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The World's Best Guide to Buying Tequila That Doesn't Suck

Categories: Five Great...
bienvenidoatequila.jpg
Dave Lieberman
I'm a liquor store yenta. That's right; if I see you picking up one of those neon green bottles of margarita mix, or God forbid the bilious-looking piss-yellow bottle with the Cuervo garbage already mixed in, I will come over and strike up and awkward conversation in which I try to convince you to buy something better, because that stuff is a one-way ticket to a hangover.

See also:
- Five Ways to Tell a Great Tequila Bar From a Mediocre One
- Leyva's Liquors: Always,
Always Your Last Stop Before Heading for the Border
- Four Reasons Why Patrón Tequila Is an Affront to Mexicans--And One Reason Why It's Not


The best is seeing people with a cart full of $35 vodka and $40 whiskey looking at José Cuervo Gold. Why not spend $3 more and get something better? Did that Tracy Byrd song ("I went ten rounds with José Cuervo-o-o...") really have such an impact on you?

And another thing... why are you spending so much money on sipping tequila? Is it the Cristal effect, where the Don Julio and Patrón brands are the "cool" brands, so it's worth paying $50 for a fifth of tequila that half the bars in America serve ice cold anyway?

It's a nationwide epidemic, this affinity for bad or overpriced tequila, and it's time for it to stop. Read on for my opinionated, completely unbiased opinion after two decades drinking tequila here and in Mexico. Don't like it? Tell me what a pendejo I am in the comments--but show your work and leave your own suggestions!


1. If it comes in a pretty or interesting bottle, it's generally mediocre

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Dave Lieberman
The Valley of Tequila, Jalisco

If you're thinking about buying of those fugly glass monstrosities in the shape of a gun, a cactus, a woman with enormous breasts, or whatever, just stop. Go buy a bottle of La Cofradia tequila instead, because it's cheaper and it's the same tequila--they all come from La Cofradia. One of the best tequilas for mixed drinks, Tequila Tapatío, comes in a plain bottle that could just as easily have housed rum, Scotch, or wine. My house tequila, Volcán de Mi Tierra, comes in a similarly plain bottle. Cuánto más se ve fresa, menos me interesa. The fancier it looks, the less it interests me.

2. If it's "created by" or linked to a celebrity, it may be good, but it's almost certainly overpriced. It may also be rascuache--crap

"There are huge advertising budgets only when there's no difference between the products. If the products really were different, people would buy the one that's better. Advertising teaches people not to trust their judgment. Advertising teaches people to be stupid." --Carl Sagan, Contact

Cabo Wabo tequila is massively popular because Sammy Hagar is affiliated with it, not because it's any good; Xzibit flogs Tequila Bonita, which every Spanish speaker knows is bogus, because it should be Tequila Bonito (it's el tequila). And then there's Daddy Yankee, who wins the Pendejo Tequilero award for lending his name to a tequila called El Cartel, made by the same distillery as the overpriced Avión. Celebrities are famous for not having any taste--have you seen Keeping Up With the Kardashians?--and so choosing your tequila based on who flogs it is just idiotic.


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13 comments
clivegains
clivegains

What is like El Gran Jubileo Blanco? I'm thinking getting Ocho Blanco or Aha Toro Blanco.

grvz5247
grvz5247

Camarena is the best Tequila.

dakanaka
dakanaka

Plain bottles don't always make the tequila, any more than pricing does. There's a relatively new tequila (repo only) in the Southern Calif market called Apocalypto, and it comes in a ceramic bottle shaped like a Mayan "half-man/half-jaguar". It beat out about 100 other repos to win BEST IN CLASS at the 2012 SIP competition; and won double-Gold at the 2012 Spirits of Mexico. It's incredibly good, and in the low $40's at Hi Time Wine Cellars. Oh, and it's from NOM 1438 ( I do my homework). Just goes to show...you can't always tell a tequila by it's cover...

Oh, and I agree with you about La Fortaleza....it's exquisite.... 

Kit Hope
Kit Hope

I've always been partial to Herradura.

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

Milagro Tequila is another example of a fancy, expensive bottle with just average tequila.  

I nearly died when Carlos lent his name to Casa Noble.  Celebrity endorsements are the kiss of death.

So Dave, tell me...what is the best anejo that has been aged in new, French oak barrels and costs less than, say, $65/bottle?  (Casa Noble is around $75 on sale so I need a cheaper backup brand.)

David Rios
David Rios

Cazadores is crap after Bacardi bought it 10 years ago. The original cazadores is now called Hacienda Vieja good stuff@ only $18 a bottle. Visit High times in Costa Mesa for an aray of good ass tequila. Selection arte 1146 is a great tequila and not to pricey

americanlender12
americanlender12

Well it seems that you are far from being able to tell the difference of good and bad tequilas'. Cazadores is junk, all of it. It was purchased by Bacardi over 10 years ago, and obviously its not the same formula. If you enjoyed the old formula, grab yourself a bottle of Hacienda Vieja; $18 a bottle@ El Toro liquor in Santa Ana, its not bad at all. But if you really a tequila enthusiasts look for the NOM numbers on the bottle, that tells you what tequilery

-paulc-
-paulc-

Corralejo is my favorite over all "big brand."  Their reposado is pretty good if you shake it in ice and pour.  Its a bit harsh straight up.  

extramsg
extramsg

@20ftjesus milagro is relatively cheap at under $30 per bottle.  It's one of the better values out there.

Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

@20ftjesus Ocho. Or Arette, though only half the barrels are French.

Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

@americanlender12 You obviously live here; we're spoiled for choice here. When your choices are mixtos, overpriced nonsense like Don Julio, and things like Cien Años, Cazadores is a fine choice. Is it Chinaco, Arette, etc.? No. But those brands aren't distributed nationally

You make a good point about the NOM number though. .

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