TQLA’s Tequilier Will Change Your Mind About the Wily Spirit
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 17:09
In the world of alcohol, tequila is the wild child. You know, the one that makes shedding your clothes and dancing on tables seem perfectly normal. A new culinary and mixology concept restaurant opening in Mesa is aiming to change all misconceptions of the fiery spirit.
After experiencing great success at the original Houston location, TQLA owner Michael Nelson decided to expand his brand with a Valley location. The restaurant boasts authentic southwestern cuisine, a collection of about 60 tequilas and unique tequila tap system that hyper-cools tequila to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
TQLA partner Scott Lindsey, is one of approximately 40 people in the U.S. who holds the designation of certified tequilier, the tequila world’s equivalent of a sommelier and a title granted by the Academia Mexicana del Tequila, AC. Lindsey handpicks all of TQLA’s tequilas and said his job is to educate guests on the diversity of the spirit.
“We’ll do different tequila dinners, and we’ll fly in owners of different tequila companies for tastings,” he said. “We’ll really put forth an effort to educate all of our guests.”
Intrigued by his title, College Times chatted up the tequilier to pick his brain on tequila and the new restaurant opening on September 17.
College Times: What are some of the complexities and flavors that tequila has and how do you pair it with food?
Scott Lindsey: What people don’t realize is that tequila is much like wine. It comes in all different forms, different nuances, much like wine. There [are] just over 30 different flavors you can taste when you’re tasting a tequila. If you’re tasting a blanco, you get a little but more of that rawness. If you taste aged tequila, you get more of that sweetness. [Tequila distilleries] do the aging process in a couple of different ways; some use whiskey barrels, and whiskey is generally a lot sweeter than most other [liquors], like vodka. Tequila pairs well with Mexican food and southwestern food. Here we have tequilas that have different notes of sweetness, of floral, of earthy, all the way to the very smoky. So you can imagine when you’re looking at southwestern food, we use a lot of chilies – jalapeño, habanero – and so the different flavors really do pair well with the tequila. We do a couple different things at TQLA to show this, one of which is different tequila flights that you can sip and compare.
Do you think tequila gets a bad rap for its harsh morning-after effects?
When people first think about it they go, “Oh, God, spring break when I was 18 in Mexico, I drank tequila and was hung over for three days.” But, tequila has come along way. Good tequila has been around for a very long time. [A lot of] it just hasn’t been available to us in the United States. All of our tequilas are 100 percent blue agave, so they are all going to be super premium. You can have a couple of shots and still not have a headache in the morning. At the restaurant you will find that we offer tequila in a couple of different ways.
We have a tequila tap system here, which is really, really cool. I stumbled across it by accident and I fell in love with it. What it does is take tequila at room temperature and chills it down to 5 degrees fahrenheit. So, tequila will not freeze but it makes it as syrupy and as cold as you can possibly get it without adding any water to it.
Would you say that tequila has increased in popularity over the years?
Tequila is one of the world’s most popular spirits. In the US, though, that really isn’t the case – it will be number three or four. You’ll find that since we’re so close to the border here, we have a lot of Mexican nationals and so people are learning more about it and you’ll find that over the next couple of years more people will be interested in it. It’s just fun, which is what we think people like about it. Everyone’s done a wine tasting and a coffee tasting, but tequila tastings are unique and really not offered.
Usually when you drink tequila, you lick some salt, down the shot and suck on a lime. But, with all this tasting talk, is there a proper way to drink it?
You can shoot it, you can sip it. Tequila is not pretentious at all. There is not a wrong way or a right way to do it, it’s whatever you prefer. Typically if I have a tequila neat, I’m not going to have salt or a lime with it, but it’s really up to you.
What is your favorite type of tequila?
My favorite type of tequila by far is Tequila Ocho. It’s awesome tequila.