July 24 is National Tequila Day, and the Mexican spirit is more popular than ever. Tequila production has tripled over the last decade to meet growing global demand and the image of tequila has been revamped from the rotgut of choice for college students, to a sophisticated sipping spirit with celebrity brands from George Clooney and Justin Timberlake.
Tequila has crossed the border many times in history, from World War II and the 1968 Olympics, to the advent of the ultra-premium tequila starting in the 1980s.
Food blogger Bill Esparza credits John Paul DeJoria and the Patron brand for creating a thirst for sippable tequila. These days, said Esparza, the Patron distillery has become so high volume, it may lack the quality control that turned them into top shelf property.
This August Patron is introducing an even more high end line, called Patron Roca. It hearkens back to the traditional methods of crushing the agave with a stone wheel.
However, there are plenty of strong tequila brands that have been creating traditional-style tequila and have gained a presence in the American market. Esparza's favorites include 7 Leguas, Volcan de mi Tierra and Tapatio brand tequilas.