Agaverobottlethumb.jpgIt’s about 1:15 in the morning and your friend who is swaying like wind chimes during a tropical depression, yells a little too enthusiastically, “Tequila shots!” Flashbacks of that vile alcohol in the handle, labeled tequila, quickly flood your memory. No way. You’ll stick to your Bombay martini, thank you very much.

But, like any spirit you thought was crap in college, you’ve discovered that there is a premium version that is more palatable, smooth and in many cases delicious. The trend in spirits is trading-up, and as Eric Asimov of the New York Times pointed out, tequila is no different. In fact, with premium 100% blue agave options available at many bars, you might want to consider taking that shot, but sip slowly and of course, hold the lime.

The undisputed leader in the premium tequila category is Patron, representing around 70% of this segment. Their line of spirits is fairly wide, offering silver (youngest), anejo (oldest) and resposado (in the middle) tequilas. But with success comes competition, and with considerable growth in the category – 5% a year since 2001 according to Euromonitor International – there are many premium brands vying to get their share.

Some of the tequilas that were big hits with the New York Times Tasting Panel were the El Tesoro de Don Felipe, the Herradura and Corazon. Our favorite among the bunch is the Herradura which is mellow and goes down just a touch too easily. But one tequila they have left off the list, perhaps because it has a little extra kick to it, is Agavero ($30) – but you might not want to miss this one.

Extra kick? Let me explain. What makes it unique is that essence of the Damiana flower is blended into the tequila. The Damiana flower is an aphrodisiac used centuries ago by the Mayans in Mexico. They would smoke it or seep it into boiling water and wait for its special aphrodisiacal powers to kick in. So what does this really add to the tequila? There is a slight sweetness to it, with honey, herbal and floral notes. This sweetness adds smoothness to the tequila but also makes it a great choice for margaritas. Because there is already a sweet touch, you can save your Cointreau for your sidecar, and just add some fresh lime juice (recipe below).

As for the aphrodisiac qualities, that’s up for debate, but after a few glasses everybody looked a little more attractive.

The Lovers Margarita
1 oz Agavero tequila
1oz 1800 Resposado tequila
Splash of fresh lime juice (fresh makes the difference, don’t substitute here)
Wedge of lime