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Tequila!

You know it. You love it. You probably have had a night or two full of regret thanks to it. Tequila has a special place in the hearts of many. Face it, you never hear someone talk about how much they love vodka. OK, maybe you do. In college. In Jungle juice. Is that what was in that stuff? Who knows… 

Tequila has gotten some big ups form the paleo community. It all started, IMHO, with Robb Wolf and the Nor Cal Margarita. Simple lime juice, tequila, and club soda. Personally, it’s what I often go to when I’m out. Why all the fuss though? What’s so special about tequila? 

Before we get into it, I need to make one thing painfully clear:

No type of alcohol is ‘healthy’.

No alcoholic drink is a ‘healthy‘ drink.

Just like there’s no such thing as healthy cookies, brownies, or pizza, there’s no such thing as healthy alcohol. That being said, there ARE ways to minimize the negative effects of the occasional boozing. One of them, the major one, is living an otherwise healthy lifestyle. Eating nourishing, whole foods. Exercising regularly. Having a social life. Going outside. Staying well hydrated. Minimizing your toxic load. All of these things help your body when things like alcohol DO come into play. You can absolutely have alcohol be a part of your healthy lifestyle, but it ITSELF is NOT healthy. Why am I getting so twisted up about this? Because that word, in my opinion, means something. ‘Healthy’ doesn’t mean ‘Not terrible for you’. It means something that is ADDING to your health. Now, while a few cocktails here and there may add to my mental well being and overall life emjoyment which, in turn, adds to my overall health, it is inherently not healthy.

“But Kristin, if it’s so bad, why are you posting recipes?!”

Because I like them. I drink them. I do so knowing it’s not healthy. I’m not saying you should never drink or that you should feel guilty about it. Like, at all. I’m saying let’s stop trying to fool ourselves into ‘healthy’ alcohol, and just say, “I live a health focused lifestyle and sometimes I drink.” Aint nothin wrong with that, girl! Moving on.

Just like food, there’s shitty booze and there’s the good stuff. When it comes to tequila, we’re talking about 100% agave (more on that in a bit). We’re also talking about mixers. Minimal added sugar, fresh squeezed juices, and herbs can all be used to create amazing cocktails without all of the additives of store-bought mixers. Usually full of corn syrup, food coloring, and god knows what else to allow it to sit on a lonely shelf in a neon-light-filled grocery store until the end of days. Why do those buckets of margaritas make you feel like shit? Because it’s full of cheap-ass tequila and artificially-flavored, sugar-loaded sour mix. Leave these behind. For good. You spend all this time finding the perfect ghee…why are you buying shitty mixers?

OK back to tequila.

What is it, anyway?

Tequila is only tequila if it is made from 51%+ from the blue Weber Agave plant. The plant thing is why people in the paleo world are so high on it. It’s not distilled from a grain. That 51% is the important thing to remember. Tequila, any tequila, can have up to 49% of other sugars as its base. Grain alcohol, whatever. Whatever other sugars the producer wants to use. 100% Blue Agave Tequila is just that: made exclusively with blue agave sugars. Now, with tequilas like Patron (which many believe to be a high quality sprit), they’re actually using lots of leftover agave plants from all over the place in order to produce large quantities. That’s your call if you want to buy it. Thing is, there’s lots of smaller batch, great tequilas out there that are using the best of the best. Personally, I love Tequila Ocho. Tequila Ocho treats tequila like wine. Using one farm per harvest to create a unique tequila that will have characteristics specific to that harvest. Much like wine from one vineyard has what’s called terroir: characteristics unique to things harvested from an area due to soil, air, water, etc.

From tequila we have some varieties: Blanco, Reposado, and Anjeo. Here’s the cheatsheet:

Blanco: (Silver/White/Plata) Clear and aged for no longer than 60 days. Somewhat harsher in flavor as it is directly from the still and basically un-aged. Commonly used in margaritas. 

Reposado: Reposado actually means ‘rested’, which is exactly what this is. The tequila is aged in wood (commonly oak) for a minimum of two months up to 12 months. The alcohol mellows a bit, and the tequila takes on some of the flavors of the wood it was aged in, which varies. It also takes on a golden hue from this process.  

Anejo: Aged for at least one year and up to three (over three years gets you into ‘Extra Anejo’ territory). Typically smoother, richer, more complex and amber in color. A great sipping variety, but I love using it in cocktails.

So, you’ve had your crash course. Time to make a drink. Hot tip for tequila cocktails: Tequila + lime + any citrus fruit = a good drink. Add an herb or some bitters and you’ll look like a rock star. That’s basically the formula I used here.

The Triple M
Serves 2
A refreshing, bright cocktail perfect for summer.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 oz reposado 100% blue agave tequila
  2. 2 oz fresh lime juice
  3. 2 oz fresh mandarin juice
  4. 4 mint leaves, plus 2 for garnish
  5. Citrus bitters
Instructions
  1. Put a handful of ice cubes into a cocktail shaker (you can seriously use a protein shaker bottle, too).
  2. Add the tequila, juices, and mint leaves.
  3. Put the top of the shaker on and SHAKE it for 20 seconds.
  4. Fill two cocktail glasses with ice.
  5. Strain from the shaker and fill each glass.
  6. Add a few drops of bitters to each.
  7. Hold a mint leave in the palm of your hand and smack it with your other (basically clap with the mint in your hand - this opens it up without breaking it apart too much) and play in the glasses.
  8. Drink.
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