Oh Klaus. Just the very mention of travel and he’s in got his suitcase packed and the plane tickets ready. A trip to Florida brings his little terra-cotta mind to all things citrus related. But what goes best with citrus fruits? Of course Florida travel where Florida citrus just tastes better than any other place around.
Klaus loves fresh juices in all his cocktails and wouldn’t it be funny if he started requesting fresh juices everywhere he goes?
Well he does. And it makes some bartenders very nervous, especially the ones who aren’t on a fresh juice program. There is a big difference in flavor between using fresh juices and reconstituted liquids from a powder. Klaus says NO WAY and I know he is correct. There just is no substitute for freshly squeezed.
One of the things that Klaus taught me down in Florida is the importance of the best Tequila. And what brand does Klaus enjoy over all others? Well, that is a tough question to be certain. Some days Klaus loves the USDA Certified Organic Casa Noble. Others he prefers the crisp and aromatic Tequila Cabeza from the 86 Company. But this time when Klaus was down in Florida, all Klaus wanted was the extremely expressive Tecnico Anejo Tequila. This Tequila is 100% pure Agave and it’s Spectacular Tequila Elaborated which means that this Tequila is the very best of its own distinctive style.
The Blue Agaves
The elaboration of Rudo and Tecnico tequilas begins with cultivation of blue agaves. Blue agaves, used in production of our tequilas, are grown in the Highlands of Jalisco, the area known as “Los Altos”. Aficionados of the drink believe that Los Altos is the best region for the cultivation of blue agave. Thanks to the high altitudes of Los Altos above sea level, these agave plants take much more time to grow to full maturity than the plants grown in the plains, and since it takes more time these plants consolidate more agave flavors, which they later impart to the final tequila. In addition, blue agave plants, that are grown in the Highlands, often have more sweet fruit flavor and more pronounced vegan notes, which enrich the tequila’s taste.
Seven Steps to Victory
Elaboration of tequila is a seven-step process:
- Harvesting of Blue Agave hearts
- Shredding and extracting of juices
- Aging (Reposado and Anejo types) of tequila in the barrels
The results of this long and labor-intensive process depend on a distillery’s closely guarded “know-how” and how closely the producer follows the traditions of tequila-making.
Planting, tending and harvesting the agave plant remains a manual effort, unchanged by modern technologies, and stretching back hundreds of years. Agave plants take about 7 to 9 years to be ready for use. At the peak of its maturity, the blue agave consolidates the maximum amount of flavorful sugars. The men who harvest it, the “jimadores”, possess generations of knowledge about the plants. The jimadores cut the stems off with the “coa” knife (similar to a machete, but with the rounded point), and harvest the “heart” of the agave, which looks like a pineapple (that is why we call it “piña”, which means pineapple). An agave “piña” can weigh up to 180 pounds (normally, it weights around 100 to 135 pounds). These hearts of the agave are used to produce tequila.
Doing it right the hard way
The elaboration process continues with the cooking and grinding of the agave hearts. The cooking can be performed either in the traditional masonry ovens or in stainless steel autoclaves. The cooking period is longer in masonry ovens (48 hours) than in autoclaves (12 hours). The purpose of this stage is to convert agave nectar into sugars which are easy to ferment. While autoclaves are cheaper and faster, they fail to properly convert nectar into flavorful sugars that causes the tequila to have the harsh taste. We slow-bake our blue agaves according to the traditional method, in stone ovens called “hornos”. This method ensures that the sugars are properly cooked and not caramelized. Once agaves are cooked to perfection, they are shredded and juices are extracted.
We use the juice from the first pressing of the baked agaves only, and then slowly ferment the “mosto”, a process that requires approximately 72-96 hours, to transform the sugars into alcohol. In an effort to reduce costs and speed up production, many other producers use commercial yeast to jump-start fermentation. No such short cuts are practiced to make Rudo and Tecnico tequilas.
The fermented product is double distilled to produce clear tequila called Blanco. While Blanco does not require aging, Reposado and Anejo must mature in casks before consumption. As with other spirits that are aged in casks tequila takes on the flavors of the wood, while the harshness of the alcohol mellows. We age our tequila in white oak barrels, previously used for bourbon production. Reposado takes 4 months to mature at minimum and Anejo -18 months.
The closer a distillery follows traditional artisanal methods of tequila production, the better is the final result – taste and flavor of the beverage. The distillers, or “cooks” carefully preserve the secrets of production, which are passed from generation to generation.
Klaus is VERY fond of Rudo Tecnico Tequila and he created a signature cocktail for Beekman 1802 house.
Maybe it will become the house drink for the summer?
Klaus would be honored. I think he’d like me to cut to the chase and share that cocktail already!
The White Room Cocktail uses Tenico Anejo Tequila. If you cannot get this Tequila, I recommend the Arrogante Anejo. Both are produced by the same distillery. Both are luscious and spiked with salt air and sweet honey from the Agave fruit. Both are eminently delicious and very easy to drink. And yes, both are so pure that hangovers seem to be a thing of the past.
The White Room Cocktail
Ingredients: Klaus tested for purity and strength. Will serve three comfortably.
3 Collins glasses washed with Barr Hill Gin (from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont)
5 oz. Tecnico Anejo Tequila or your choice of Anejo Tequila
2 oz. Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2 oz. Freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz. Freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 oz. Agave Syrup
3 oz. Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (Lemon)
“Inspired Water” from my Mavea filtration pitcher infused with lime zest and frozen
To a Boston Shaker fill ¾ with regular bar ice
Add the Tequila and the juices
Add the Agave Syrup
Close up and shake for 15 seconds
Add the lime zest infused ice cubes to a couple Collins glasses that you washed out with Barr Hill Gin first
Pour the Tequila mixture over the cubes
Shake a couple drops of the Peychaud’s bitters over the top
Finish with a couple ounces of the Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water to finish
Garnish with a grapefruit zest if you can get one for each glass