With the current surge of farm-to-table restaurants, people care about the food they consume, along with exactly where it came from.
That same sense of caution is now extending to the spirits industry. There is a lot to learn. Take the tequila industry. Unaware of the fact, many imbibers have adopted a false perception of what an authentic, unaltered tequila tastes like. As they have been enjoying this liquor over the years, sugary additives got into what was once a consistently pure and refined spirit. Which poses the question—Do you know if your favorite tequila is artificially flavored or colored?
Simply put, if you can’t detect the actual agave flavor, it means that most likely you have been drinking cheaply made tequila that you’re overpaying for.
Beau Du Bois, Bar and Spirits Creative Director at Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar, delved into the greedy economics, and pointed out a surprising fact regarding additive free tequila. Beau explains, “These added flavors are the reason you’re scratching your head on what real tequila tastes like. On top of that, those flavors are also used to lower the producers’ cost of production. Yet, the prices on shelves don’t reflect that lower production cost whatsoever. Believe it or not, It’s actually more expensive to make additive-free tequila. In fact, some of the highest-rated and award-winning tequilas are additive-free.”
Beau’s passion on the subject is not only conveyed by words, but through initiative as well. At Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar, he and his team are lifting and cleaning up the bar program, incorporating tons of additive-free tequila cocktails. Beginning its exploration with additive-free tequila, Puesto works closely with traditional tequila makers that do not use any artificial flavors, assuring guests they will receive the best of the best when they walk through their doors.
Stressing the importance of distinguishing real tequila from phony, Beau conceptualizes a scenario involving food. “What do you see when a guest at a restaurant that ordered the A5 Wagyu filet off the menu and is brought a frozen burger patty that’s been microwaved and topped with A1 sauce, just gobbling it down happily because they don’t know what A5 Wagyu beef is supposed to taste like? Additive-free tequila brands are working tirelessly to make this distinction known; you’ll see it on the bottles and on billboards before 2023.”
By now you’re probably wondering how exactly the additives change the products, so let’s dive into some specifics. Oak extract adds oak flavoring, glycerin adds texture and body, and caramel coloring adds a deeper brown color. All three create a false perception of tequila value through manipulated aesthetics and misleading aging durations. But the guiltiest culprit of them all is simple syrup. For it has the ability to mask any authentic traits present after distillation, replacing them with virtually any artificial flavor desired, like vanilla frosting for instance.
If you’re a self-proclaimed tequila enthusiast, shouldn’t you at least know what the real deal is supposed to taste like?