Friday Night Shoot-out: How to Do a Tequila Shot

How to Do a Tequila ShotWhile most of the shooters on this site are a complex combination of spirits and liqueurs aimed at producing a shot with a unique and amazing flavor, this shooter uses just one spirit: tequila!

The Perfect Tequila Shot
  • 1.5 oz blanco Tequila
  • 1/4 tsp of kosher salt
  • wedge of lime

Begin by licking your arm (I usually use the underside of my left wrist) and sprinkling on the salt. The salt will stick to your arm and will be ready for the shot. When ready for the shot, lick off the salt from your arm and proceed to drink the tequila. Wait a second to appreciate the flavor, even swishing the tequila around your mouth if it is particularly good. Then swallow and bite into the wedge of lime, sucking out some of the lime juice. That’s it folks, one shot down, certainly more to come!

The trick to a good tequila shot is the process. Especially if you aren’t used to the taste of tequila. Tequila by nature is a very bitter spirit and the salt helps to neutralize this by providing salty flavor (no big surprise there). After you have taken the shot, the acid and sugar from the lime in turn neutralize the salt and restore your mouth to more or less normal. I say more or less because after a couple of tequila shots, your sense of “normal” is almost certain to change.

There are two more keys to a great tequila shot. The first is to keep it chilled. You can keep the shots ice cold in several ways, the most popular in tequila bars being to serve the shot in an ice bath. At home, I usually just put the bottle of tequila in the freezer a couple of hours before shots to get the tequila to the right temperature.

The second key is to use good blanco tequila made with 100% blue agaveTequila is one of the hardest spirits to buy on the cheap, because many tequilas are in fact not tequilas, but mixtos or mezcals. Mezcals can be made with any type of agave plant, where as true tequila can only be made with 100% blue agave. Mixtos are also not 100% blue agave but rather 51% blue agave cut with grain alcohol. There are even some cases rumored of mixtos being cut with corn syrup. Common and popular brands such as Jose Cuervo Gold are actually a mixtos, not a tequila. This is not to say however that the most famous tequila family can’t make great tequila: Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia is one of the best premium tequilas on the market. If you like anejos, that is great! But they are really for sipping. The extra subtleties from the aging process are lost in a shot and masked in cocktails.

While I have struggled to find an inexpensive blanco tequila for mixing and shots, I finally located a bottle the other day of a brand called San Matias Legado Blanco. It is 100% blue agave and is only $12/fifth or put bluntly, dirt cheap in the tequila world. It has also taken home a silver medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. This great tequila has a smooth and not overly bitter flavor which compliments cocktails quite well and even lends itself to shooting. I highly recommend it over my previous go-to, which was Lunazel Blanco.

Total cost per drink: $0.70

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Posted in Dollar Drinks, Shooter, Tequila

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Nick McAfee
Nick McAfee is a student of Princeton University and is passionate about mixology. As a student with a low monthly income, he has developed ways to create simple cocktails with complex flavors from inexpensive ingredients. Learn more about Nick and Broke & Thirsty.
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