Tequila doesn’t have the best reputation. It’s usually a precursor to a night of good times, but bad decisions. It’s the spirit of choice ordered enthusiastically at a bar and often selected at random, the burn lessened by salt and lime and the shot followed by shudders and shakes.
At a time when wine safaris and craft breweries have had their moment, tequila distilleries are having one now, too. This electrifying spirit is rich in history, a product of hard work and love. You should no longer be thinking about tequila as your wild, college roommate who frequents the bar scene and drags you along for the ride. No, tequila should be regarded like your grandmother, your abuela, your nanu—she has a wealth of knowledge to impart and she’ll take her time doing it. So, what’s the best way to enjoy this spirit? As authentically as possible.
CheapCaribbean, an online travel resource for beachy vacations and destination packages, recently launched the Te Amo Tequila Tour. With the masterful insight of agave expert and author of Understanding Mezcal Jay Schroeder, the itinerary was carefully curated to take enthusiasts on an unforgettable tasting experience through an agave farm, distilleries, and local stomping grounds in both Tequila and Puerto Vallarta. Here are seven incredible experiences you can have on this ultimate tequila tour.
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Tour One of Tequila’s Oldest Distilleries
Known exclusively as the “hometown of one of the world’s favorite spirits,” the drink was born in the town of Tequila located in Jalisco, Mexico. Surrounded by agave fields and blessed by the blazing sun, you can cool off with authentic mezcal straight from the barrel at one of Tequila’s oldest distilleries, Tequila Orendain. Although the business was officially founded in 1926, the Orendain family initially developed the concept in the 1800s. Almost 90 years later, the quality of their tequila is still outstanding, according to the “Agave Whisperer” himself, Jay Schroeder.
Go Horseback Riding Through La Cofradia’s Agave Fields
Founded more than 50 years ago, La Cofradia Distillery is surrounded by the agave landscape which you’ll get to tour on horseback. Although equestrian skills won’t be necessary, you will need comfortable clothes and sunscreen. Trot through the acres of the tall, manicured blue agave plants and learn about the plant that brings you both tequila and mezcal.
Speaking of mezcal, a lot of people don’t know the difference between the two. Schroeder explains that it boils down to production.
“Mezcal is rustic,” he says. “The easiest way to visualize this is that most mezcal is made in somebody’s backyard. It’s roasty, and due to wild fermentation, it’s super aromatic and complex.” Tequila, on the other hand, is more industrial. “Steam power, electricity, factories, assembly lines, automation, and international trade. That’s tequila. It was made as a type of product to emulate all the things about other spirits that were luxurious and saleable all around the world. Soft, smooth, round, sweet: these are the hallmarks of tequila as a spirit.”
Sleep in a Giant Tequila Barrel
Where would be the best place to sleep off the buzz from drinking tequila neat all afternoon? In a massive tequila barrel, of course. Matices Hotel de Barricas is the only hotel located within a tequila factory of La Cofradia, which is quite convenient. From the barrel-shaped accommodations to the barrel-shaped trash can, the tequila-themed touches offer a rustic yet lush experience—just like the spirit.
Pair Regional Cuisine With Tequila at the Jose Cuervo Resort
Taste the flavors of local and regional cuisine at the restaurant La Antigua Casona, nestled in Hotel Solar de las Animas, also known as the “Jose Cuervo resort,” as it’s operated by the brand and the only tequila served on site. Pair a shot or a margarita from their extensive list with any item on the menu. Don’t know where to start? Try the Smokey Margarita with Black Prawn Aguachile. A sprig of rosemary is burned and then gently placed as a garnish on the drink—the touch of spice from the aguachile works well with the smokiness from the margarita.
Try This Legendary Drink at a Local Dive Bar
What better way to immerse yourself in the regional food and drink than exploring the stomping grounds of the locals? Located on the outskirts of town, a pilgrimage to the legendary dive bar, La Capilla, is the home of an original concoction appreciated by agave aficionados worldwide. Created nearly 60 years ago by the owner and bartender, the popular tequila cocktail “The Batanga” mixes cola, tequila, lime, salt, and ice—a simple yet classic drink beloved by the many who pass through. (Just note that while both La Antigua Casona and La Capilla are excellent options, they’re not included on the official tour. So you’ll have to wander off on your own.)
Sample Tacos and Tequila on a Mex-Ology Tour
You’ll get insider knowledge of the best indigenous spirits and regional cocktails of Puerto Vallarta during the Mex-Ology tour. Plan on sampling tequila, mezcal, and raicilla—the moonshine version of mezcal—as well as plenty of tacos along the way.
“Tequila is the one with all the myths: It’s got a worm, it’ll give you a hangover, it’ll make you crazy,” said Schroeder. “Everything you’ve ever heard about tequila is a lie, except for all the good stuff.” But the lush body and sweet aroma of the tequila you’ll be tasting on this four-hour tour will be sure to erase all negative experiences.
Pamper Yourself at the Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta
After a day complete with tequila and a belly filled with tacos, lounge poolside at Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta, an all-inclusive resort situated in front of the glistening Pacific Ocean, is the *chef’s kiss* perfect way to recharge. If you don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your sun-soaked suite just yet, take advantage of the complimentary activities offered by the resort, including paddle boarding lessons on the beach, yoga lessons, beach volleyball, water polo, or Spanish practice with an instructor! Soak in the view from the infinity pool and have an iconic photo taken at the edge. After, grab a drink (yes, another!) at the swim-up bar because you’re on vacation and you deserve it.
Whether you prefer to enjoy tequila neat or opt for a tequila-based cocktail instead, you’ll leave the Te Amo Tequila Tour with a wealth of knowledge on the rustic, aromatic flavors of mezcal and the smooth, luxurious layers of tequila.