I think most people who enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to time have likely experienced a period in their life when too many tequila shots led to questionable behavior. Because of this, you generally find two schools of thought on this particular liquor: total abstinence or devotion. Now when you throw in the margarita, especially in Texas, you find most people fall in the latter category, but even so, the mention of tequila often stirs up strong reactions.
I abstained from the tequila trend for many years because I was a poor college student and the only stuff I could afford was the same stuff that would have me puking my guts out for many hours after the fun times had long ended. Luckily, I've grown up some and have discovered that there are actually quite a few tequilas that are smooth, tasty, and won't leave you with a new crop of black hair on your chest. After trying several different brands of premium tequilas, I was told that I needed to check out Dulce Vida.
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I was first introduced to Dulce Vida Reposado in a Skinny Margarita cocktail at Sugarcane on Washington, where Dulce Vida representative Laura Goldstein was doing a tasting. This was my kind of drink. It was simple and classic and included only agave nectar (also by Dulce Vida), fresh citrus juices (lemon, lime and orange), and filtered tap water in addition to the tequila. It was extremely refreshing, not too sugary, and perfect for the early summer afternoon I was enjoying. After a sip or two, I was ready to try the tequila au naturel. All of Dulce Vida's tequilas are made from 100 percent organic agave harvested from Tepic, Nayarit in Mexico. This results in a distinctively delectable tequila with no fillers, and the triple distillation lessens the likelihood of a nasty hangover.
The Blanco is Dulce Vida's prizewinner. Goldstein says the Blanco is the most popular of their products, even taking home top honors in the recent tequila throwdown. It makes for an excellent margarita or a great base for any type of infusion. It was amazing. I am not the toughest of drinkers and have been known to desperately try to refrain from gagging when shooting something strong, but this tequila was so smooth and delicate that I could have sipped it for hours. Goldstein recommended that I chase it with an orange slice sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar instead of lime in order to bring out the complexity of flavors, but to be honest I didn't need salt or lime or any type of crutch to get me through the tasting.
Next I sipped on and shot the Reposado, which is aged for approximately 6-8 years. This was the best tequila I have ever tasted. While I completely understand the blank canvas appeal of the Blanco, I was enraptured by the depth of golden flavor in the Reposado. The Anejo, aged 24 months in American Oak whiskey barrels, came last. This was a tequila lover's wet dream. The rich oakiness from the barrel aging provided such a flavor rush that I almost felt like I had tasted the perfect combination of whiskey and tequila but with a decidedly agave flair.
Dulce Vida premium tequilas are very reasonably priced in the $40-plus range. The company is Austin-based and very Texan, which is great, considering the locavore movement that we are in the midst of now. You can find it in restaurants and bars throughout Houston, such as Sugarcane, Davenport, Chapultepec, Ninfa's and many others. Or take a trip over to Spec's and buy a bottle for yourself. It's a fairly new company, so if you don't see it on the shelf, ask. You'll be glad you did.