Agave 101 in Tucson

Photo provided by Hotel Congress

The Agave plant is a cherished succulent Tucsonans know and love. We find it in the wild, we see it in our neighbors yard and yes, we eat and drink it! There’s a slew of spirits produced from the agave plant, most notably tequila, But what about the others? You might see spirits like Bacanora, Sotol and Mezcal on a drink menu and shy away from them. Don’t let these mysterious spirits pass you by! We’ve got some fun facts that’ll make you an Agave master in no time! Plus a refreshing recipe from Hotel Congress Mixologist, Dave Clark, that’ll wow your friends at your next cocktail party.

Fun Fact #1:
All spirits that are distilled from the Agave plant are called Mezcals. So tequila is a type of Mezcal much like how scotch and bourbon are types of Whiskey. In short: All distilled agave spirits fall under the “mezcal” category.

Fun Fact #2:
All agave spirits are made from the heart of the agave plants, also known as the “piña.” It takes anywhere from 8-10+ years for a single Agave plant to mature and be ready for harvest.

Fun Fact #3:
Mezcal has regulations just like other spirits and wines do. For example, Champagne can only be made in Champagne, France. Tequila is made from only one type of agave, the Blue Agave, which has a very high natural sugar concentration needed for fermentation. All other Mezcals can be made from a variety of agave plants from specific regions of Mexico.

Fun Fact #4
Mezcal is known for its smoky flavor which comes from fire roasting the “piña” in an underground pit layered with wood and coal for several days. For Tequila, the piña is typically cooked or steamed in an autoclave. So if you like a smokey, deep flavor try the Mezcal cocktail on the menu instead!

Fun Fact #5:
Remember, Agave is a succulent not a cactus!

Now that we’ve covered the basics, make sure you enjoy Mezcal neat or mixed in a cocktail. No more shots!

“Flor de Jalisco” provided by Dave Clark,  Hotel Congress.
2oz Blanco Tequila
1oz lemon
.75 oz Agave syrup
3 mint sprigs
2 cucumber slices
Combine all ingredients into mixing glass. Shake hard over ice. Double strain into cocktail glass. Mint and cucumber garnish.

Want to learn more about Agave?

Agave Heritage Festival is back starting April 27th-May 6th.  Agave Heritage Festival is a city-wide, ten-day destination event that celebrates the unique importance of the agave plant and the borderlands culture with seminars, trade shows, and world-class culinary events. Experience a live agave fire roasting, attend the Agave Fiesta and  dive into the cocktail world of mezcal, sipping and strolling through the bar lounges of Downtown Tucson during Agave Fest! Check out the full events schedule and start planning your Agave Fest itinerary!