What is the Best Substitute for Tequila?

by Charlie

Tequila is an agave-based spirit and is most likely one of the strongest agave-based liquors. Tequila is popular in Mexico. While the drink can be enjoyed raw in the company of friends, it is also useful as a kitchen essential.

Tequila adds a particular distinct taste to recipes. And asides the taste, its effect on other ingredients is another reason it is an awesome ingredient. Although it adds beauty and spice in taste and texture of the meal, for different reasons some chefs and even food consumers prefer the use of tequila substitutes that give the same effect as tequila while leaving out some features.

What is the best substitute for Tequila? Only the famous mezcal will measure up as the best substitute for Tequila. Mezcal is also an alcohol that is produced from a variety of distilled agaves. The alcohol content in Mezcal is not as high as those of Tequila. So, it gives a good balance for consumers who want the taste of tequila but want to avoid the high alcohol level that comes with it.

An Overview of Tequila

Tequila is a vodka produced only in Mexico. It is produced from the distillation process of the blue agave plant.

There are two categorizations of tequila. and the categories are based on the content and level of alcoholic properties in the drink. The first categorization is the Mixtos. The Mixtos is an hybrid version of Tequila. It consists of 51% of agave and a good mix of fructose and glucose sugars consisting the 49% of the remainder. Meanwhile, the second categorization is the 100% agave. The latter is the real, unmixed tequila. It is 100% agave with a higher level of alcoholic properties.

Asides this categorization, tequila exists in four other types depending on the aging period.

The Blanco is the first type of tequila. The white spirit, is bottled immediately after the distillation process. Sometimes it can be left in a stainless steel for two months.

Another type is the Reprosado. The Reprosado is made to rest for a minimum of two months and maximum of one year before being consumed. They are stored in oak barrels.

Añejo is the second most aged tequila. It doesn’t get sold until it has been stored for at least one year, but not more than three years. The Extra Añejo is the ultra aged. It is stored for a minimum of three years before being consumed.

These different types of tequila exist in forms of 100% agave tequila and Mixtos. The blanco 100% agave tequila, is the harshest of the pack. Its flavors are bold and strong. While the reposado and añejo 100% agave tequila are less harsh and complex. 

Generally, tequila tastes of the woods. The taste is better felt and distinguishable in the 100% agave tequila because of its basal material.

Why Substitute Tequila?

  • No tequila available: When you run out of tequila and you urgently need to make your meal, you will definitely need a substitute for the spirit.  
  • Avoiding the strong alcohol base: If you fall into the category of people who love the effect that tequila makes in recipes but cannot stand its alcoholic property then you might want a substitute that gives the same effects but lacks alcohol.
  • You want a less powerful spirit: You are fine with having an alcohol based spirit in your recipe but tequila is just too strong for the delicate flavors in the meal you are making. And as such is not an option for you. If that’s the case then a substitute is your next best option. 

Options for Tequila Substitutes

Top Recommended Substitute for Tequila: Mezcal

Mezcal is an agave-based alternative to Tequila. Many other alternatives are also alcoholic and Agave-based while some others aren’t.

Agave-based Substitutes

Mezcal

Mezcal is a spirit just like tequila. It is produced from the distillation of fermented varieties of agave like Espadin, Tobala and Madre Cuixtle. It has a smoky effect which is gotten from roasting the heart of the plant. After being crushed, it is left to ferment with water in a barrel. After fermentation, the drink is distilled then bottled for as long as is intended. 

The spirit is the closest substitute to tequila. It is only a milder version of Tequila.

Pulque

Pulque is an agave based spirit. It is produced from the raw sap that is gotten from the heart of the agave plant; the aguamiel. The pulque is sometimes called the honey water. It doesn’t go through the distillation process, it is extracted and the fermented.

It is lower in alcoholic properties when compared to tequila. It is not white and crystal and as such cannot make for a substitution in a recipe where color is considered important. It has a milky texture and look and a yeast-like taste.

Non-Agave based substitutes

Cactus juice or Nectar

If you are making a Southwestern kind of marinade with your recipe then you can replicate the taste that tequila gives with Cactus juice or the nectar. It is another non-alcoholic substitute.

Lime

Lime can be used alongside tequila to reduce the alcohol properties in the spirit or used as a complete replacement. If you do not want the alcohol base in your recipe then lime is your go-to. A squirt or two of lime will give your recipe the needed sourness effect. Note that if your recipe already has lime you can as well just take out the tequila without any replacement.  

White vinegar

White vinegar also has a strong alcohol base and sourness. It can be used as a substitute in marinades. It bears the same taste and his the same color effect. It is one of the most efficient substitute options.

The substitution ratio should be 1 tsp of tequila to 1 tbsp of white vinegar. Just a little difference in quantity is required. 

Note that it is white vinegar not just any type of vinegar.

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