Tequila Expert Guide

In Mexico, the traditional way to drink tequila is neat and with small sips. You will never see a pro-tequila-drinker shotting it down.

Besides ignoring the hard work that goes into producing each glass–unless it’s the cheap stuff– shotting tequila makes you look like an ameteur.

It is popular to drink tequila accompanied with an equal-sized shot of ‘sangrita’, a spicy, tomato-based drink.

If you’re feeling nationalistic, order a ‘bandera’ (flag), which includes three shot glasses that represent the Mexican flag: lime juice (green), young tequila (white), and sangrita (red).

Some recommend drinking tequila chilled, but premium tequilas do not impart significant alcohol burn, and chilling tequila can reduce the smell and flavors. Instead, premium tequilas should be drunk at room temperature, using a snifter or large shot glass (caballito, or little horse in Spanish).

An ‘official tequila glass’ was approved by the Tequila regulatory board (Consejo Regulador del Tequila) called the Ouverture Tequila glass, by Riedel. The shape is like a sherry glass and recommended especially for aged tequilas (reposado, añejo and reserva).

With older tequilas, you may find smooth hints of vanilla or butterscotch, while younger tequilas are more vibrant, vegetal, fruity and peppery. The flavor is also influenced by different terroirs, the flavors that come from the soil of highlands and lowlands, and give you a real taste of Mexico. Agave plants from lowlands produce an earthier flavor, while highland plants often produce fruitier or sweeter tequila flavors. The age of the agave plant is another influencer on flavor, with older plants providing richer, sweeter notes.

Does Tequila Go Bad?

For storing tequila, young tequila doesn’t contain tannins, unlike wine. So even if storage conditions are not ideal, the flavor of tequila remains relatively constant after bottling. Tequilas aged in barrels may be more prone to changes. In any case, the best way to preserve your tequila is to avoid exposure to direct sunlight, keep it at a constant temperature (60–65°F or 15–18°C), ensure the seal remains intact, and enjoy the best flavors within one to two years of opening.