Five Ways To Tell A Great Tequila Bar From a Mediocre One

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3. Their well tequila is 100 percent agave.

Tequila mixto is an abomination, something so cheap and tawdry that the one time I tried to buy some in a Mexican supermarket, the cashier begged me to buy a 100 percent agave tequila that was only 10 pesos (less than a dollar) more. If the shelves are lined with fancy bottles but the margaritas are being made with Sauza Gold, be very careful about ordering.

2. They have more than just national brands.

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Anyone can open a bar and stock it with national and large regional brands; a serious tequila bar procures the stuff that's harder to find. 1800, Cabo Wabo, Don Julio, Hornitos, Patrón, Tres Generaciones--they're nationally distributed and they're not particularly special. Believe it or not, there's more--much more--to tequila. Start with Cazadores at least, and Arette, and Fortaleza, and when you see brands not available in the United States like Volcán de Mi Tierra and (until recently) Tapatío, you'll know you're in the right place.

1. They serve sangrita, not lime and salt.

If you go to Jalisco, the heart of tequila country, you will never get a wedge of lime and a dish of salt with your trago of tequila--no, not even for the cheap stuff. If you need a chaser, the Mexican way to do it is with sangrita, a dark red, sweet-sour-spicy mix of juices and seasonings. Incidentally, that's sangrita with a T ("little blood"), not sangria, the foofy wine and fruit drink.

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