Whether you're a newbie or connoisseur, there's no better place in Mexico City to sip tequila than El Bar, located in the Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F. (short for Distrito Federal meaning Mexico's capital city). Over 120 bottles of tequila line the center tables in the late afternoon and evening, waiting to be poured.
Tequila and mezcal at El Bar — Photo courtesy of Katie Dillon
I know nothing about tequila. Help!
The folks at El Bar will give you all the information you need, but here's a quick primer. By law, tequila can be produced only in the state of Jalisco and in limited parts of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Tequila is bottled, usually, in these five categories:
Blanco (white or silver): Blanco is bottled quickly after distillation and aged less than two months in neutral or stainless steel barrels.
Joven (young or gold): Young tequilas are a mix of blanco and reposado tequilas that sometimes have a caramel additive to take off the edge. Jose Cuervo Gold is a joven tequila.
Reposado (rested): Aged between two months and a year in oak barrels.
Añejo (aged or vintage): Aged in small oak barrels between one and three years.
Extra añejo (extra-aged or ultra-aged): Aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years.
When we asked which style of bottling was the most popular at El Bar, the answer was none of the above. Everyone has preferences and orders vary across the board.
Tequila vs mezcal
Though tequila is a descendant of mezcal, many confuse the two. Both are derived from the agave plant, but tequila is made from only agave tequilana or blue agave. Mezcal can be sourced from five different varieties of agave.
In both cases, the heart of the agave plant or piña is removed. Mezcal's smoky flavor results from baking the piña in an underground, rock-lined pit filled with burning charcoal or wood. Tequila piñas are baked or steamed in above-ground ovens. Mezcal is usually distilled once while tequila can be double or triple distilled, but both have about the same amount of alcohol.
What about the worm? Well, the worm seen inside certain mezcal bottles is nothing but a marketing gimmick to try to boost sales. El Bar serves a variety of mezcals, as well.
How to drink tequila
Tequila tasting set at El Bar — Photo courtesy of Katie Dillon
Forget the salt, down-in-one, lime chaser strategy. Like a fine wine or scotch, more and more people are turning to tequila for savoring over storytelling in the presence of good company. El Bar provides the option to order special tasting sets. For example, compare three of your favorite blanco tequilas or order up a blanco, reposado and anejo to decide which bottling you prefer.
Tequila is traditionally served in a tall, cylindrical glass with a weighted bottom. El Bar provides sabrita, a mixture of tomato, citrus juice and seasoning, and a lime to cleanse your palate between sips.
Forget you're in a big city
No, not because of the tequila. Mexico City is one of the world's largest cities, but after setting foot inside El Bar, all signs of traffic and chaos disappear. The Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F. is right next to Chapultepec Park, however, the hotel's interior courtyard is stunning--complete with statues, gorgeous landscaping, a fountain and El Bar's patio.
El Bar is the perfect place to sip tequila, tell stories and end the day. We approve.