Think tequila and you probably think of shots. But mixologist Brian Van Flandern, Don Julio global ambassador, helps to dispel those stereotypes.

Tequila is distilled from the Weber blue agave plant, which is a member of the lily family. “It is not a cactus as many people think — it’s actually closer to aloe vera,” Van Flandern says.

2. When selecting the highest quality tequila, look for the words “100 percent agave” on the label — by law, this style of tequila may only use agave in the final product, Van Flandern explains. Other styles may supplement the tequila with sugars and alcohol distillates, resulting in a product that is of lesser quality.

3. The four major categories of tequila are blanco, reposado, anejo and extra anejo. This refers to the amount of time the tequila was aged in oak barrels, which affects the flavor profile. “Generally speaking, the longer the tequila is aged, the smoother it becomes,” Van Flandern says.

Tequila cocktails go beyond just the margarita. While that drink is one of the most popular cocktails in the U.S., Van Flandern, who recently served as the head mixologist at Per Se restaurant, says tequila can be used in anything from a classic sidecar to a modified mojito.

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