Tuesday, July 24, 2018
National Tequila Day
Today we celebrate tequila, a liquor distilled from the Mexican blue agave plant. A sweet sap from the plant's heart called "aquamiel"—meaning "honey water"—is used to make it. Tequila is actually a mezcal, although not all mezcals are tequila. Any spirit made from an agave plant is a mescal, but in order for it to be considered tequila, it has to come from the blue variation of the plant. The Mexican government allows labeling something as tequila if it has at least 51 percent agave-derived sugar—the rest can be cane or corn sugar. Mexican law says that for a spirit to be considered to be tequila, it also must be manufactured in one of five Mexican states: Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Guanajuato, or Tamaulipas.
Before the arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century, the Aztecs were making a drink by fermenting the agave plant. After Mexico was colonized, people that lived in the city of Tequila began making a drink similar to that which the Aztecs had made. Many consider this to be the first tequila, and it was actually quite similar to Mezcal wine. True tequila came about a bit later, and the word was first printed in 1795, when José María Guadalupe Cuervo was given the first commercial license to produce it, from the king of Spain. American troops brought tequila back to the United States after fighting Pancho Villa in 1916. However, sustained popularity of tequila in the US didn't arrive until the 1960s when university students in California began drinking it. Sales began to grow, and it was especially popular for its use in making margaritas.
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