even start to lose alcohol due to evaporation. To enjoy the spirit at its best, drink it within a few months of opening, and definitely within a year.
8. We Need Bats to Produce it
Leptonycteris curasoae and Leptonycteris nivalis, two species of bat in danger of extinction, are attracted by the smell of the agave flower, which only opens at night. The animals become impregnated with pollen and, as they fly around, they encourage the plant’s reproduction. Unfortunately, man-made buildings and structures often prevent the bats from reaching the plants in the crops, which then don’t flower or reproduce.
9 – It was Frida Kahlo’s Favourite Drink
“‘Doctor, if you let me drink this tequila, I promise I won’t touch a drop at my funeral’. Frida Kahlo, the revolutionary Mexican artist and icon of female independence, was a big fan! Despite her health problems, she never stopped drinking it.
10. The Margarita is one of the 10 Most Popular Cocktails in the World
Tequila, triple sec and lime or lemon juice. Every year, the Margarita is featured in the Top 10 most drunk cocktails in the world. Story has it that the birth of this drink dates back to the early 20th century and is linked to the actress Marjorie King. It’s said that the American star has an alcohol intolerance, with the exception of tequila!
Is it just us or has all this talk of tequila got you wanting a shot of Mexico’s most famous spirit?
If so, check out Drinks&Co’s selection of over 100 tequilas!
And remember: if life gives you lemons, add salt and tequila!