June 19, 2007

The Bar Belle: Lick-slam-suck days may be numbered

It pains me to report that a shortage of tequila is imminent. And, apparently, environmentally concerned Americans are to blame for this. Over-consumption — perhaps due to the popularity of Patron in rap songs or the myth that the Mexican liquor makes your clothes fall off — is not the culprit. Nor is under-consumption — perhaps due to colossal hangovers or the eight-hour dry-heaves this spirit often causes. Nope. According to a recent Reuters report, farmers in Mexico are burning their blue agave crop (a main ingredient in tequila) and replacing it with corn due to our rising demand for ethanol, a corn-based fuel option now being marketed to wean us off our dependence from oil. I agree easing our dependence on oil is a good thing, but to sacrifice Jose Cuervo at the altar of a cleaner life is preposterous! I can think of hundreds of things we should burn before we say goodbye to tequila — peas, rutabagas, cauliflower, lima beans, okra, parking tickets, the executive branch of the government … Without tequila, how will we do body shots? What will happen to the price of tea in Margaritaville? How will we ever dance at weddings (or funerals) again? How will we morally justify threesomes? Who will go to Tumbleweed on Monday nights?According to the same report, we could experience the shortage as early as mid-2008 because the agave that currently exists is a bit diseased. Why? Because the farmers aren’t tending to the plants as closely as they would if they comprised, say, a cocoa field or a strawberry patch or a cannabis crop. Bea Chamberlain, owner and chef at El Mundo, which boasts a menu of more than 35 tequilas, doesn’t buy into the extinction rumors, but does believe the latest news may drive up the cost of tequila, just like it did in the 1990s when the demand surpassed the agave crop that must mature for at least eight years.“I sure hope it doesn’t happen,” she said. “I’d really be sad if I couldn’t have my Don Eduardo. The Don Eduardo Silver is the best tequila for margaritas.”Bottom line: stockpile now. Early bird gets the (tequila) worm. Keg-stands still rule. Contact me at shavens@leoweekly.com