The Globe & Mail, 2005 Tequila deserves equal shelf space with vodka -- now that the best connoisseur brands this side of the Rio Grande are found in Vancouver's hi-end saloons and cantinas. Cuervo shooters and instant-mix margaritas are passé. Instead, super-premium tequilas should be sipped neat without ice, salt or lime, and at room temperature.
Unfortunately, due to a shortage of the blue agave plant from which tequila is made, Mexico's national beverage is priced in the stratosphere now populated by the likes of Grey Goose and Ultra Vox vodka. Several natural disasters to the plant in the late '90s were to blame but the main reason is that demand outweighs supply. Understandable considering that the plant takes about 10 years to grow to the proper cutting size.
Although Mexican restaurant pickings are slim in Vancouver, Las Margaritas (1999 West 4th Avenue, 604-734-7117) is the hitching post for tequila aficionados. LM serves two dozen varieties, including Cabo Wabo Reposado. Herradura Reposada, an all-natural tequila, is guaranteed minimal hangover. Both are served naked but customers can request ice and lime on the side.
For high-rollers, Penca Azul, at $26 an ounce, is the cognac of tequila at Opus Bar (322 Davie St., 604-642-6787). Special ordered from California, at $300 a bottle, this one should be sipped from a snifter. The more budget-conscious can settle for an 1800 reposado (translation: rested) passionfruit or blood orange margarita, shaken and stirred.
At Ginger Sixty-Two (1219 Granville Street, 604-688-5494) Corralejo, a smooth, gold reposado, is served straight up in a rocks glass. Or try the rougher (but preferred by some) Olmeka. Must try: margarita with fresh grapefruit juice.
And finally, there's no need for a jetplane to Sammy Hager's Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas to taste Cabo Wabo tequila. AFTERglow (1079 Mainland Street, 604-602-0835) serves this 100% weber blue agave (the agave used to make the best tequila) which is rated one of the top three tequilas in the world.
As for the worm - it's an urban legend. And tequila doesn't come from a cactus -- it's part of the lily family.