The new year often inspires a slew of detox drinks as an antidote for excessive holiday festivities. But while starting out fresh is all well and good, we’d like to propose an alternate kickoff libation: tequila! Rather than tossing back shots of the cheap stuff, however, we suggest a more suave agave—in the form of high-end sipping tequila, available at Seattle’s growing number of tequila bars. Take, for example, The Matador (matadorrestaurants.com) in Ballard, which offers an Extra Añejo flight: three 1-ounce pours of Herradura Seleccion Suprema, Don Julio Real and Gran Patrón Burdeos for $120 (a bargain considering that ordered separately, the three shots would run you $245). Bartender Rick McCallum says superior-caliber blue agave plants are used to make these tequilas—and the flavor shines through. For those feeling optimistic about 2011, The Matador is the only bar in the state to serve Jose Cuervo 250 Aniversario—a limited-edition tequila (only 545 bottles were made) that goes for $300 per shot. See page 24 for more recommendations from local bartenders.
We continue our hard-hitting investigation of top-shelf tequila with advice from four more bartenders at local tequila temples. Pick your poison and savor the flavor.
Casa Noble Reposado
$10.25 per shot
Made from organically grown agave plants, this tequila’s wonders prompted Bandolero owner Jay Farias to declare it “the most amazing tequila I’ve ever had.” Landing between a reposado (aged) and an añejo (extra aged) in maturation, this tequila has, as Farias describes it, “an incredible amount of cinnamon- and vanilla-type flavors right up front, with a great, warm finish.”
Don Julio 1942
$30 per shot
Manager Cameron Williams describes this tequila—a big favorite at the bar—as having “really nice vanilla notes, almost nearing a tequila dessert” and being “rich, cognac-like.” He gives this choice añejo from the Mexican highlands extra points for being a welcome “balance between high end and budget friendly.”
$15 per shot
While the smoky and spicy flavors of aged variations have their allure, sometimes the refreshing sensation of a blanco (unaged) tequila hits the spot. Bartender Christian Taylor loves this one because “you can really taste the agave” and for the “clean, incredibly smooth” experience. This purist version offers zero resistance as it goes down and, according to Taylor, “tastes like honey.”
Aha Toro flight
$17.50 (three 1-ounce pours)
Manager Dan Olsby recommends Peso’s tequila flights, which he rotates periodically so customers can expand their palates. This flight offers the silver, reposado and añejo varieties of the Mexican brand, giving a wide spectrum of tastes that will inform your preferences. No matter what type you enjoy, Olsby advises, “Ultimately, you definitely want to drink tequila.”