An Agave Lover's Guide To Tequila, Mexico


While tequila has cemented itself as an all-time top seller in the global spirits industry, its close relative mezcal has enjoyed skyrocketing popularity across the globe since the dawn of the 21st century—and for any hardcore agave aficionados hoping to learn more about the history of tequila, it’s best to pay a visit to where it all began. Roughly 400 years ago, the first large-scale agave distillery made its debut in the town of Tequila, and in the modern era, this vibrant community comes complete with luxurious hotels, a stellar food scene and—of course—more delicious distillate than you could possibly dream of.

The bulk of visitors to Tequila fly into Guadalajara International Airport to begin their journey, and after a ninety-minute drive into Tequila, you’ll surely be in need of some rest and relaxation—and fortunately, local hotel Casa Salles offers some of the most idyllic accommodations in all the town. Upon arrival, guests can marvel at the centuries-old mango trees that tower over the manicured courtyard and outdoor pool, while the on-property Reposado Spa offers multiple massage options for guests to enjoy. During morning hours, early risers can partake in a round of sunrise yoga or head to the nearby El Totole hill for a hiking session, but once dinner time rolls around, there’s no better spot to be than Mango Cocina de Origen. Specializing in classic Mexican cuisine, this charming lobby-adjacent restaurant is home to a wide array of ultra-flavorful options ranging from duck enmoladas to tlacoyo de picanha.

Of course, no agave lover’s trip to Tequila would be complete without partaking in a few copitas, and fortunately, Casa Salles shares a space with one of the town’s most prestigious operations. Founded in 1959, El Tequileño stands as a testament to the longstanding cultural significance of tequila, with multiple high-end expressions of the spirit available to sample. After a thorough tour of the production facility, visitors can sip on Platinum—an unaged agave distillate with sweet notes of anise—or snag a bottle of American oak-aged Reposado Rare to bring back home. Meanwhile, another local institution can be experienced on a Vive Bisabuelo tour with Tequila Fortaleza. Spanning roughly two and a half hours, this carefully-curated experience invites guests to stroll along the property’s picturesque agave fields, sample four unique tequilas in a natural cave, and toast to a successful trip with an order of fish tacos by Fortaleza’s private lake.

There’s no shortage of incredible sipping tequilas to sample across town, but this iconic spirit also performs beautifully in a cocktail—a fact that downtown institution La Capilla knows all too well. In business since the 1950s, this casual downtown spot has earned abundant acclaim as the birthplace of La Batanga, an ultra-refreshing blend of lime, salt, Mexican Coca Cola and tequila that’s stirred with a knife. After a taste of this local favorite, visitors can keep the party going with cocktails at nearby Catrina Cantina, but for a deep dive on non-agave-based local drinking culture, a pajarete is a must-try. Typically consumed in the early morning, this frothy blend of coffee, chocolate and sugarcane distillate is topped off with a few squirts of milk fresh from the cow’s udder, with local venue Pajaretes Contreras serving as a top spot for sampling the drink.

It’s no good to sip tequila on an empty stomach, so visitors should be sure to take advantage of the incredible restaurants scattered all throughout city limits. To kick off the day, El Palomar is home to a roster of classic Mexican breakfast dishes in the Tequila town center, with molletes, chilaquiles verdes and huevos rancheros all gracing the menu. Later in the day, taco aficionados can make their way to Restaurant El Fogón for a hearty serving of chorizo or carne asada, while anyone in need of a quick break from all the local Jalisco fare can swing by Tekiira Sushi Bar for a hearty Japanese-style meal.

From the shores of Baja California to the mangrove forests of the Yucatan, Mexico is rife with dazzling destinations that shine a spotlight on the national culture, and Tequila is no exception. While agave distillate takes center stage around here, this iconic city is also adorned with polished accommodations and a thriving food scene as an added bonus. Whether you’re a hardcore fan or a casual imbiber, the city of Tequila is certain to leave you with fond memories and—with any luck—a new favorite bottle to take back home.



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