might be surprising to some that there exists a lively
interest in a beverage such as tequila, complete with
aficionados, museums, rituals for tasting, dedicated
blogs and even tequila art!
entire town located in the Mexican state of Jalisco dedicates itself to the production of this fine
libation, complete with its paraphernalia and
showcased history. One can easily get caught up in the exuberance.
living in Mexico off and on for seventeen years, we were familiar
with this clear or golden liquid, sipped straight from a
vaso by locals. There is a reverence, a respect and a
sense of pride for tequila that we simply don't find
north of the border, so Billy and I wanted to learn more. Off to
the town of Tequila we went to find the
real story of the history and process of Mexico's
would have known? A Tequila bus!
Chapala, Jalisco on the 8 o'clock directo bus (45
Pesos each person) to Guadalajara, arriving about 9 a.m.
When you arrive in Guad from Chapala, walk towards the
exit with the turnstile. The first set of buses next to
the exit is the Tequila bus line.
Tequila cost 55 Pesos per person each way for the ninety
minute to two hour trip. If you buy a round trip ticket in
Guadalajara, they will
charge 100 Pesos (thereby saving 10 Pesos per person),
and these tickets are open ended, valid for one
full year from date of purchase.
Tequila Bus line schedule
leave every half an hour to the famous town of Tequila.
The town listed just under Tequila is Amatitan, where the
Herradura distillery is located. You can see from the
above schedule that Redondo (round trip) tickets
can save you a skinny if you purchase ahead of time.
tourists take the Tequila Express which is
a fashionable manner to travel to Amtitan, 39 kilometers
from Guadalajara (it never actually arrives in the town
of Tequila.) Tickets include a tour of the Herradura
distillery, a mariachi show, snacks, lunch, and an open
bar with lots of tequila to drink. To take this diesel
locomotive with its rolling party, book ahead at
Ticketmaster. The train leaves from Guadalajara's train
station, a couple of blocks south from Parque Agave
valley town of Tequila is 50km northwest of Guadalajara,
making it an easy daytrip from the capital of Mexico's
state of Jalisco. But why not take several days and
enjoy the town itself? There's no rush, and the town is
surprisingly pleasant and clean. Take a few tours of the
local distilleries, and familiarize yourself with the
history of this
THIS is Tequila.
you come by bus like we did, the last stop in town is at
a street called Avenida Sixto de Gorjon. Just get off
the bus and head towards the Plaza, which is about a 10
minute walk. You'll find several hotels are all within
this area. When you reach the church, the
Plaza is behind it and to your left.
people in the area known today as Tequila, were
the Nahuatl. The original name the Nahuatl gave this area
loosely translated as 'where the people cut stones'.
town is located near an inactive volcano (now named Volcan Tequila) and for miles
around, the earth is filled with
Obsidian is a
naturally formed glass made when thick volcanic lava
cools down quickly. It is much harder than the man made
glass we use in windows, and is opaque. Tiny bubbles may
form while it is cooling, giving it a luster and sparkle
that has fascinated people for centuries.
The Nahuatl cut this
hard volcanic glass into sharp edged tools, carved it
into artistic forms and it was also used for personal
The very walkable town of Tequila with close by
neighborhoods and tequila haciendas
Today, Tequila has a population of around 30,000. The city
is surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of Blue Agave
planted on rolling hills that are suggestive of the
landscape of northern California. Appearing desolate yet serene,
the area seems to possess a certain mystique.
up of the Blue Agave with gentle hills in background
Tequila is made from this succulent which is related to
the lily. Contrary to the popular belief, the Blue Agave
is not a cactus. Of the 136 species of agave that grow
in Mexico, only this one, agave tequilana weber azul,
is allowed in tequila production.
Designated tequila-making Mexican states
Tequila can only be labeled as such if it is made from
the Blue Agave plant harvested from these specific
states in Mexico:
Beautiful stone arched building which houses shops,
tasting rooms and bars
Spanish took over the town in 1530, and changed the
Nahuatl name to match the Spanish pronunciation and
letter combination, calling it Tequila. Becoming a
municipality in 1824, Tequila finally became a
full-fledged city in 1974.
days popular National Tequila Fairs are held annually in
late November to December, complete with parades, rodeos, cock
fights, mariachis and fireworks. During robust festivals, you might want to stay at a hotel a little
farther from the Plaza!
Entranceway of Hotel Posada del Agave
several moderately priced hotels in the town from which to choose. This
one is located on Gorjon, a five minute walk from where
the bus dropped us off.
Only a short block and a half from main plaza, quiet from street
noise, and at 300 Pesos per night, this was a good
value. Cable TV, internet available in our room (with a
desk!), a firm bed and hot water in the clean bathroom.
Of course you
can always spend more, especially if you want water
fountains in a garden setting, a mini bar and period
Museo National del Tequila
Corona #34, this museum presents the history of the
making of tequila. Providing good photographic exhibits,
a large collection of bottles from the many distinct
styles of the local distilleries, there are explanations
of the mechanics and history of tequila, as well as good
displays of the local culture.
There is a
tequila tasting in the gift shop at the end of your self-guided tour. Certainly worth the 15 Peso admission
fee, and we recommend that you visit!
and bars, shops and bars
of the townspeople are employed by the tequila industry. There are gift shops, tasting rooms,
shops selling products of the local distilleries, tour
guides on the street, hotels, restaurants, and all the people working
in these shops and local businesses.
doesn't count the repairmen, the suppliers of food to
the restaurants, the truckers who bring in these
supplies, or those who directly work at the tequila
factories themselves like the jimadores, barrel
makers, designer bottle makers, secretaries, chemists
town was quite friendly - seemingly not jaded by tourism at all - and was
clean. We saw several
banks in town with ATMís, a couple of dentists and a
hospital located next to the Jose Cuervo Complex
trash in the streets, well maintained buildings
2003, the Mexican government named the town of Tequila a
Pueblo Magico. In 2006, it became a World
old fashioned style storefront sign
town has a sense of the ancient native
peoples, combined with Spanish Conquistadores and modern world
convenience. Every local we met, from grandma to
grandchild, storekeepers, waitresses, taco stand
operators and people passing on the sidewalk all had a
cheery buenos dias for us, were singing a tune or
had a welcoming smile. They were willing to engage in
conversation or take part in good humor.
weren't sure what to make of it, but the pleasantry was
jokingly said to each other that it must be the beverage
of tequila that was making everyone cordial. However, it
very well might have been the high rate of employment
and lack of poverty. Or the fact that people had obvious
pride in their city and the job they did within it.
Main Plaza is a 'free WiFi zone and surrounding it are more shops, benches on
sit either in the shade or sun as you prefer, some museums,
hotels and restaurants.
The church is to the right in
Obsidian, which is a volcanic glass, is everywhere here.
You can find it for
sale in the town stores and distillery gift shops, as carving
displays in hotels, even chunks of it laid in the sidewalks as
experience of obsidian has been only as fine jewelry. So
it was amazing to me to see it frequently
in tiles on the faces of homes, and as loose chunks in the road.
This place doesn't look like much
and rooms went for 350 to 500 Pesos per night. However,
they were the only hotel we found
that was fully booked.
Tequila street sign
is one of the oldest tequila making families in history.
Out of respect for all the contributions they have made
to this industry, a street has been named for them.
Fondas inside the Mercado
Mexican restaurant fare at reasonable prices can be
found inside the Mercado at any of the numerous fondas
located here. Open at 7 a.m., you may order breakfast,
lunch, dinner, soups, sandwiches, smoothies, and
Mercado is situated behind the church.
not a romantic setting, service is friendly, the place
is tidy, food is tasty and the prices are
sample menu from one of the fondas
full meal runs from 35 to 55 Pesos, about $3 to $4.50
USD. Sandwiches and light meals begin at 20 Pesos.
corner restaurant, another choice
other surroundings, you might try Cholula, which is an
upscale restaurant offering local fare as well as dishes
made with tequila. Of course the prices are two to four
times as much as in the local fondas. But there
are more exotic offerings and it is in an environment
that you might find more familiar.
short stay in Tequila didn't allow for extensive search
of large supermercados, but fresh fruits and
vegetables are available right in town in neat
and other seafood were covered in ice, laid out in
local watering hole
Upscale bars and tasting rooms abound for the tourist in
this World Heritage site, but this cantina is for
more local flavor. Chances are, the prices reflect the
native pocketbook as well. We're positive that you can
get the same beers and some very fine tequilas at Pocho.
As you may know,
Billy and I are always on the lookout for the 'perfect'
taco. In all our years of travel, it's been hard to give
that title away. These, however, came close.
the ones in
to be pretty darn good too!
At 6 Pesos each
and packed with flavor, this made for a simple meal. If
local food stands appeal to you, go behind the cathedral
any evening to locate the family run taco stalls.
Mexicans love their murals and this store on the corner
of Hildago and Navarro shows the techniques of making
pottery including designer tequila bottles.
are 911 different domestic brands of tequila, plus 158
labels used for export only. That's a lot of tequila!
case you think all tequila tastes the same, or if you
have never seen the process of barrel making or the
jimadores harvesting the tequila pina in the fields,
stay tuned for
Part II, The Tradition and History
of Tequila Production.
more stories about places of interest in Mexico,