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Published: August 3rd 2008
We arrived in Guadalajara at 12 noon. Big city and very smoggy. Pieter had the idea of moving on to Tequila so we did. We found the Tequila Plus service at the Antigua Central Bus Terminal and off we went. It took close on an hour just to get out of the city again and 2 hours to get to Tequila. Towards the end of the trip we started to see lots of the pretty pale blue agave plants used to make tequila. The town of Tequila was quite tiny and we only had to walk a couple of blocks from the bus stop to find a hotel. The Hotel Posada del Agave was beautiful painted in green with the agave motif appearing on the bathroom tiles. We got a comfortable quiet back room for P$300 (US$28).
The hotel recommended a restaurant which Pieter noticed on the way from the bus stop and after a wander around the pretty town centre we went for dinner. Called El Meson de Mezcal and Don Kiko there were shelves of tequila and souvenirs for sale. On sitting down we were immediately given a free drink in a wonky blue-rimmed glass. It was tequila
and grapefruit with salt on the rim. The menu was very reasonable and the servings generous. As we finished they delivered 3 glasses containing samples of their products. When we showed interest in buying a bottle another sample appeared. We brought a bottle of rested (reposado) house tequila. It was really good it was only a half a block back to the hotel. We crossed the road carefully in our tiddled state.
The next morning, after a restful night, we returned to the restaurant for breakfast (No free booze for breakfast). We then went to the Tequila museum which was quite interesting (but no english information) with lots of photos and history and tequila bottles and shot glasses. The buildings was once a distillery as we guessed from the grinding wheel in the courtyard. There was also a hole in the ground which we didn't know what it was for at the time.
We then went across to the Jose Cuervo distillery where they did tours. There was one going at 11 am so we signed up for P$100 each. There was a P$150 version of the tour which involved more tasting but we didn't think it necessary
before noon. We waited until 11, visiting the gift shop where some tequila centred chocolates had our name on them. At 11 nothing happened, 5 past nothing happened. Pieter had to ask to get the show on the road.
It was only us. After a short video, a lovely young girl took us around the colonial distillery. It was good we were on our own because the girl was very soft spoken and the machinery noisy. Some pinas (heart of the agave plant) were waiting to go in the ovens. They were huge, up to 100 kg. They were cooked for a day or 2 and the smell of the sugars being released was of a burnt sweetness and lovely. We even got to taste the sweet juicy cooked pina. They used to cook the pinas over hots stones in the ground, explaining the hole in the ground we saw in the museum.
We passed the fermentation tanks and the distillation tanks where the result of being distilled twice was a clear 50% alcohol liquid. We got to try it, and have seconds, and it was strong and lovely. We visited the oak barrels where the reposado and
anejo versions of tequila were aged. The blanco tequila doesn't get aged, remaining clear as a result. We tried the blanco and anejo and this red drink which was a combination of orange, tomato, salt, tequila and some other stuff. Unusual but tasty. We were shown the reserva which was packaged in special designer boxes. Each year a different artist's design was selected. Because of the late start of the tour (they were waiting for some people who didn't turn up) we were taken to the cellar where we sampled the reserva from brandy glasses. Oh, it was good. Floating across the road, brandy glass still in hand, we visited an old processing plant. Like the museum there was a grinding wheel and a hole in the ground for cooking the pinas. There was a shop where we brought some lovely pottery shots.
Back across the road our tour was ended with a margarita at the bar. A young kiwi couple had done the tour an hour before us and struck up a conversation. We told them about our restaurant and we agreed to meet them there later for lunch. Abby and Joe were lovely and were not disappointed
by all the free booze and the cheap food.
Quite drunk we all rushed to the hotel (they were staying at the same place) to collect our backpacks and walked quickly, but not in a straight line, to the bus terminal where we thought the 2 pm Guadalajara would be waiting. It was there and the bus driver kindly put english subtitles on 'Indian Jones and the Last Crusade' for us. In Guadalajara Abby and Joe went off to find another bus to the coast while we stayed in Gaudalajara.
The Lonely Planet had said not to expect tequila to be flowing down the streets but figuratively it was for us. You just have to find the right restaurant and take a tour.
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