margaritas with lime and mint

Blogs & Inspiration

The Agave Spirits Surge

Explore why agave spirits are trending and how to make the most of them in your bar.

Authors: Liz Furlong, Owner of CATA Agave Bar, listed Best New International Cocktail Bar – Latin America & Caribbean 2023 and industry insider, Deano Montcrieffe. 

Estimated reading time:  6 minutes 

Agave spirits, like tequila and mezcal, have taken the bar world by storm. Gone are the days of cheap tequila mixtos. The new kids on the block are much more premium, with a focus on quality not quantity – using 100% agave plant juice harvested at the plant’s peak maturity for an elevated, crisp taste. 

WHY ARE AGAVE SPIRITS SO HOT RIGHT NOW?

Agave specialists Liz Furlong and Deano Montcrieffe share more on the exciting rise of agave spirits.

“Agave spirits like tequila and mezcal are appealing to guests because of their unique craft, wide range of flavour profiles and their Mexican heritage, with an increased interest in well-known Mexican celebrations such as Cinco de Mayo. There’s also been a rise in celebrity-endorsed spirits such as Casamigos which has helped popularise agave-based spirits further”, says Liz. 

Deano Montcrieffe has been specialising in agave spirits and tequila for over 20 years now and believes that tequila is one of the most versatile categories out there. “There’s a real drive to offer customers something new and exciting that will challenge their perception of tequila and really showcase the drink’s unique flavours. Classic cocktail riffs are a great vehicle to achieve this”, says Deano. 

Liz adds “When I do agave tastings for those who are new to tequilas or mezcal, I introduce the category with something familiar to the flavour profile that the guest enjoys. For example, vodka drinkers can seek out silver tequilas for a refreshing, light highball, or scotch fans can sip on an Oaxacan mezcal with a dry, almost bonfire-like finish. This serves as a great introduction to the agave spirits category to get everyone feeling comfortable and open to trying something new.” 

How to Add a Tequila Twist to Classic Cocktails

“It is often assumed that tequila is only enjoyable neat or in a traditional tequila cocktail, like a Margarita or Paloma. However, when swapped in for other base spirits, the agave can bring a depth and give new life to familiar or overused recipes”, says Deano.

Don’t mess with the negroni! Well not according to Deano, who adds “Creating new drinks is a great opportunity to play with the anatomy of a classic cocktail and here I’ve chosen the classic Negroni. My Don Julio 70 White Negroni, uses Don Julio instead of gin, for a fresh, lighter twist on the classic with subtle vegetal notes. It went down incredibly well. Launched in Mexico and the US in 2011, Don Julio 70 is the world’s first clear Añejo. It’s aged for 18 months and then undergoes a special filtration process. This removes the colour from the liquid, but retains the complexity of an aged sprit, making it a great fit for a Negroni.”

TRENDING TEQUILA COCKTAILS

“Tequila cocktail trends in the bar world seem to be taking a back-to-basic approach”, adds Liz. 

“Firstly, many bars are going classic with tequila highballs topped with high quality mixers and a touch of fresh fruit, for their take on ranch water (similar to a margarita) style cocktails with no added sugar. 

Bars have also been subbing out spirits with tequila, turning your usual stirred cocktail, be it a classic negroni,martini or manhattan, into something unique. 

Trends are pointing towards adding savoury or umami ingredients - think olives, capers, pickled jalapeno, even pickled fruits - like my tequila cocktail with hibiscus pickled watermelon and salted watermelon juice.” 

NEED SOME INSPO TO GET YOUR TEQUILA COCKTAIL MENU TRENDING?

MEZCAL VS TEQUILA

With the rapid rise in demand for agave spirits, it’s important to understand where they come from and how they are made, as well as the complex spirits’ flavour. Check out our ultimate guide to tequila and mezcal to learn all about the key differences and predictions for the category in 2024.

CLASSIC COCKTAILS WITH TEQUILA

Want some more inspiration? Deano has shared a few recipes with a tequila twist to get you started. These include a Reposado Spritz, a White Negroni and a Casamigos Old Fashioned. Try them for yourself and get experimenting with tequila to discover the strength, subtlety, and versatility of this amazing spirit.  

CASA REPO SPRITZ

Casamigos Reposado has a silky texture that’s filled with cocoa, caramels and wood notes. These dense textures are carried by the bubbles, putting more length in the drink and setting it up to be a summer classic. Try this Casa Repo Spritz and see how you get on.

DON JULIO 70 WHITE NEGRONI

A bartender’s favourite, the Negroni is a surefire classic and for good reason. This recipe Don Julio 70 White Negroni is a modern twist that honours the blueprint and bitterness of a traditional Negroni.

CASAMIGOS AÑEJO OLD FASHIONED

The Old Fashioned goes south in this great recipe Casamigos Añejo Old Fashioned to showcase the qualities of an añejo tequila.

Key Takeaways

  • It’s often assumed tequila is only enjoyable neat or as part of a traditional tequila cocktail. 
  • When swapped in for other base spirits, the agave can bring a depth and new lease of life. 
  • Tequila is one of the most versatile categories out there. 
  • There’s a drive to offer something new that will challenge the perception of tequila. 
  • Classic cocktail riffs are a great vehicle to achieve something new and exciting for tequila.

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