I consider myself a pretty savvy tequila drinker—after all, I did learn from the best (thanks dad). I got an early education and managed to avoid the requisite Jose Cuervo binge in college that’s resulted in a whole generation of young adults who gag at the slightest whiff of tequila. So obviously, I jumped at the chance to attend a tequila tasting at Sunda sponsored by Tres Generaciones tequila.
As a self-respecting native Arizonan, and Tucsonan specifically, I have a discerning taste for the stuff. Like a fine wine or scotch, good tequila has a unique and complex flavor profile that should be savored slowly. I know the basics of enjoying a good tequila, but even I learned some new tips and tricks.
Here’s the room before we started dancing on tables and hanging from the rafters in a tequila-induced frenzy. Just kidding—only functional, self-respecting drunks in this bunch.
Armando, or Mando as we like to call him, a national tequila ambassador from Tres Generaciones, was our host for the evening. Tequila neophytes, listen closely—there are a few things you should know about good tequila:
- Good tequila comes from 100% blue agave. This is true for all of my favorite tequilas—Don Julio and Oro Azul, specifically—not only Tres Generaciones.
- There are three types of tequila: Blanco (or Plata), Reposado and Anejo:
- Blanco is an un-aged, clear tequila and you will probably favor this type of tequila if you like gin or vodka.
- Resposado is aged in oak barrels for at least four months, no longer than 11. You may like this type if you like rum.
- Anejo is aged in oak barrels for at least 12 months. Being a whiskey drinker, this is my personal favorite.
- Tequila by law must be double-distilled, and some tequilas are triple-distilled, including Tres Generaciones. Some say triple distillation isn’t necessary, or that it takes away some of the agave flavor, but Mando made me a believer. After more than five shots I woke up without the slightest trace of a hangover.
We started the night with some cocktails, conversation and appetizers. Here was my personal favorite, the Pina Reposado:
Spicy Raw tuna with jalapeno on top of crispy rice. YUM.
Indo corn fritters, also fabulous.
We met some great people at the tasting—Melissa and Enrique from Factio (I loved them even more after we saw them hightail it to the sushi bar after a forgettable salad and beef entree. If you go to Sunda, skip anything from the land. I repeat: order the fish and sushi. They are WORLDS better.); Matt from Thrillist Chicago; Jennifer from Second City Soiree; and four lovely ladies from Oprah Radio and the Chicago Tribune whose names are escaping me …
Anyway, they served three courses, each with a different Tres Generaciones tequila. Before we began, we got a lesson on how to properly taste tequila from a very passionately animated Mando:
How to sip a tequila:
- Swirl the tequila to release the scent, part your mouth slightly, and inhale deeply (just don’t snort the tequila, because that would be really painful).
- Bring the glass up to your lips and let the tequila touch the tip of your tongue. This is where you taste sweetness, so you’ll get notes of agave first.
- Then take a small sip and let the tequila run down your tongue and around your entire mouth—don’t swallow immediately.
- Swallow only after the tequila has coated your entire mouth.
For those of you who are vomiting in your mouth at the thought of prolonging a tequila shot, I promise you, it’s smoother and much more enjoyable when consumed this way. But that’s assuming it’s a good tequila, so don’t try this with Jose Cuervo.
For our first course, we had the Southeastern Chop Chop Chicken with the Plata:
Again, very forgettable, but not completely inedible. At least it came with a shot of tequila.
Then the shaking beef wok, even more underwhelming than the salad.
Again, it didn’t hurt to have good tequila to wash it down with:
In a favorable twist of fate (for Dave and me, at least), the wonderful woman sitting next to me was a non-meat eater and had a gluten allergy, so she was unable to eat her fish dish (it had soy in it, which apparently contains gluten). I honestly felt awful for her, but how could I resist when she shoved the plate our way?? I mean, if you’re gonna twist my arm about it …
This was the most delicious cod I have ever had in my life. It just melts in your mouth. I’m still salivating over it. Amazing how a restaurant that serves this could also serve the Benihana-style mediocrity that was the salad and beef. OK, I’ll stop bashing Sunda—as I said, they deserve major praise for the fish and sushi. Go there for that. Also, the dessert, avocado mousse with lychee shave ice and avocado coulis wasn’t bad at all:
All in all, a fun time. As always, Dave and I were the first to show up and the last to leave. You can count on that when tequila’s involved.