It’s Cinco de Mayo and for this first time in what seems like forever, we can finally unwind a little and, hopefully, mix up a couple tequila drinks. In years past, we’ve headed to our nearest or favorite (often the same place) cantina and swigged down whatever seemed most colorful or easiest to get our hands on. This time around, however, we’ve decided to ask the experts from Gran Centenario Tequila to guide us on how to celebrate Cinco De Mayo 2021.
We sat down with Gran Centenario brand ambassador Roberto Rosa, who took us through some of his favorite cocktails, guided us on pairings, and, in general, just steered us in the right direction for the best Cinco de Mayo celebration yet.
Spirited Zine: Just to get started, can you tell me about the first Cinco de Mayo you remember and the way that experience impacts the way you approach Cinco de Mayo now as someone so ingrained in the Tequila world?
Roberto Rosa: Much like Gran Centenario, which brings family and friends together and celebrates tradition and heritage, the first Cinco de Mayo I remember was filled with the same things. It was from there that I realized and came to appreciate tequila and the family-owned brand that is Gran Centenario. It transcends time, and as Gran Centenario is known for its exceptional quality and taste, Cinco de Mayo celebrates these same characteristics seen in Mexican culture and tradition.
Spirited Zine: For those of us who are unaware, can you tell us about where Gran Centenario gets its agave and how the terroir can be found in the flavors and aromas of the Tequilas?
RR: Gran Centenario is handcrafted in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. Highlands tequilas have more fruit, floral, and citrus characteristics, as compared to lowlands tequilas, which tend to be more earthy and herbal.
Gran Centenario was founded in 1857 by Lazaro Gallardo, the first ever Tequila Master Distiller and still to this day uses a 150-year-old propriety process called Selección Suave. This is a technique that blends the richest and smoothest tequilas to yield a product of exceptional quality and taste.
SZ: What kind of fermentation process does Gran Centenario use?
RR: The creation of our tequilas begins by carefully selecting and harvesting the finest quality Tequilana Weber Blue Agaves. Expert Jimadores handpick the agaves that have reached full maturity to ensure they have the best physical characteristics and sugar content needed to meet required standards. The hearts of the agaves are then cooked in traditional masonry furnaces before extracting the juices for fermentation.
The final step is our proprietary Selección Suave, resulting in the smooth, yet complex profile, which characterizes the Gran Centenario portfolio.
SZ: Gran Centenario produces four expressions. Can you take us through the aging process used for your Reposado, Anejo, Plata and Leyenda?
RR: All of Gran Centenario tequilas spend time in American oak for varying amounts of time – each resulting in a slightly different taste profile. Gran Centenario Plata is rested in American oak for up to 7 weeks, while Reposado is rested in new oak for 4 months, and Añejo is aged in new oak for 16 months.
Leyenda is a rare and special Extra Añejo tequila, twice distilled and aged for an average of 4 years in new American oak barrels. Once aged, it is married with older, handpicked reserves for richness and complexity. This results in an ultra-smooth tequila of unparalleled flavor and character.
SZ: How do you recommend enjoying each of these four different Tequilas?
RR: The exceptional quality and taste of all Gran Centenario tequilas make them perfect neat, on the rocks or in any classic cocktail, such as the margarita. I like to drink my tequilas neat, especially the Añejo, and I tend to sip them in a traditional tequila flute – which really opens up the aromas and brings out all of the rich flavors. If you prefer not to sip your spirits neat, the fruity notes of our Plata and the smooth, yet complex flavor profile of our Reposado, work well with spring and summer cocktails.
Gran Centenario Leyenda is a special blend that we always recommend enjoying neat, to fully appreciate its flavor and complexity.
SZ: Do you have any recommendations when it comes to using the tequilas in various cocktails? Can you give us some recipes?
RR: Here are a couple of my favorites!
8 oz Gran Centenario Plata Tequila
2.5 oz Orange Liqueur
2 Mangos (peeled, diced, & blended)
2 Oranges (juiced)
2 Limes (juiced)
Garnish: Lime Wedge
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain over fresh ice into a salt-rimmed rocks glass. Garnish with lime wedge.
Recipe serves 4, which means it’s perfect for sharing with friends and family this Cinco de Mayo!
1.5 oz Gran Centenario Reposado Tequila
3 oz Mexican Cola
½ oz Fresh Lime Juice
Garnish: Salt Rim and Lime Wedge
Moisten the outer rim of a chilled collins glass with the lime wedge and coat lightly with salt. Fill glass with ice. Add the tequila and lime juice and then top with cola and give a quick stir. Garnish with lime.
SZ: What foods would you pair with each expression?
RR: When pairing dishes with tequila, it’s important to ensure the ingredients in the food highlight the tasting notes in the different tequilas.
Given the lighter, sweeter notes, Gran Centenario Plata pairs best with ceviches, fresh fruits (pineapple, mango, passionfruit) or a light salad. For Gran Centenario Reposado, you want to highlight the spicier notes of the liquid and pair with something that equally has a bit of spice to it, like a chorizo taco, or lighter cuts of meat. Gran Centenario Añejo goes well with bold, hearty flavors – such as steak, chocolate dessert, or coffee.
SZ: When it comes to celebrating Cinco de Mayo, what is often overlooked, but we should not miss out on?
RR: A common misconception around Cinco de Mayo is that it celebrates Mexico’s independence, when in fact, it is a celebration to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862.
SZ: How should we celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year?
RR: With Mexico’s #1 tequila, with Gran Centenario, of course! All of our tequilas are perfect for enjoying with family and friends to celebrate any occasion. ¡Salud!
For more information on the tequila, head over to the Gran Centenario’s official website.