Q&A: Hilda Castillo, Tequila Ambassador

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What, exactly, is a Tequila Ambassador? A Tequila Ambassador is a tequila expert certified by the Mexican Academy of Tequila. In addition to that, I’m from Tequila, Mexico, and I proudly share my traditions, culture, and everything related to this amazing spirit with our guests at La Cava Del Tequila.

What’s your personal favorite tequila cocktail (and why is it a standout)?I personally enjoy my tequila by itself, but our Mexican Mule is a great cocktail—the combination of tequila and ginger pair very well together.

We all love a margarita with chips and salsa, but what do you pair with smoky mezcal on the rocks?For the smokiness of mezcal, we should choose a strong flavor to balance out the powerful taste of the spirit. My recommendation is chipotle salsa, empanadas with chile verde salsa, or ceviche with orange juice as the base.

How many tequilas are behind the bar at La Cava Del Tequila?We have around 100 tequilas and all of them are made with 100% agave.

What is the biggest misconception about tequila? According to my experience, there’s still the confusion between tequila and mezcal. Many people believe they are the same spirit, when, in actuality, they have different flavor profiles.

So, what about the worm?Some people think the worm (gusano) in the bottle started as a marketing tool to get people to drink more mezcal in the 1940s and 1950s. Others actually put gusano into a bottle of finished mezcal to change the flavor of the spirit.

What’s the best sipping tequila? Any tequila made with 100% agave can be considered a great sipping tequila.

What’s the story behind the horn you’re wearing in the photo?   Back in the old days, only the wealthy, including farm and house owners, could drink tequila. They would wear a horn, known as a caballito, around their neck, and the workers would ask the purpose behind them. The common response was “to give a drink of water to their horses,” but it was truly to carry tequila. This story is the origin of the tequila shot. The caballito, which translates to “little horse,” has become the most common term for a shot of tequila in Mexico. Today, wearing the caballito is of great significance for a tequila expert. It has come to represent one’s knowledge of tequila and skill to recognize the quality of every tequila through use of the five senses.

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