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A Shot of Tequila

What once was the drink of the poor Mexican farmer is now produced en masse and enjoyed internationally, with countless varieties crowding shelves across the world. Unfortunately, lower-quality brands make up the bulk of exports, so if the thought of sipping this heady liquor turns your stomach, take some time to seek out some of a higher quality while you're in Los Cabos.

Tequila must contain at least 51% blue agave, a plant related to the lily. The best tequilas are 100% blue agave. Liquid is distilled from the sap of 7- to 10-year-old plants and fermented. If you buy tequila with a worm, it was probably bottled in the United States, and is likely not a good-quality tequila.

Most of the good stuff is made in the town of Tequila, near Guadalajara. Labels bearing reposado indicate up to a year of aging; añejo, from one to three years. The longer tequila ages, the smoother it tastes.

Getting in your fill of taste-testing is an easy thing to do in Los Cabos, because every bar will have at least a couple of bottles on the shelves, but you should visit at least one establishment that specializes in the good stuff. There are a number of locations in Los Cabos to do so: Pancho's Restaurant & Tequila Bar comes to mind, as does the Tequila & Ceviche Bar at the posh Las Ventanas al Paraíso Resort.

Pancho's might as well be a tequila museum. Hundreds of tequilas are available for tasting, and many of the colorfully named brands up on the shelves are no longer manufactured. Schedule a private tasting, at $50 per person, with Bernard Corriveau, the official "Tequila Ambassador" of Mexico, who will teach you a bit about the history, production process, and art of this complex liquor. Corriveau, appointed a "Maestro Tequilero," by the Consejo Regalador de Tequila (loosely, the industry's Tequila Board), just might be the most knowledgeable person on tequila in Los Cabos. Pancho's holds group tequila tastings in English each Tuesday night at 7 pm.

Only guests at the fantastic Las Ventanas al Paraíso Resort on the Corridor can enjoy the small, intimate Tequila & Ceviche Bar set off from its lobby. The resort's "Tequileros" conduct the lessons for several guests (a maximum of 10) where you'll learn the history, classifications, distillation process, and different types of tequila along with the appropriate way to drink it. Take note, you won't be "shooting," or tossing down these shots. Of the 95 different varieties available for sampling, some are affordable, while others—the Chinaco Emperador, aged 10 years and $180 per shot—are literally liquid gold. Other favorites include the Don Julio Real, $75 per shot; the Don Tacho Grand Reserva, $60; the Gran Centanario Reserva, $50; and the Reserva de la Familia, $35. The tequilas are served with ceviche, guacamole, baked pita crisps, and tortillas. Classes are held on Tuesday and Friday at 5 pm, at a cost of $75 per person.

Another simple, fun, and free experience is in San José del Cabo at the Antigua Los Cabos Museum and Store, located on the zócalo, town square. Here you can sample various tequilas and other interesting liquors (and even get a bit tipsy) free of charge.

Updated: 08-2013

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