We return to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival for our last special event of the year. I have wanted to attend the Mexican Tequila Lunch ever since I found out that was a thing. I love tequila, and have a decent selection on my bar at home.
The only reason it took this long to attend this event is that I don’t know anybody else that loves tequila. Kim totally hates it. So I decided that we would attend, and I would have to suffer and drink tequila for two!
The Mexican Tequila Lunch is held at La Hacienda de San Angel. The event was scheduled for 12:00 PM. And they really mean 12:00. They didn’t remove the rope blocking access to the restaurant until 12. We weren’t even allowed to sit on the benches outside. Promptly at 12, they removed the rope and escorted us inside. Once inside, you gave your name and were escorted to a table. Just like the French Family Traditions Lunch, you were assigned a table, but not a particular seat at the table.
They had the various tequilas that we were going to be served displayed on a table in the back. Ignore the bottle of Jose Cuervo. It was used as an example of what NOT to drink.
On our way in, we were handed our welcome margarita. It was an Ancho Chile Smokey Margarita, and it wasn’t made with tequila at all. It was made with Mezcal, a sort of cousin to tequila. It also had a spicy ancho chile liqueur. The drink was quite spicy, and very delicious.
Our tequila pours were waiting for us at our table, along with some vodka that would be used as a palate cleanser.
There were also some items that would be used for their aroma, similar to what would be done at a wine tasting. Each tequila (and mezcal) had an item paired with it to help unlock their aroma and flavor.
Once everybody was seated, we were introduced to Hilda Castillo, who has the enviable job of Tequila Ambassador.
Hilda was a wonderful host. She was funny and well spoken. She introduced each tequila and food pairing, as well as providing information on how tequila and mezcal are made. At one point in the event, she asked for somebody to name the five different types of tequila. I quickly raised my hand and was asked to come up front. My reward was to eat a grasshopper in front of everybody. It was fried and seasoned, and actually tasted really good!
Funnily enough, I never even had to name the different types of tequila. I was actually quite disappointed, as I never pass up an opportunity to show off my knowledge of tequila! So allow me to do so here.
There are five different types of proper tequila. They are grouped by age. Some tequilas aren’t aged at all, while some are aged for 3+ years, often moving from one type of barrel to another. The five types are:
Tequila Blanco (also known as silver or platinum) – If you want to know what Blue Agave (the plant used to make tequila) tastes like, this is the tequila for you. It’s completely clear, and typically never touches a barrel. So you get a more pure Blue Agave flavor. Occasionally blanco tequilas are aged for a couple of months, but anything more than that would move it to the next class, which is…
Tequila Reposado – Reposado tequilas are aged 2-11 months, usually in barrels. These barrels can be made from many different types of wood. Some tequilas are even aged in whiskey or wine barrels, which definitely changes the flavor of the tequila. Because of the barrels, these tequilas take on a pale golden color.
Tequila Añejo – Añejo tequilas are aged 1-3 years, usually in smaller barrels than reposado tequilas. They are usually amber in color, and typically have a more complex flavor than their younger counterparts.
Tequila Extra Añejo – Any tequila aged longer than 3 years falls into this category. Extra Añejo tequilas are typically quite dark, and are often indistinguishable in appearance from whiskey or bourbon. They are aged the same way as Añejo tequilas, just for a longer period of time. These tequilas often command a premium price.
Tequila Joven (also known as oro or gold) – Joven tequilas are a mix of two different ages, typically Blanco and Añejo. They still have to be made with 100% Blue Agave. Beware of any “gold” tequila that doesn’t explicitly state “100% Blue Agave” somewhere on the label. These are very low quality tequilas known as Mixtos. They are only required to be made with 51% Blue Agave. The other 49% can be comprised of food coloring, cane sugar, and various other ingredients. Jose Cuervo is a good example of a low quality gold tequila.
To complicate things even further, Mezcal is a very similar spirit to tequila. Every tequila technically qualifies as a Mezcal, but the vast majority of Mezcals don’t qualify as tequila. It comes down to what they are made from. Tequila must be made with Blue Agave and be produced in specific regions. Mezcal can be made with any type of Agave, and can be made anywhere in Mexico. Mezcal typically has a much smokier flavor than tequila.
Now back to our regularly scheduled review…
It was time to eat. We started off with a Lobster Mango Ceviche. The ceviche was piled on top of some very tender, fresh avocado. This dish was very fresh and delicious, and paired well with the plantain chip.
To go with the ceviche, we had an Ambhar Blanco Tequila. I was not familiar with this tequila, but quite liked it. We started by smelling the lime, which definitely unlocked the citrus notes of the tequila. It had a very clean, simple taste.
Our next course was a pork empanada. This was absolutely delicious, my favorite food item of the event. The pork, oaxaca cheese, and poblano flavors worked together extremely well.
Paired with the empanada we had an El Tesoro de Don Felipe Reposado Tequila. This was also my favorite tequila of the event. It was very, very smooth. We used the cinnamon to help bring the spice notes to the forefront.
Our main course was a filet mignon with yuca fries. This was a bit of a disappointment. It had a good flavor, but was very chewy. Filet can often usually be cut with a butter knife, but I had to put my steak knife to work to get through this. The fries were good, but maybe a bit overly crispy. The overall dish was fine, but nothing memorable.
The pairing for this was a Montelobos Espadin Mezcal. This is the same spirit that was used in our welcome margarita, and I absolutely loved it. Of all four pairings, this was absolutely my favorite. So smoky, so smooth. I will be purchasing a bottle of this for my bar.
Our final course was dessert. We were served a Mexican Chocolate Molten Lava Cake. I’m not a huge chocolate guy, but this was excellent. The citrus guava glaze was amazing, and the ancho salt really helped counter the ridiculously rich chocolate.
Paired with our dessert was a Hornitos Black Barrel Añejo Tequila. This was a disappointing choice for our Añejo tequila. It is made by Sauza, which makes pretty mediocre tequilas. This was by far the worst spirit of the event. It is supposed to have notes of vanilla and citrus, but none of that came through for me. It almost had a whiskey feel, which is not what I look for in a tequila.
Overall this was another wonderful event. Great hostess, mostly great spirits and food. We even had great table mates, which always improves events like these. There were three mild disappointments. The filet, the Hornitos tequila, and the fact they had bottles of Herradura Extra Añejo and Casa Dragones Joven sitting on the table, and we weren’t served any. Those are world class tequilas, and it was a bit of tease to have them out like that.
But those are nitpicks. I would not hesitate to attend this event again in the future. As an added bonus, we were allowed to take the Ancho Reyes glasses that our margaritas were served in home with us. Score!
After the event I chatted a bit with Hilda. It turns out we have the same favorite tequila! It’s the Don Julio 1942. If you want to add an exquisite tequila to your bar, you can’t go wrong with Don Julio 1942.