5 Tequilas for Cinco de Mayo

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St. Patrick’s Day calls for Irish whiskey. The Kentucky Derby brings out a stampede of mint juleps and bourbons. And Cinco de Mayo is the perfect occasion to indulge in excellent tequilas.

But first, a quick primer: Blanco is best used in mixed drinks (like that margarita you’re thinking about right now)—not for sipping. Joven is unaged tequila that typically has a strong agave flavor. Reposado (meaning rested) is aged in oak barrels for a couple months to a year. These tequilas are mellow, complex, and will never cause you to make that “tequila face.

 The five tequilas below are far from the ones typically associated with a lime and salt—they’re far more sophisticated.

Speaking of which, if you want to be the smartest one at your Cinco de Mayo party, remember what it’s actually about: The holiday commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Casa Dragones Joven ($274)
In 2008 Casa Dragones founders Bob Pittman (of MTV fame) and Bertha Gonzalés Nieves sought to create a tequila with no “wince factor.” The next year, they released their first masterpiece: Casa Dragones’ small-batch blue agave joven tequila, which was produced by blending 100 percent blue agave silver and extra-aged tequilas—to remarkable results. Casa Cragones concocted a joven that’s actually made for sipping, with a smooth and clean finish to boot. And much like a single malt, it’s best consumed neat—or with a splash of water, but only if you must. Its handcrafted crystal decanter is also something I love: Each bottle is hand-engraved using a traditional Mexican technique called pepita, creating small seed-like notches on the crystal. And if you’re not quite ready for a sipping tequila, Casa Dragones recently released a blanco, which you can enjoy on the rocks or in cocktails.