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Tequila worth your time

By Keegan Prosser on April 29, 2013 – No Comment

Federico Ramos stands with a handful of tequila brands offered at Agave Cocina & Tequilas in Issaquah.

STORY AND PHOTO BY KEEGAN PROSSER

Federico and Julian Ramos know a lot about tequila. Which makes sense – as the brothers were raised in Jalisco, Mexico.

You see, like Champagne is to the city in France, tequila can only be called such if it’s made in the state of Jalisco. That’s why the liquor is at the heart of Agave Cocina – the pair of restaurants owned by the Ramos brothers in Issaquah and Redmond.

Each of the Agave locations offers close to 150 different types of tequila – all of which are 100 percent agave tequilas (no other alcohol has been added).

Federico says there are three main categories when talking about tequila: silver (un-aged), reposado (aged for a minimum of two months) and añejo (aged for at least a year); a sub-category, extra añejo tequilas are aged for 10 or 12 years.

Federico says tastes can vary depending on different factors: the type or age of the agave plant, what type of barrel the tequila is aged in and the age itself.

He says the sweeter, more oak-y flavor of añejos and extra añejos tends to be a favorite in the Northwest; these tequilas are more expensive because the process is longer.

Like the Agave restaurants, Matador restaurant in Redmond has a wide selection of tequila – approximately 117 varieties. Manager Luke Poysnick says their tequila options – including Don Julio, Casa Noble and Herradurra (which are also offered at Agave) – span all tequila categories.

While the majority of Matador’s offerings are 100 percent agave tequilas, Poysnick says some of them are not.

Despite the variety, both Federico and Poysnick admit most customers ask for familiar brands – like Patrón.

“A lot of people tend to go for the Patrón because it’s very well marketed,” Federico says. “But we try to drive people in different directions, as far as trying new and different tequilas.”

The mission at Matador is the same.

The Ramos’ and Poysnick believe every tequila they offer is good; they are just different from each other.

“What it boils down to,” Federico says, “is what do you like?”

At Agave, learning about different tequilas and tastes is part of the experience. As such, the Ramos brothers make sure to interact with their customers on a regular basis – sharing samples, talking about the tequilas they offer and making suggestions.

“It’s kind of like having a fine wine or a fine Scotch,” Federico says. “We try to get people to sip on tequilas. The tequilas that we have here are designed for you to sip on – not to shoot.”

Tequila shots at Agave range from $8-250; shots at Matador range $8-27. Both restaurants also offer tequila flights (prices vary), which give customers the opportunity to taste tequilas from all categories.