This post was originally posted by TheHipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on April 20, 2016.
Tequila may be the most mysterious and misunderstood elixir out there, but sometimes that mystery comes with an undeserved reputation. But true tequila is a drink with depth and flavor, and we thought we’d give Tequila the props it deserves. With National Tequila Day approaching in July, these spots will be sure to have their best snifters out.
1. Jalisco, Mexico
We would be remiss if we didn’t start our journey with the birthplace of tequila, where they have a PDO to make it exclusively. (If you don’t see Hecho en Mexico written somewhere on that bottle, it’s not what you think.) Tequila is made from the heart of the blue agave plant (not the cactus) which grows naturally in Mexico. Mexico produces five types of tequila: Blanco, Gold, Reposado, Anejo, and Anejo Gold. Interested in sampling a varietal of all? Make your way over to the Tequila Trail.
Located 350 miles west of Mexico City in Jalisco, the Tequila Trail is like Sonoma for tequila lovers. Whether your interests lie in enjoying the scenic trail, tasting a bouquet of tequilas, or seeing the hard work and artistry that goes into making tequila, this trail has a bit of everything.
Hop aboard the Tequila Express train, which starts in Guadalajara and ends in Amatitan, with many inebriating stops along the way. The ride costs $90 per person, and provides live mariachi music, snacks, tequila tastings, and guided tours through the blue agave fields, along with a sober driver. It only runs on weekends, so be sure to book ahead.
The city that’s known for an excess of everything makes no exceptions when it comes to great tequila bars. Located in midtown, in a dark and candlelit basement, La Biblioteca offers over 400 varietals of the blue-agave nectar, alongside other favorites like mezcal and sangrita. The dark and deep bar is lined with long oak tables and leather books, some of which contain highly-coveted tequila making methods. We recommend reading some before your fourth snifter.
If the wild Lower East Side is more your scene, duck down to Los Feliz, another tequila bar and restaurant hiding underground. The marble tables, large mural, and pink cobble stones guide the way to two secret staircases that lead customers into an inner sanctum of rustic tequila options and authentic Mexican snacks. Don’t let the dim lighting deter you: Los Feliz has an extensive tequila list and an array of unique drinks to satiate the most adventurous tequila scholars out there.
LA’s sprawling city is filled with great Mexican food and drinks, so we’ve narrowed it down to our two favorite tequila spots. Stepping into El Carmen, you might think you’ve instead arrived at a tiny Mexican wrestling altar, but this luchador-themed restaurant is quite packed with first-class tequila and snacks. Their 10 page tequila menu offers something for every taste bud and they have arguably the best guacamole and salsa in west LA. If you’re feeling brave, dive into the tequila-infused shrimp or the famous jalapeno margarita.
Named for the foam that appears after a well-shaken mezcal, Las Perlas is a stylish Skid Row bar with colorful decor and a strikingly obscure list of tequilas and mezcals. There’s an outdoor patio, a pool table, and sometimes a live band to help flavor the evening. The tacos and taquitos are a favorite here, and the Monday happy hour runs all day.
Sometimes the only cure for hot weather is the soothing fire of a rare tequila slipping down your throat. At TeQuiztlan, the tequila list expands 200 varietals and offers premium flights of 3 at a time, alongside savory Mexican cuisine. Located right on the beach, TeQuiztlan is a modern space with a casual flare, serving their margaritas on tables built from retired pesos and old movie flyers. The name means “land of tequila” and does not disappoint.
Named after an Aztec myth about an army of bunnies that spread the good word of intoxication around town, 400 Rabbits is a dark, leather-studded bar adjacent to the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater. Their drink list is expansive, their food is excellent, and the whole menu is available at the theater next door. Nothing says leisure like a tequila and a movie. Salud!