Pairing food with alcohol may not be a new concept, but adding tequila to the mix most certainly is. The distance between wine and tequila some years ago was gargantuan. To the wider world, a tequila drink was seen as the naughty shot choice for party time. Conversely, wine was a luxury item to be savored. This, however, was the worldview, and not the opinion of tequila in Mexico. Tequila’s place of origin has long respected its depth of flavor and tonal complexities. Throughout Mexico tequila is a favorite among after-dinner drinks.
Thanks to a higher class range of products such as Avion tequila, this spirit has not so much shaken off its previous image but rather, shown its dexterity. This is a drink that is whatever you want it to be. There are products for those looking to bring life to the party. Some products encourage long drinks and even longer conversations. This has resulted in tequila and food pairs that work in delicious harmony, and here we explore some of the finest creations.
Best Food Type For Tequila Pairing
Tequila’s new standing has encouraged many to find food pairs that combine flawlessly with different varieties. As you can imagine, so many of these plates have their origins in Mexican cuisine. When one thinks of Mexican food, images of street vendors instantly come to mind. Fresh and local products, lovingly prepared and sold hot to all comers. This is where so many have gone when creating dishes to pair with variations of tequila.
There is a certain rawness to Mexican street food, and it doesn’t translate well to an indoor setting. To bridge this gap, classic dishes, and snacks are given gourmet treatment, to perfectly combine with both the tequila and the setting.
Let’s take a look at some snack and meal options you could explore, which pair seamlessly with great tequila.
How to Pair Reposado
Reposado tequila is the most-sold tequila variety in the world. Generally, this is a smooth drink with notes of sweetness, and tones of vanilla and caramel. Reposado is the go-to for shooters and we also see it in classic cocktails like a Paloma and a tequila Old-Fashioned. In terms of gourmet street food, here are some options that work in perfect taste harmony with this tequila.
Pan-Seared Shrimp Tacos
A high-quality reposado offers ever-so-slightly smoky notes, bringing that fruity-sweetness in too. This makes for the ideal flavor profile to pair shrimp with. To give it that street food edge, pan-sear the shrimp with chopped garlic and some pepperoncini chili flakes. As the heat cooks off the flakes, lower the heat and add some smoky chipotle sauce. Add the shrimp to a soft, corn tortilla and garnish with cilantro and lime juice. For this dish, drink the tequila neat with a single cube of ice, sipping gently after each bite to embrace this blend of flavors.
Other options to consider:
- Sliced steak tacos
- Mango sorbet in waffle ‘tostadas’
- Slow-cooked pork barbacoa with fried plantains
How To Pair Silver Tequila
We most commonly see silver tequila used in the iconic tequila sunrise cocktail. Of all tequila varieties, this is considered as having the strongest and most agave taste to it. This may not be to your liking on its own, but it does serve as an ideal foundation for flavor combinations. Mixologists love to use silver tequila for fruit-based cocktails, yet there are even more flavors in foods that can elevate this delicious tequila.
Sunshine Snack Dish
As we have just mentioned, silver tequila is a great cocktail base and is an ideal partner for sweet and fruity flavors. For our gourmet street food pairing, we are going to combine the refreshing Paloma cocktail, with a selection of prepared fruits and snacks. This is the perfect pairing for a sunny day. Mexican taco stands may be iconic, yet we cannot ignore the range of freshly prepared fruit you can also purchase.
Prepare a Paloma pitcher to taste, with fresh grapefruit juice, club soda, lime juice, and some simple syrup if you have some. For your fruit selection, we are going to add cubes of watermelon, sliced mango, cubed pineapple, and freshly cut strawberries. To cut through that sweetness you can also add some biltong, a great snack that knits together all of these flavors. Finally, you can add a more neutral snack like jicama with chamoy sauce. These flavors work exceptionally well together.
Other options to consider:
- Whitebait tostadas
- Breaded chicken breast with salsa macha
- Goats cheese quesadillas
How To Pair Añejo
Añejo tequila goes through an aging process of up to 3 years, and extra añejo can age for even more than that. The result of this process is a product that is incredibly rich in flavor. With notes of butterscotch, caramel, and even custard on some palates, this is a product packed with character. Pairing this drink is more challenging than other varieties, but not impossible.
Kissing Añejo With Nutty Churros
For this pairing, we are going to enjoy the añejo neat, to savor all of those delicately balanced flavors. A great pairing option for those flavors is the classic Mexican street snack, churros. This fried dough provides the sweetness we need to elevate those complex tones in tequila. To give the churros that gourmet touch, we can fill them with liquid praline chocolate. This makes for the perfect, sweet, and strong tequila match.
Other options to consider:
- Oven-baked yams with cinnamon and salted butter
- Salted caramel popcorn
- Tamales with chicken and mole
Tips For Hosting Your Very Own Pairing Night With Friends
Setting up a tequila and food pairing evening at home is a lot of fun. Make sure that you take your time in selecting both the snacks and the best tequila. It is important that you remember the essence of street food. The focus here should be on flavor and speed, don’t worry too much about the presentation. Your evening should be sociable, engaging and encourage everyone to get their hands dirty.