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TEQUILA

Tequila is a blue-agave-based spirit made primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 65 kilometres (40 mi) northwest of Guadalajara, and in the highlands (Los Altos) of the western Mexican state of Jalisco. There are various legends as to the history of tequila, according one of which, thanks to divine providence, the Toltec tribe discovered a magic drink and its wonderful properties. Mexican Indians could not imagine what force was hidden in the blue agave (a huge plant, resembling a pineapple, or a big pine cone with two-meter thorns). Once, during a severe thunderstorm, the lightning struck an agave, splitting it in two. As a result, unknown frothing nectar came about, turning into foaming beverage of creamery colour. Aztecs made a drink of a fermented agave, called octli, which later was named pulke. This beverage played such an important role in the life of Indians, that even the god, the Plumed Serpent Quetzalcoatl, had a strong liking for this drink. Aztecs identified the agave, the mother of pulke, with goddess Majjaueel who had 400 breasts and 400 children, the most important of which was Ometochtli - the god of pulke. Indians considered this beverage to be "the root and the reason of all troubles and evils", and it was allowed to drink it only once in four years, on a festivity in honour of the God of Fire. Otherwise, drinking pulke was the privilege granted to old men and the sick only. Pulke became the forefather of modern-day tequila. For a long time pulke was the only alcoholic beverage in Mexico. However, everything changed in 1521, with the arrival of Spanish conquistadors who with them brought the technology of distillation. They started distilling tequila in the 16th century, near Tequila city, which was officially founded in 1656. When at the Spanish conquistadors ran out of their own brandy, they started the agave distillation to make the first primordial North American alcoholic beverage ("mescal") without sugar addition. The beverage had crude taste and rich aroma. However, the most interesting thing about mescal was the worm in its bottle, which, according to the tradition was to be eaten after the beverage was consumed. And although it was soaked in alcohol to such an extent that it could not bring any harm to anyone, very few people wished to try it. Mescal became the senior relative of tequila. Some 80 years later, around 1600, Don Pedro Sanchez de Tagle, the Marquis of Altamira, began mass-producing tequila at the first factory in the territory of modern-day Jalisco. By 1608, the colonial governor of Nueva Galicia had begun to tax his products. In the 18th century tequila became the most important export product, the distillation of which was supervised by the Spanish King. Having witnessed the recognition of tequila in America, its distillers expanded the exports of this beverage to Europe. Shortly before this, there came about a clear distinction between mescal and tequila: just as the real champagne is made only in the province of Champagne, only the mescal distilled according to a special technology in Jalisco, in the outskirts of Tequila city was granted the right to be called “tequila. There are two versions concerning the origin of the name “tequila”. Tequila may have borrowed its name from Tequila city, where, in 1900th a more efficient, modern way of mescal distillation was invented. Or tequila may have been invented by Tequila people who mastered the art of distillation long before the arrival of Spanish conquistadores. Tequila gained its genuine popularity in 1968, at Olympic Games in Mexico City. In 1974 Mexican manufacturers were granted the exclusive right on the use of "tequila" brand all over the world. Since then the popularity of tequila has grown day by day: the drink associates with cheerful pastime and good mood, while the phrase “ lick -overturn-bite”, is unanimously understood all over the world. However, rituals of tequila drinking are not popular in Mexico at all: in general, Mexicans prefer cheaper mescal, and in mountainous areas of the country pulke still retains the privilege of being the number one beverage.