Tequilas sold in The Market at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

I was lost, but now I’m found. Lost in a murky, all-is-acceptable-when-it-comes-to-drinking-tequila-sort-of-a-way. But now my cup runneth over with knowledge. I credit Javier Moreno, the charming sommelier at the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun resort (located on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula). Javier conducted a tequila tasting seminar for a few guests of the resort and, like the resort itself, the seminar couldn’t be better. Nor could the tequilas that we sipped and sampled in the tasting. (Thank you Javier). 

In the spirit of generosity, here are takeaways from the classy class. Of course, you’ll have to provide your own tequila for tasting, or even better (much much much better), get yourself to Grand Residences Riviera Cancun and do your tasting surrounded by resort glory.

Villas at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

Javier says: 

1. Tequila is distilled from the juice of blue agave plants. 

2. The best tequila comes in bottles labeled “100% de agave” or “100% Puro De Agave Azul.” Labels stating just “tequila” contain a mix of agave and various sugars. Check labels. Buy and drink 100 percent blue agave tequila. 

3. Tequilas are classified according to age. Blanco is not aged or aged only up to two months. Reposado is barrel aged, but not more that a year. Añejo sits in a barrel for at least a year, but no more than three years. Extra Añejo describes tequila aged three years or more. Tequila takes on color, flavor, smoothness and price as it ages. 

4. Some people drink shots in 2-ounce “caballito” glasses. Not Javier. He is picky picky picky about glasses and about shots. He claims that glasses for tasting superior tequilas should be as finely crafted as good wine glasses and brandy snifters. High-quality tequilas are best appreciated when slowly sipped from glasses large enough to allow fragrances to be released and flavors to unfold. 

5. As to shots with salt and lime. No. No. NO. Tequila aficionados don’t go the shot/salt/lime route.

6. Steps to tasting prime tequila: Pour a small amount of tequila into an appropriate large and finely made glass. Notice the color of the tequila by holding the glass over a white background. Tip the glass and notice the “tears” or legs; If the tears are slow to dissipate, the alcohol level is high. Swirl the tequila in the glass. Then sniff, first at one edge of the glass, then in the center, and then above. Take your time. Take a sip. Swish a bit in the mouth. Swallow. Take a breath. Try another sip for a more developed flavor. 

Javier Moreno sniffing, sipping, smiling.

7. Don’t drink too fast. 

8. Don’t drink too much. 

9. As to Mezcal—being made from the agave plant, all tequilas are mezcals, but not all mezcals are tequilas. Confusing huh? Unlike tequila, mezcals are made from a variety of agave plants and have distinct smoky flavor due to the processing method of roasting in pit ovens.

10. Blanco tequilas are fine to use in mixed drinks being inexpensive and sporting a strong agave flavor. Which brings us (at last and never least) to the ever-popular margarita. Javier says that he favors the habanero margarita, so I scored Grand Residences’s recipe for you. 

Word of warning, habaneros are a very hot variety of chili pepper. To tame the heat, Grand Residences seeps the peppers in simple syrup to make habanero margaritas.


Yield: one serving.

2 lime wedges, divided

Tajín  (a seasoning mix of chili peppers, salt and dehydrated lime juice) (See NOTE)

2 ounces blanco tequila

1 ounce fresh lime juice

1 ounce triple sec or other orange-flavored liqueur

1 ounce habanero simple syrup (recipe follows)

Rub one of the lime wedges around the rim of a rocks glass. Put tajín in a small bowl and dip rim of glass in the tajín to coat rim. Shake off excess Tajín.  Fill glass with ice.

Put tequila, lime juice, triple sec and habanero syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into prepared glass. Garnish with remaining lime wedge.


1 cup sugar

1 cup water 

2 habaneros, each halved

Put ingredients in a small saucepan and set over low heat. Cook and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Set saucepan aside to cool. Strain syrup into a jar, removing habanero pieces. Cover jar and refrigerate until ready to use.







To make a tequila mojito margarita, click HERE.

To make tequila infusions for flavored margaritas, click HERE

To make a Loopy Lu with mango-flavored tequila, click HERE