You might not think of tequila as anything more than a particularly efficient way to get smashed at a Mexican restaurant, but this famous agave-based drink is more than meets the eye.
July 24 marks official National Tequila Day, and although we’re not sure who exactly decided this, or why, it seems like a perfect opportunity for some little known facts about tequila. For example…
Tequila used to be used as medicine
Seriously. This dates way back to ancient Aztec mythology and not just some guy trying to justify taking another shot.
Prescribed by Mexican doctors as an effective remedy against Spanish flu in 1918, tequila (the good, 100% Agave stuff) is also prized for its ability to stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, and relieve tension headaches.
Although, if not consumed in moderation, anecdotal evidence suggests it’ll be the thing to give you the headache.
You might not have even been drinking tequila this whole time
That brings us to our next fun fact for National Tequila Day: according to Mexican Tequila Law (well, now you know) you can only call a drink “tequila” if it has been made from a blue Weber agave plant that has grown in the Tequila region in Jalisco, Mexico.
Just like real champagne has to come from Champagne in France, tequila can’t be just any old thing.
Sadly, American regulations allow for imported tequila to be mixed with as much as 49% other alcohol, giving poor, misunderstood tequila a frat house reputation rather than the aura of classiness it enjoys in its native Mexico. Connoisseurs also claim that slowly sipping pure tequila rarely results in a hangover.
It takes 8 years to make tequila
Well, sort of. The shot that takes 0.8 seconds to knock back actually starts its life on an agave farm, where each giant plant takes at least 8 years to mature.
The long spiny leaves are then hacked off to get to the useful heart, which can weigh up to 80lbs. These are chopped in half, cooked, shredded and fermented for up to 40 hours. What’s leftover after distilling this liquid three times is the tequila we all know and love.
People drink, like, so much tequila
Every year, more than 300 million blue agave plants are grown, harvested and processed in Mexico in Jalisco and the surrounding areas.
The tequila industry exports hundreds of varieties every year, with Americans consuming more than 50 million liters of the stuff annually. You can work out how much tequila that is per person, but scientific sources indicate it’s an embarrassing amount.
Tequila has an esteemed place in the Guinness Book of Records
It’s not just your friends who feel extra competitive after a few rounds of tequila slammers, it turns out the drink inspires extremes of all kinds.
There’s the largest tequila tasting event, the record for the most bottles on display, the largest cocktail (that’s a 10,500 gallon Margarita, in case you’re curious) and the most expensive bottle of tequila.