Downed—or Drowned? Neither.

Casa Mexico's founder reveals how to enjoy tequila the best way—all by itself.

Authored by Susan Fornoff

Photo by Rachel Adams

Denver is becoming second casa to a small tequila house out of the highlands of Jalisco. Casa Mexico founder Eric Buccio zeroed in on us because, he says, “Here, people are very educated about craft beer and spirits and different types of processes.” Tequila tends to be either drowned (in syrupy margarita mixers) or downed (as bachelorette party shooters). Here in Denver, Buccio has found an increasing appreciation for the true taste of the drink. We asked him for some guidance.

What’s the difference between good tequila and bad tequila?

In a word: headache. “There’s 100 percent blue agave tequila like ours, made from the best plant to make tequila, grown for eight years. The bad tequilas use whatever they can get. They also use water a lot. And they add color to make it look more aged. If your tequila looks too dark, they’re probably using sweeteners and you’re going to have a headache the next day.”

What’s the difference between the silver, reposado, and anejo?

Age. “Silver is no aging; reposado is one year; the anejo is two years. If you like vodka, try the silver. If you go for mixed drinks, try the reposado. If you like scotch, the anejo is for you.”

- Advertisement -

How should I taste tequila?

By itself. “Never use lime and salt, unless you want to mask the burn from bad tequila. Savor good tequila: Keep some in your mouth, taste, do it three times, and you’ll get a feel for it.” Curious where a tequila is from? Plug the “nom” on the bottle into

How should I serve tequila?

Chill it first. “Here at altitude, freeze it up a bit and air it out to bring the toxins down. Or maybe serve it on a little bit of rocks. Never do tequila warm. Ever.”

Is it a waste to use good tequila in a margarita?

Buccio had mixed feelings when Casa Mexico’s 10-year-old anejo won a margarita contest. “It took so long to produce, you don’t want to mask it. But if you’re using fresh lime juice and quality agave, it’s worth paying $5 more for a premium tequila that’s not going to give you a hangover.”

Make your own Mexican mojito…

Here’s a twist on a mojito from Roy Castro and Butch Buckley, bartenders at the rooftop bar 54thirty, now open for the summer at Le Meridien Denver Downtown. (It’s not on the menu, but they’ll mix you one if you ask.)

1 1/2 oz. Casa Mexico Reposado
1/2 oz. Ancho Reyes Poblano liquor
1/4 oz. lime juice
Lime bitters
Splash of ginger beer

Add first four ingredients to a shaker. Shake and strain over ice into a rocks glass. Add ginger beer and garnish with a lime.