These days, no well-rounded liquor cabinet is complete without a bottle of 100-percent-blue-agave tequila or complex mezcal. We enlisted Raul Yrastorza, general manager and head bartender at acclaimed Los Angeles bar Las Perlas, to find the five agave spirits you should give this year.
“You really can’t go wrong with any of their bottles,” says Yrastorza of this brand. “The blanco, reposado and añejo are all amazing examples of Highland tequilas.” But he particularly likes the blanco, which has plenty of toasted-agave notes.
If you’re looking for a truly unique gift, Yrastorza suggests the ArteNOM Selección de 1414 Reposado. “This is an outstanding example of the true potential of handcrafted and artisanal tequila,” he says.
Del Maguey is renowned for its small-batch bottlings, and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s from the village of Santo Domingo Albarradas, where “the cool evening climate and dry hot days produce an espadin agave like no other,” says Yrastorza. “The earthy mixture of roasted agave and citrus [notes]—mainly grapefruit-blossom—makes an unforgettable mezcal.”
While most tequila comes from the Mexican state of Jalisco, Chinaco is made about 500 miles away, in Tamaulipas. Its “drier and arid climate produces agave that creates very rich tequilas,” says Yrastorza. As a result, this liquor has “hints of browned butter and earthy citrus.”
It’s hard to find a bartender who doesn’t love mezcal these days. And Yrastorza recommends Fidencio Madrecuixe Mezcal Joven, which hails from Santiago Matatlán in Oaxaca. What does it taste like? “Roasted agave, pepper, spice and love!”