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The Long and Fascinating History of Tequila You Should Know

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Tequila is one of the most popular types of alcohol in the world. It even surpassed whiskey in popularity in the USA, back in 2021. By doing so, it became the second most popular alcohol after vodka.

Here we have talked a lot about different varieties of wine. We have also shared the history of brandy, the origin of rum, and more interesting facts about alcohol. Cocktails and trendy beverages are also widely discussed on our blog. 

By sharing all that we mentioned, and now the history of tequila, we aim to inform you, inspire you, and help your business grow. Whether you are running a country club, a bar, or a restaurant, we can help you build a great beverage inventory and master your beverage menu.

If you want to know about tequila history, how this drink is made, and gather interesting information you can use in your restaurant marketing campaigns, keep reading! 

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The Long History of Tequila 

Tequila, the world-famous Mexican spirit, was first made centuries ago. This gave people enough time to come up with different takes on the history of tequila. 

This agave spirit is loved by many. Even actor George Clooney decided to create his own brand of tequila. However, things are not that simple, even though tequila has been around for so long.

To make great tequila, the distillers need to adhere to a strict set of rules. One of these rules is ensuring that each bottle of tequila is made in a proper location. Other rules include using the right ingredients and aging the spirit for the right amount of time. 

Now, let’s go back in time to see the unique history of tequila!

Key Takeaway: The history of tequila is long and a bit complicated. It did not become a crown favorite overnight but slowly and steadily built up a reputation of one of the best-known and most preferred alcoholic beverages in the United States.

The Aztecs Ferment Agave - 1000 B.C. to 200 A.D.

The long tequila history didn’t begin at a party. At first, it was not the party drink of choice and it wasn’t even close to the tequila we know today. Back then, between 1000 B.C. to 200 A.D., the Aztecs were making a drink known as pulque. This drink was made of sap of the agave plant and it’s also known as agave wine. 

This drink was important in their culture. They worshipped two gods - Mayahuel, the goddess of the maguey, and Patecatl, the god of pulque. The first ever documentation found of the pulque (on a stone wall, of course) was in 200 A.D. However, this drink actually caught up centuries later. 

The Spanish People Distill Agave - 1400s & 1500s

There are many theories on the beginning of agave distillation. A common one involves the Spanish invasion. Some say that the Spaniards couldn’t deal with the fact there was no brandy around, so they improvised using mud and agave. Today, we call this mezcal.

Here it’s important to know that all tequilas are technically mezcal. However, not all mezcals are in fact tequila. 

In the mid-1500s, the Spanish government opened a trade route from Mexico and Manila. In the 1600s, the Marquis of Altamira built the first large distillery. Today, the location is known as Tequila, Jalisco. 

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The Modern Tequila Was Born - 1700s to 1800s

The Cuervo family started commercially distilling tequila in 1758. Later, in 1873, the Sauza family started distilling, too. Of course, there were some smaller producers at the time as well. 

According to some sources, Don Cenobio Sauza was the one who identified blue agave as the best kind for tequila production. At this point, the history of tequila started to evolve. It’s believed that back then tequila was produced similarly as we know it today. 

The Invention of the Margarita - 1936

During the Prohibition period, Americans were unable to get quality whiskey and were limited to second-rate one, as well as bathtub gin. This is when the drinkers started taking advantage of Mexico’s agave drink. At that time, there were at least a hundred bars in Tijuana that were easy to access and drinks were easy to get, too. 

In 1936, it was again legal to drink alcohol in America. This meant that people didn’t have to go to Mexico to have a fun time. But despite this fact, a newspaperman called James Graham and his wife went to Tijuana and to one of the surviving bars. 

The bar was run by an Irishman called Madden who created the now world-famous Margarita by accident. This man was known in the area as Tequila Daisy. Margarita means Daisy in Spanish, so when the cocktail became famous, it was given this name. 

“Tequila” Became an Intellectual Property of Mexico - 1974

Mexcian government wanted to take ownership of the term “tequila.” Because of that, they declared it intellectual property back in 1974. Because of that tequila has to be made, as well as aged in specific regions of Mexico. This made it illegal for other countries to produce an agave drink and called it “tequila.” 

At that time, a Tequila Regulatory Council was created to ensure the quality of all produced tequilas and to promote the cutlery that was surrounding this spirit. 

Bartenders Fell In Love with Tequila - 2015

We are coming closer to today with the history of tequila. From the pulque back in the day to various craft tequilas we can have now, this drink has come a long way. Now, bartenders are loving it and they go beyond creating the well-known Margaritas and Tequila Sunrises.

In 2009, a man called Phil Ward opened a bar - Mayahuel. The name of the bar was inspired by an Aztec god. The bar was serving different tequilas and mezcal and helped popularize them even more. This is weather cocktails like Old Fashioned and Oaxaca became really well-known. 

Now, there are many more bars all over the United States that serve quality tequila and create delicious cocktail drinks with it. 

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Frequently Asked Questions about the History of Tequila

Although we shared a lot from the fascinating history of tequila, there’s more to know. Below, we have answered some frequently asked questions about it, which will give you even more information.

What Is Tequila Made From?

Tequila is made from the fermented and distilled juice of the blue agave plant. Specifically the Weber blue agave. The heart of the agave, which is called the piña, is used to produce this alcoholic beverage. 

How Is Tequila Traditionally Produced?

Traditional tequila production involves harvesting agave plants, cooking the piñas, mashing and fermenting the juice, and then distilling the liquid in copper stills. It’s a long and labor-intensive process, especially when striving to create high-quality tequila. 

Are There Variations of Tequila, Such as Flavored or Aged Tequilas?

There are variations of tequila, including flavored tequilas, which have added natural flavorings. There are also aged tequilas like Reposado and Añejo. The aged tequilas end up with different flavor profiles because they depend largely on the aging process.

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