One of the most recent new drinks in Nepal has long been one of the most popular in the West.  Almost every drinker in North America (and South America and Europe, as well) is familiar with Tequila, typically downed in one shot with friends, usually with Jimmy Buffet playing in the background.  Here’s a brief guide to enjoying the most famous export from our great neighbors in Mexico (no offense to the avocado).

What is that magical elixir?

Tequila is actually a type of mezcal, or alcohol, made from the agave plant. However, tequila is made specifically from the blue agave plant, and must come from the Mexican state of Jalisco (or from certain municipalities in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nayarit, Michoacan, and Guanajuato). The heart of the agave is roasted, then shredded and pressed into liquid, which is then fermented into tequila.

Though tequila is best known as a shot, there are varying qualities of tequila that range from cheap and boozyto expensive and rare vintages that rival the best Scotch whiskey. And, this clear liquid mixes well with a variety of mixers to create delicious cocktails.

Lick, Slug, Suck

The most famous, or perhaps infamous, way to consume tequila is the ubiquitous shot. But tequila comes with its own accouterments and ritual, also known as lick, sip, suck. 

For the authentic experience, you should be served at least one ounce of tequila in a shot glass, with a slice of lime and a shaker of salt. You lick your hand (most commonly between your thumb and index finger), and sprinkle with salt. Take the shot in one hand and the lime in the other. First, lick the salt from your hand, second, down the shot, and then immediately suck or bite the lime.

The salt and the lime are actually best when drinking cheap tequila, which can often have a rough taste. The salt overrides your taste buds and makes you salivate, which distracts from the taste of the tequila. The lime lessens the raw, burning taste of the tequila after you drink.  It’s the same concept of a boiler maker, which makes cheap whiskey more palatable by chasing it with beer to wash the taste away. If you are sipping Don Julio 1942, skip the salt and lime

Other tasty concoctions

Though shots of tequila are a great way of bonding with friends, the most common way of drinking tequila is in a cocktail. Here are a few of the most common, and/or the most interesting drinks.