Through pictures by British photographer Adam Slama, explore the heady charms of the Mexican city of Tequila.
Located in a valley an hour outside of Guadalajara in the Jalisco region, Tequila is a charming, traditional Mexican town surrounded by sprawling agave fields.
As soon as you set foot in Tequila, you can feel how much influence the world-famous beverage has on this town. Tequila-tasting tours, shops filled with rows of its bottles, restaurants with local specialties cooked in tequila... The relationship between the town and the drink is clear. Around 80% of this community is rumored to live off tequila production.
Our first morning in Tequila, we are up early to head out to the agave fields. The town is surrounded in all directions by this extremely lucrative plant.
The agave harvest is the initial stage of producing tequila and is done primarily at sunrise. The succulent plant manages to grow in arid or semi-arid soils by storing water and takes from five and thirty years to reach maturity.
As the soft sun hits the fields, we are greeted by the jimadores - Mexican farmers who harvest the agave plants. These men are knowledgeable and happy to share their deep understanding of the plant and how they harvest it with skills passed on from generation to generation. One of the jimadores, named Antonio, has been working the fields for 30 years, since he was seven years old. It is all he knows and deep calluses on his hands tell the story of many years of hard work.
The second half of the morning, we are taken on a tour of the distilleries and shown the rest of the tequila production process. The long, sharp leaves are cut away from the tequila plant, leaving only the “agave pineapple”. This bulky core is cooked in ovens and are crushed and mixed with water in large copper kettles. It is then left to ferment for a week or more. Then, it's time for distillation and the tequila is stored in barrels for a period of time, ranging from weeks to years.
Our morning is well spent in the agave fields and lunch is next on the agenda. We head into town to taste some local delicacies. By chance, we find the local food hall, which is filled entirely by locals from the town enjoying all kinds of different dishes. I decide to inquire to see how some of these dishes are made. To no surprise, I quickly learn that most are cooked in the local liquor, tequila.
Come early evening, we try out some of the wonderful hotel bars, the most popular being the rooftop bar at Hotel Solar de Las Animas, a vantage point offering stunning panoramic views of the entire town. The most beautiful of all is the view of the town's majestic church and surrounding mountains at sunset. To complement this inimitable location, the plunge pool is much-welcome for cooling off and enjoying the views. A couple of cocktails later (all made with local tequila of course) and we are now more than excited for our tequila tasting tomorrow.
It is Saturday and we head into town first thing. As the day warms up, so does the town. On Saturdays, Tequila offers a fun vibe with lots of groups of friends singing and dancing to local bands. They play traditional Mexican hits, everyone knows the words and sings along joyfully.
After taking in the atmosphere of the town, we are ready for the tequila tasting. We are taken into a private room with several different types of tequila at the ready. My knowledge at this stage goes as far as salt, shot, lime. We go on to learn this isn’t how it should be drunk. We discover how to drink and appreciate the spirit correctly: Take a deep breath before you taste, appreciate the aromas of the tequila in your mouth, swallow, then exhale through the mouth.
We head back to the hotel to enjoy dinner on the terrace and a beautiful Tequila sunset. Having traveled much of Mexico, Hotel Solar de las Animas offers an authentic Mexican experience. Tequila is full of warmth, color, good vibes, and friendly locals. A must-visit on any trip to Mexico.