Cocktail Culture



Photograph by Sabin Orr

By Grace Bascos

Unmasking the misconceptions.

Tequila isn’t just for shots and margaritas anymore. Not that those libations aren’t fun, but there are so many more ways to appreciate the spirit born in Jalisco, Mexico. You’ll find some of the best tequila lists here on the Las Vegas Strip: From creative cocktails to aged añejos to, yes—even margaritas—we’ve tracked down our favorites.

Chayo Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar at The LINQ keeps a concise and well-curated tequila list. Some of the more interesting infused varieties get special treatment. The popular Puncho Villa is a spicy and refreshing mix of Tanteo jalapeño tequila,
fresh lime, watermelon, cucumber and mint. Other tequila selections are used as a base for fun, fruity drinks including the brightly colored Señorita which features Cazadores Silver, fresh lime and strawberries, and is then topped with bubbly moscato.

But not all tequilas have to be incorporated into a cocktail, explains Chayo bar manager Cary Mano. “For a sipping tequila, añejos are the way to go.” Añejos, aged in oak barrels for at least a year, but less than three years, are changing the spirit’s public perception. “Now you get the whiskey and scotch drinkers trying tequila because it has those barrel tastes.”

The tequila game is also strong at Mesa Grill in Caesars Palace, thanks to chef Bobby Flay’s dedication to the spirit as an accompaniment to his boldly flavored cuisine. While his pink-hued Cactus Pear and classic namesake margaritas are high on the pre-dinner list, after-dinner offerings get more interesting, with a special selection of aged tequilas. From the extra añejo, Jose Cuervo “Reserva de la Familia,” to the elegant Gran Patrón Burdeos, these beauties are to be sipped, not slammed back with lime and salt.

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