Connect with us

Drinking

3 Questions About Tequila, Answered

A food historian from Colorado State debunks some myths on National Tequila Day.

The Conversation

Published

on

(Image: Jgiansan, Wikimedia Commons)

Jeffrey Miller, Colorado State University

In less than a decade, worldwide sales of tequila have doubled, while sales of premium and ultra-premium brands have shot up by 292 percent and 706 percent, respectively.

In recent years, you may have heard of tequila tastings and walked by a new mezcal bar – and wondered about the difference between the two. Or you’ve seen a headline proclaiming that a shot of tequila a day will keep the doctor away.

As a food historian, I hope to debunk some myths and explore some little-known aspects of the Mexican spirit that’s become a global phenomenon.

What’s the deal with the worm?

Walking through the tequila section of your local liquor store, you may see a bottle with a worm floating in it. But if you see one, you’re looking at a bottle of mezcal – not tequila.

While all tequila is mezcal, all mezcal is not tequila: To be labeled as tequila the spirit must be distilled from at least 51 percent blue agave (Agave weberii) and made within a region around the Mexican town of Tequila.

Mezcals, on the other hand, can be made from any of 30 aloe-like succulents and can be made in a number of Mexican states.

As for the worm, it’s the larva of the maguey moth, an animal that lives and feeds on agave plants.

It was originally inserted into bottles of Gusano Rojo
mezcal as a marketing gimmick. The worm isn’t a psychedelic as fraternity lore would have it, but it is edible and is sold as a delicacy in food markets across central Mexico.

Can tequila actually be good for you?

Tequila has long been thought of as a cure for various ailments.

During the influenza pandemic of 1918, Mexican doctors would prescribe tequila with lemon and salt to treat flu symptoms. To this day, Mexicans stir it into hot tea with honey to assuage sore throats.

In recent years, you may have come across articles giddily announcing that a shot of tequila a day can lower bad cholesterol and blood sugar.

But the study showing lower cholesterol levels was conducted on mice, and there’s been no evidence showing the same effect on humans. (In fact, the findings for mice couldn’t be replicated in a similar study.) Meanwhile, agave has been shown to have a higher fructose content than sugar – and even high-fructose corn syrup.

In the end, there’s not likely to be any inadvertent health benefits to your tequila benders.

Is the margarita named after a woman?

Tequila is mixed with lime juice, salt and liquor to make the margarita, one of the more popular summer cocktails.

Most of the margarita’s origin stories claim it was named after a girl named Margarita. One version of the legend says that the drink was named after dancer Marjorie King: On a trip to Mexico, she asked a bartender near Tijuana to make her a drink with tequila since she was allergic to grain-based spirits. Another version traces the drink to Ensenada, Mexico, where, in the early 1940s, a bartender concocted the drink to honor Margarita Henkel, the daughter of the German Ambassador to Mexico.

Neither story is probably true. Before Prohibition, a very popular cocktail in California was the Brandy Daisy, a mix of brandy, Curaçao liqueur and lemon juice. As people drifted over the border into Mexico to evade Prohibition’s restrictions, it’s likely that bartenders began making the drink with Mexico’s national spirit, which would have been more available and cheaper.

The Conversation“Margarita” is Spanish for daisy, so when Americans ordered a daisy, it would have been natural for the bartender to reply, “One margarita, coming up.”

Jeffrey Miller, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Hospitality Management, Colorado State University. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Are you looking for digital journalism training and experience? Are you a journalism major who wants to take your career to the next level? CMN’s Digital Journalism course gives you real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to journalism influencers and mentors, and a great place to display your work. You can get academic credit too. Check out the Digital Journalism Course here.

Sign up for the Morning Scoop

and wake up with us each day.

CMN Reports

National News4 hours ago

CNN is Requesting an Emergency Hearing after Trump Administration Threatens to Revoke Acosta’s Press Pass Again

CNN file a lawsuit against President Trump

by , Mercy College
History3 days ago

Judge Rules CNN’s Jim Acosta Must be Granted Previous Press Credentials

A win for journalistic freedom...as the saga continues.

by , CMN Senior Correspondent
2018 Midterms1 week ago

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Wins a Third Term

Many government officials from New York were reelected and new faces were elected into government in Tuesday's Midterm Election.

by , Mercy College
2018 Midterms2 weeks ago

Electoral Reform and Voting Rights Expansion Won Big in the Midterms

From Florida to Michigan, voting rights expansions and electoral reform are making gains.

by , The Catholic American University
National News2 weeks ago

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized After Fracturing Ribs in a Fall

The Supreme Court Justice fell in the office on Wednesday night

by , Cal Poly SLO
Academics2 weeks ago

Analysis: Adolescent Mental Health Issues are on the Rise and Gun Violence is to Blame

Children are rightfully beginning to fear going to school because of the massive amount of school shootings within recent years.

by , The College of New Jersey
Health3 weeks ago

First FDA Approved Cannabis-Based Drug Available for Prescription

CBD has been known to treat seizures for years, but now the FDA is on board, making it legal for...

by , CMN Senior Correspondent
Government3 weeks ago

Multiple Suspicious Devices Sent to Prominent People in the Democratic Party

Several devices sent to various locations within a few days.

by , Mercy College

Top Reads