Did you know that Mexico’s pride and joy is tequila? This tantalizing liquor that has won the hearts of so many people all across the world was first produced in the 16th century near the city of Tequila, Jalisco. However, a fermented beverage known as pulque was derived from the agave plant as far back as pre-Columbian times in central Mexico centuries before European contact. Read below to learn more about the history of tequila, Mexico’s pride and joy.
The Origins of Tequila
It’s origins can be traced back as far as 1000 B.C. TO 200 A.D. when the Aztecs in Mexico began fermenting the agave plant into a substance known as pulque. Pulque was an alcoholic milky liquid created by using agave sap and was very important in Aztec culture. In fact, they worshipped two gods that were known for their relationship to pulque. The first Aztec God was Mayahuel, who was the goddess of the maguey plant, and the second was her husband Patecatl, the god of pulque.
The first evidence of the existence of pulque appeared on stone walls around 200 A.D., but the drink didn’t transform into the tequila we know today until the Spanish invaded Mexico many centuries later.
The Spanish Influence on Mezcal and Tequila
In the 1400s and 1500s, the arrival of Spanish conquistadors to Mexico coincided with a change in the fermentation process used to create pulque. At that time, the drink of choice for Spanish invaders was brandy which was hard to come by in North America. As a result, they improvised using the agave plant and mud and subsequently created mezcal that is similar to mezcal that we enjoy today. In fact, did you know that all tequilas are technically mezcals?
In the mid-1500s, the Spanish government opened a regular trade route between Manila and Mexico which permitted the trade of alcohol including mezcal. Later, in the early 1600s, the first large scale distillery in Mexico was constructed in Tequila, Jalisco by Spain’s Marquis of Altamira.
The Birth of Modern Tequila in the 1700’s
The transformation from rustic mezcal to modern tequila that we know today occurred in 1758 when the Cuervo family began commercially distilling this liquor in Mexico.
More than a hundred years later, the Sauza family also began large scale production of tequila in 1873. In fact, some people believe that Cenobio Sauza was the individual who successfully identified the blue agave plant which is best suited for producing high-quality tequila.
Around 50 years later, the first margarita cocktail was created near Tijuana, Mexico. During Prohibition, Americans would travel down to Mexico in order to get their hands on alcohol that was illegal in the US at that time. In fact, there were more than one hundred bars in Tijuana in the 1920s that were frequented by Americans crossing the border to get their boozy fix.
In 1936, alcohol became legal once again in the United States and the popularity of bars in Tequila died down. However, during a vacation with his wife to Mexico, American journalist James Graham ended up in a Tijuana bar operated by an Irishman named Madden, who was known to make a cocktail called the Tequila Daisy (margarita in Spanish means daisy). While Madden said the creation of the drink was a lucky mistake, it quickly became one of the most popular cocktails in the U.S. and around the world. A recipe for a margarita first appeared in 1953 in Esquire magazine, which further increased the popularity of the delicious cocktail to readers in the US and around the world.
Intellectual Property of Mexico
In 1974, the Mexican government officially declared tequila intellectual property of the country. By doing so, this ensured that this brea is only made and aged in certain areas in Mexico. As a result, it became illegal for other countries to produce or sell their own tequila. Mexican laws state that this beverage can only be produced in the state of Jalisco, and in limited municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas.
A Tequila Regulatory Council was created to help ensure the quality of this liquor produced in Mexico, and to help promote the culture surrounding the spirit in Mexico and around the world. Today, tequila is a regional distilled alcoholic beverage made from the blue agave plant, that is primarily produced in Tequila, Jalisco and in the Jaliscan Highlands known as Los Altos de Jalisco in the western part of the state.
Aside from differences in the region of origin, tequila is a type of mezcal and there is overlap in the regions where the production of mezcal and tequila takes place. The difference is that tequila must only use blue agave plants, as opposed to other types of agave that can be used to create mezcal.
At Garza Blanca, there are a wide variety of premium tequilas at onsite restaurants and bars for you to sip and savor. If you’d like, you can even schedule a special tequila tasting experience at Garza Blanca when you can learn more about tequila, and taste some of the best tequilas in Mexico. Want more information on how you can become a tequila connoisseur? Contact the Garza Blanca front desk concierge today, and they will assist you in scheduling a private tequila tasting session for you.