Cinco de Mayo is nearly here, and you know what that means: time to stock up on fine tequilas, kick up your heels, and start mixing margaritas. I taste-tested these tequilas side-by-side, then used each in the very appealing classic margarita recipe from Chronicle Books' Ultimate Bar Book, a classic tome that came out in 2006:
PAQUI SILVERA TEQUILA BLANCO
Paqui Silvera Tequila has such a smooth, agave-rich profile, with hints of smoke, white pepper, citrus. I'm happy to drink this one neat: a tequila where blue agave properties the spirit is known for are properly showcased. It is complex, robust but entirely drinkable with a gentle finish. No surprise, it worked beautifully in a margarita, presenting itself once again as smooth and all too easily drinkable. This may be my strongest recommend of the three as it is one to please both the tequila aficionado and novice. $45
DULCE VIDA SILVER TEQUILA
From a distillery based in Austin, TX, Dulce Vida is a 100 proof tequila that fires on all cylinders. Receiving top honors in its category in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition this past March, it's a fiery spirit in all three forms: blanco, reposado, anejo. Made from 100 percent organic blue agave, the Blanco is unaged, crisp, lemony and straight-up boozy. In a margarita, it's more potent and less smooth than the Paqui, though as the ice in an on-the-rocks margarita melts, it grows increasingly balanced and delicious. $45
CORRIDO "CRISTALINO" BLANCO
Though I am particularly partial to Corrido's Anejo, their vibrant, uber smooth blanco tequila makes for a fine margarita. This 2009 International Review of Spirits Gold Medal winner is smooth, citrusy and bracingly astringent. In a margarita, it partners well with lime juice and triple sec, while being the best value of this high-quality threesome at around $35.
Using the elegant Combier triple sec, here's a margarita recipe also highlighting Dulce Vida:
.75 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz Combier Liqueur d'Orange or Combier Royal
1.5 oz Dulce Vida Tequila
Shake with ice; strain over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.