With its world-renowned reputation for providing good times, we sometimes forget that tequila has an extremely rich and authentic history.
Just as champagne can only hail from the Champagne region of France, tequila isn’t tequila unless it hails from one of five different Mexican states, thanks to an official decree. Here, a native plant known as the Tequiliana Weber Blue agave flourishes.
It’s hardly surprising that the blue agave is often mistaken for a cactus, given that it is extremely pointy. The blue agave is just one of many types of agave plants, but only the blue agave can provide the flavor of the spirit that eventually becomes tequila.
For countless centuries, the heart of the blue agave plant was fermented by Indians to make a sweet alcoholic brew known as pulque. After the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, they adapted the Indian trick and began brewing their own alcoholic version out of the agave, which makes a form of tequila the oldest surviving spirit of the New World.
The first licensed distillery began around 1600, and the drink continued to evolve over the centuries, until it was commercially exported to the United States in the 1880s.
The plants are carefully harvested over the years by highly trained jimadores. After harvesting, the precious liquid is extracted by crushing the “heart,” or pina of the plant. The liquid is allowed to ferment over several days. Following this, the result is distilled once or twice. The precious liquid then “rests” in smoked whiskey and scotch oak barrels imported from the United States and Europe. The length of time the tequila ages determines its nomenclature. Blanco is almost immediately bottled. The other extreme is Extra Anejo, which must remain at rest for a minimum of three years.
At Iron Cactus, we warmly embrace the lively world of tequila. We alone serve over 100 varieties of this original New World brew at our nationally-ranked Margarita Bar. Come sample from this extensive collection during our Tequila Tour at our North Austin location at 10001 Stonelake Boulevard on Thursday, September 20 beginning at 6pm. Live music and hors d’oeuvres will be enjoyed. You can purchase tickets in advance online and save here. Join us, as we celebrate this ancient brew in our uniquely authentic way.
Fajitas have grown from obscure, South Texas roots to become a beloved mainstay of Mexican cooking. The history of fajitas, while somewhat blurred, belongs to the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and northern Mexico, where skirt steak was often used as payment to vaqueros (Spanish for “cowboys”). The vaqueros soon became adept at marinating the steak and devouring its various, tasty forms.
The mainstream popularity of fajitas truly began in the 70s as restaurants and concession stands in South Texas awakened the cowboy tradition by grilling skirt steak on sizzling platters and serving them with flour tortillas. Soon, thanks to some very satisfied and loyal customers, their popularity exploded. Ingredients quickly grew to include guacamole, grated cheese and pico de gallo, a combination of fresh onions, tomatoes, peppers and cilantro.
The tradition of delivering them to the table on a sizzling platter certainly did nothing to inhibit their popularity. Many customers can readily attest that it is hard to resist the delectable smell of sizzling, flavorful steak as it passes by your table.
Soon enough, they became a staple at Mexican restaurants across the state, with many variations on this simple dish.
At Iron Cactus, we appreciate the authentic roots of fajitas and have added our signature unique blends of flavors to create our own interpretation, including such evocative dishes as Tequila Marinated Chicken Breast, Tequila Adobo Marinated Shrimp, an unforgettable steak and chicken combination, and the Achiote Marinated Pork Carnitas. Be sure to come and try one of these delightful dishes for yourself. You will be keeping an authentic tradition alive while delighting your taste buds.
Tequila. Oh, how we love our tequila. Sometimes a bit too much, but with over 100 types to sample in our Agave Room, there’s a lot to love. With that said, it’s best to get to know them a bit first, so here’s a quick guide to the five basic categories of tequila.
Blanco/Plata (white/silver) – Bottled straight after distillation or after sitting in neutral oak or stainless steel barrels for up to two months, this tequila is the most neutrally flavored of the five categories.
Reposado (rested) – After a solid nap in an oak barrel for up to a year, reposado tequilas are not so much “aged” as they are “rested-up and ready for anything.”
Joven (young) – Joven tequilas are the offspring of reposado and blanco tequilas, so they’re literally born for mixing.
Añejo (aged/vintage) – There’s plenty of wisdom to be found in a bottle of añejo. This tequila bides its time in an oak barrel for up to three years, absorbing the worldly flavors of the ancients.
Extra Añejo – The granddaddy of tequilas. Extra añejo tequilas slosh around in oak barrels for at least 3 years, reaching heights of enlightenment that a newborn blanco couldn’t begin to comprehend.
Aged tequilas made with 100 percent agave tend to be mellower and more complex, like a wizened old hippy with a dark past. Younger tequilas like the blanco and joven are often a bit harsher and are best enjoyed mixed into something sweeter.
So there you have it. Each tequila has something to love and is precious and unique in its own way. Stop by the Agave Room sometime and get to know one or a hundred.
Ever dreamed about being marginally famous? Now’s your chance! Iron Cactus is doing a commercial and we’re asking for your help. Yes, you, reading this blog. If you’re reading this post, you’re worthy of a starring role!
Just like our food, we’re trying something a little different. Iron Cactus is a unique dining experience that attracts unique people like yourself – people passionate about our food. That’s kind of our thing. Well…that, and tequila. Oh…and our happy hour…you get the point. So, we wondered, why not celebrate these unique people by putting them in our commercial?
This is where you, reader and presumed eater/drinker, come in. Come into any Iron Cactus with your friends and enjoy your favorite food and drinks, as per usual. This time, though, record it. Take pictures or get it on video, the weirder, happier and more delicious, the better. Go nuts, whatever you want. Then email us your collected works of art at BeOnTV@ironcactus.com.
That’s it. Sit back and wait as the trappings of fame gradually overwhelm your life and your only solace is lobster tacos and happy hour margaritas, which isn’t really so bad, if you think about it.
On a recent KXAN Tasty Thursday, Gary and Adam from Iron Cactus stopped by to share their recipe for lobster tacos.
Lobster Tacos Recipe
4 oz diced Lobster (portion bag)
0.25 oz Soy Bean Oil (1/2 Tbsp)
0.25 oz diced Jalapenos (Deseeded) (1/2 Tbsp)
1.5 oz prepped Lobster Sauce
1.5 oz shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
1 oz White Wine Cooking
0.5 oz julienne Fresh Spinach
3 ea 4.5″-5″ Flour Tortillas
0.5 oz prepped Veggie Baste
1 oz prepped Pico de Gallo
2 oz prepped Red Pepper Coulis
0.5 oz. prepped Chiffonade Spinach
1. Pre-heat a saute pan, heat the oil, add the lobster, jalapenos.
2. Saute for 3 minutes, deglaze with white wine, reduce the wine by half and add the lobster sauce
3.Simmer sauce for about 1 minute, remove from heat, and stir in the cheese, then add the spinach.
4. At the same time, brush tortillas with baste and grill making diamond marks. Then fill the tortillas with equal
of the lobster mixture.
5. Place pico at point of tacos on top of lettuce.. Place a 2oz ramekin of red pepper coulis on the plate
beside the pico.