The latest TV ad for Hornitos Tequila, titled “Not Just Any Tequila,” is on its way to the commercial hall of fame. Four guys walk into a bar and order tequila shots. When the bartender asks them if they want a specific brand, they reply: “It doesn’t matter---any tequila.” The ad then morphs into a series of fantasies. The quartet are standing in a barber shop, saying “It doesn’t matter---any haircut,” followed by a shot of four badly butchered mohawks. After saying “It doesn’t matter---any tattoo,” they end up with facial ink depicting butterflies and happy faces. In a travel agency, they say “It doesn’t matter---anyplace,” and ride a bus filled with octogenarians singing, “She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain when she comes.” In the final shot, they relent and say: “You know what---make it Hornitos Tequila.”
There’s no doubt that most of the Hornitos ad campaigns have focused on a young, hip demographic, as does their website. “The history of Hornitos Tequila and its legendary founder Don Francisco Javier Sauza is long and storied,” declares the site, “But, let’s face it, you’re probably not here for history. You’re here for now.” The few Millennials or Generation Xers interested in the long-term might want to know that Sauza was one of the great pioneers in the production of tequila. He inherited the firm that bore his name from his grandfather, and ran it from 1946 to 1988. He insisted that true tequila come from the Mexican state of Jalisco, and that it be made from 100% pure blue agave. He created most of the high-end Sauza spirits, such as Commemorativo and Tres Generaciones, and launched the Hornitos brand in 1950.
Plata ($25; 80 proof/40% ABV) is the workhorse of the Hornitos line. The nose is clean and floral, with whiffs of anise and menthol. Although slightly sweet on entry, the mid palate is dominated by pepper notes and a continuation of the minty, anise-infused flavors hinted at on the nose. The finish is long and spicy, with a pleasant burn. Given the purity of flavor, this would make an excellent Margarita.
If you’re fond of drinking tequila in the traditional manner, you know that the combination of salt, lime and spirit can be challenging---particularly as the evening wears on, and hand/eye coordination is in short supply. Hornitos has solved the dilemma with Lime Shot ($23; 70 proof/35% ABV), which combines all the essential components of the ritual in a single glass. The nose is filled with mouthwatering aromas of fresh lime, tart and appealing. In the mouth, the spirit is ripe and full-bodied, with the natural sweetness of the citrus balanced by a slight salty edge. All the elements come together on the resonant finish.
THE HAIL MARY
3 parts Hornitos Plata
1.5 parts lime juice
1 part agave nectar
3 pineapple chunks
5 sprigs cilantro
2 thin habanero pepper slices
Muddle all ingredients together; add ice; shake well and strain into an old fashioned glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a habanero slice.
A GREEN RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT
2 parts Hornitos Plata
2/3 part Green Chartreuse
1 part fresh lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass; add ice; shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a lime twist.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, by Mark Spivak, is published by Lyons Press (Globe Pequot). Writing in an engaging and appealing style, Spivak chronicles the untold tales of twelve spirits that changed the world and forged the cocktail culture. While some are categories and others are specific brands, they are “the best kinds of stories---the type a writer could never make up.”
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