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Traditional serves

Words by Simon Difford

In Mexico tequila does not tend to be served mixed. Instead it is most often served straight at room temperature in a two-ounce ‘caballito’ shot glass (the name means ‘little horse’) with a second caballito glass filled with an accompanying mixed drink called ‘sangrita’, meaning 'little blood' in Spanish.

Due to being red in colour, non-alcoholic and spicy, people often assume that Sangrita is tomato-based and similar to a Bloody Mary mix. However, a true Sangrita is made with orange juice, lime juice, pomegranate juice and hot chilli sauce. It is the pomegranate and chilli which gives sangrita its red colour (our recipe calls for tomato juice and pomegranate juice). Both the tequila and sangrita are traditionally served at room temperature. The tequila should be drunk first, followed by the sangrita chaser.

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While not the traditional way of enjoying tequila in Mexico, tequila is remarkably versatile in cocktails, featuring in a bewildering array of drinks - most notably the Margarita.

The Cantaritos is the one tequila mixed drink that is commonly made in bars, cafés and even road side stalls all over Jalisco. Made with freshly squeezed orange, grapefruit and lime juice with tequila, a pinch of salt and invigorated with sparkling grapefruit soda, it is usually served in a simple 'cantaritos' clay pot which usually becomes a disposable takeaway container.

Finer tequilas are best appreciated drunk neat from a tasting glass in the same way that quality cognacs are traditionally served.

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