La Gonzaleña is still one of only two tequila distilleries operating outside the state of Jalisco. Gonzalez named his new tequila Chinaco, after a band of wealthy 19th-century landowners who supported Mexico during the War of Reform. Gonzalez's grandfather, Manuel, had in fact been a chinaco and was later president of Mexico. The racy, dense Chinaco Reposado is lush and spiced with pepper and earth notes.

JOSE CUERVO RESERVA DE LA FAMILIA ($100)


Here's some fascinating trivia: Jose Cuervo is the oldest company in Mexico, dating back to 1795. Cuervo is Spanish for "crow," so Jose Cuervo began labeling the first commercial barrels of his tequila with the crow symbol, a useful identifying trademark for those who couldn't read. The original distillery, known as La Rojeña, is still in the hands of Cuervo family descendants.

Cuervo's tequilas have been imported north of the border since 1873, when the first three barrels from La Rojeña arrived in El Paso, Texas, bound for New Mexico. The Reserva de la Familia was originally made only for the consumption of the Cuervo family and their guests, but the stuff was just too good not to share with the world. Each year, Cuervo bottles a limited amount in hand-numbered, wax-sealed bottles, which come packed in artist-designed boxes. This dark amber añejo is a sipping tequila with toasty, sweet, smoky
flavors and a rich, intense finish.

PATRÓN SILVER ($40)


In spite of the popularity of reposado ("rested") and añejo ("aged") tequilas, many aficionados actually prefer younger silver tequila. Why? Because silver tequila retains much more of the fresh, vibrant taste of agave, unobscured by oak. Silver is my own preference for most tequila cocktails, especially ones like the margarita, which involves citrus flavors.