by Laura Studarus
That hitchhiker in your tequila bottle – it's not actually a worm.
That worm-like critter is actually the larvae of the agave weevil or agave red worm moth.
A scene in "Urban Cowboy" that stated, "The Mexicans say if you eat the worm, you're gonna see visions," spawned a popular urban legend that eating these larvae will make you hallucinate. Not true.
The larvae disguised as worms –rumored to alter the taste of the spirit and even have magic powers – were really just glorified name tags for tequila.
Mezcal and tequila are both distilled from the same source: the agave. And while tequila is technically mezcal, it can only be brewed from blue agave.
Plantations that would grow multiple forms of agave would end up with bottles of visually interchangeable light-colored liquid.
To limit confusion, ranchers would pluck the bugs from dead or dying agave plants and place them in bottles of mezcal.
So why is there still a worm in my tequila?
Marketing. In the 1940s, Nacional Vinicola was the first company to add the attention-grabbing creepy-crawler to their tequila bottles.
Jorge Torres, sommelier at the Fairmont Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen