The succulent agave, a spikey, self-sufficient plant, seemingly eternal, was given its name by the founder of modern botany (phylum, genus, variety, etc.), the great Swedish scientist Carlos Linnaeus. Noble and brilliant it is. But for centuries it was known in Mezo-America for its value as a source of carbohydrates and fiber. Its leaves were but protection for its live-giving heart: food, building materials, medicine. The flesh could be fermented into a beer-like beverage called pulque, and, after the 16th century Spanish conquistadors brought the knowledge of Moorish alembics, the distillation of what we now call tequila.
(The Moors were teetotalers, and distilled only perfumes and incense; the Dutch, on the other hand, caught on quickly and turned the poorly fermented grape juice from their French and German neighbors into Brandtwein.)
At any rate, says tequila guru Clayton Szczeck, it didn't take long for the simple technology to spread throughout the Mezo-American countryside. The best, distilled from Weber blue agave, is what we drink today as Tequila, the process being supervised and regulated, of course, and in the end recognized with a "denomination of origin" like Champagne, Bourbon or Roquefort cheese, the origin in this case being Jalisco. There's a lesser spirit (there's always a lesser spirit, it seems) called Mezcal, a catch-all name for Mexican hooch that doesn't qualify.
Okay, now that you know all that, it's time to party!
The second annual Northwest Tequila Fest takes place from 4 to 9 PM on Saturday, August 24 at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, 6532 Phinney Avenue N. Over 130 tequilas and mezcals from more than 40 producers. Four bands. Food, too, from Poquitos, Little Water Cantina, Agave Cocina & Tequila and Calle Tacos & Tequila. The event is a fundraiser for the Seattle Benevolent Guild, a local non-profit.
Tickets are $40-$125 and include tequila tasting tokens. Additional tokens can be purchased online or onsite.