Tequila Jalisco - Your Ultimate Tour Guide
by Greg Rutkowski
If you love tequila the drink, then you'll most certainly love Tequila the town.
This guide equips you with background information for your next destination, so you can sip your mezcal or tequila as you enjoy the read.
Where Is Tequila?
Tequila is the capital of Tequila municipality, which is located in the center-east of Jalisco. From Guadalajara's Centro Historico, you can use the train or head to the Central Vieja bus station. It costs approximately 182 pesos to and from Tequila and 1/2 peso entry fee at the Central Vieja bus station. You can catch a bus every 40 minutes to one hour.
The bus to tequila is a standard travel bus, stopping and picking up passengers along the way. If you are not with a tour company, the journey to Tequila can last over two hours because of the numerous stops. This shouldn't bother you though, since you can still start early. If you aren't spending the night in Tequila, remember to head back early since the last bus from Tequila to Guadalajara leaves at 8pm.
History of Tequila Jalisco
The Otomi Indians and Chichimeca were the original inhabitants of Tequila, and then the Iberians came just before 1530. On 15th April, 1530, Juan Calero headed the Franciscan Friars in the founding of Santiago de Tequila. He was later executed in 1541 in an indigenous uprising. Christians believe that the spot of the main altar of San Juanito de Escobedo church was where he was killed.
In 1600, Pedro Sánchez de Tagle installed the very first tequila distillery in the area. However, the drink started gaining popularity through José Cuervo towards the end of the 18th Century.
In 1824, the town was named as the head of one of Jalisco's 26 departments. In 2002, it was designated as a Magical Town. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006 alongside El Arenal and Amatitán, Tequila had the first Protected Designation of Origin in Mexico.
The Best Time To Visit Tequila Jalisco
Are you worried about the weather and how favorable it would be with regard to your traveling calendar? Worry no more. Below is a breakdown of the Tequileño climate that would help you plan your schedule appropriately.
- Tequila has a semi-arid subtropic climate type
- The annual average temperature in the town is 74 degrees F
- It is coldest from December to February and warmest from May to September
- If want to visit Tequila during the warmest time, travel in May, June, or April
- About 43" of rain are precipitated annually
- If you are not into rainy weather, not that it's rainiest between June and October.
- There's also a likelihood of raining, though a little, between November and May
- If you are after dry weather travel in April, December or March when the chances of significant precipitation are low
If you are planning your trip in line with the tourism calendar of your destination, then these tips would also help you in making informed decisions:
- January is the busiest month for tourism in Tequila. It's closely followed by February and March
- Hotel prices are most expensive during the busiest months, but you can book earlier to spend less
- May is slowest season for tourism in Tequila
- Most expenses are least expensive in May, so you can plan with that in mind if you are working on a budget
The Best Places To Stay In Tequila Jalisco
While planning any trip, the first thing that comes to your mind is, "Where will I stay?" Well, don't worry, we've got you covered!
Just as the name suggests, it's more like the one and only hotel in Tequila. That might sound too confident, but that's for a good reason. The Hotel is a nice place to lodge. It's in a colonial building at Calle Mexico 138, right at the center of Tequila. That means if you stay here, then you are better placed to access anywhere in the Magic Town. The rooms are spacious and very comfortable. There's also a spa and sauna, so you can sip your tequila cocktail, relax, go to the moon and come back as you enjoy a gentle body massage after a busy day touring the town.
This is another place to stay in Tequila that would surely give you the Mexican feeling you're craving for. One thing that stands out here is the impeccable cleanliness. It is located in Ramón Corona, 86.
Hotel Boutique La Cofradía aka (Matices Hotel de Barricas)
Located in Calle La Cofradía 1297, this hotel is made up of cabins that are surrounded by agave. It has a small museum that you can make use of to get some elaborate information on tequila.
Other magnificent hotels in Tequila that are worth considering are Hotel La Rienda, Casa Dulce María and Plaza Rubio.
Top 10 Things To Do In Tequila Jalisco
You might be wondering why all the fuss about the Magic Town. Well, Tequila is among the top tourist destinations in Mexico, and for good reasons too. If you are stranded in boredom or you are still at the planning phase for your next trip, here are some things you can do and what's worth seeing in Tequila.
Start at the Railroad
The tourist railroad from Guadalajara is the first welcome sign whenever you visit Tequila. Since the 19th Century, the railroad has been very instrumental in the production and distribution of tequila drink nationwide. It also played a huge role in the introduction of tequila into the lucrative market in the USA.
José Cuervo Express has successfully replaced the era of mule trains that were used to transport tequila demijohns. These trains move from Guadalajara to Tequila Jalisco. Get a ticket plus for the train and enjoy a Mexican show, an educational tasting by an expert and a tour of the La Rojeña factory.
Then go down the streets
There's no better place to buy any authentic solid or liquid product related to tequila than on the streets of Tequila. Whatever brand you need, look no further. There are products that nationally and globally famous as well as those that you might have never even heard about before. Whether you want industrial or artisan tequila products, there's everything on these picturesque streets.
If you are into antiques and ornaments, pass by the craft shops and you'll get collection bottles, agave pineapples and agave leaves among others. Don't forget to take a bottle of your tequila friend to keep you company on the road too. Go easy on that, as you can get too drunk and end up missing the adventures of Tequila.
Consider getting yourself a tequila gift from the talented Jalisco craftsmen that will bring back memories of your trip to Tequila. The wood craftsmen of Jalsico make beautiful barrels with red stick, which is an attractive reddish oak specie. The barrels are tiny and can have decorations of agave and tequila motifs. If you need something that is easily portable, decorative and practical, then this is the best gift for a home bar.
Amphoras lined with pork skin is another work of art that you can buy for yourself and fill with freshly made tequila. Pieces of clay and woven clothing accessories with pita or candelia vegetable fiber are also available for tourists.
Engage in a Tavern Tour
Do you know what a tavern tour is? "Tavern" basically describes an establishment of a popular setup that serves alcoholic beverages. In Mexico, it's the place where the distillation of the drink was done and the sales circuit began. You hire a local expert guide through a tour company to ensure you don't miss out on anything important.
In 1781, Cuervo was authorized by the Spanish crown to officially produce Mezcal wine. As a founding dynasty of the industry, it has since become a household name. In 1812, The La Rojeña was founded. It's the oldest beverage distillery in Latin America. Cuervo started stamping the figure of a raven on the barrels, making them among the first commercial brands nationwide. Enjoy a walk through the history of tequila at the Mundo Cuervo.
La Chorrera, La Estancita, La Rojeña, and Villa Tequila are some of the old taverns that are now industrial emporiums open to tourists.
A distillery tour with Casa Sauza is also something you should think about.
Museums are a must-visit
The National Museum
The National Museum is located in Ramón Corona 34. It offers a very detailed walk, traversing the pre-Hispanic origin of the tequila drink all the way to the modern days. Old mills used for crushing huge agave pineapples are worth seeing. There are also containers that were used for fermentation and you can as well see the distillation stills. Furthermore, old farming equipment and tools used in agave plantations and bottles used in the packaging of tequila over time also await you at the National Museum.
The Los Abuelos Museum
If you've ever heard of the Sauza family, don't miss your only golden chance of seeing their family photos at the Los Abuelos Museum. This family already has 5 tequila generations, and they are famous for being core in the the "aristocracy of tequila." Take your time to learn about the traditional tequila production methods as well as the tools and furniture that were used 150 years ago in it's production. Are you interested in carrying home some local artifacts? If so, there's a shop at the museum that caters to that need too.
Embrace the Architecture
Is It Worth Visiting The Municipal Palace?
Our answer is a big YES!
The municipal palace is not only famous for the outstanding architectural construction, but also the monumental mural that clearly depicts the history of Tequila Jalisco. There's no clear way to get a picture of Tequila's history if you still can't relate after encountering this enormous fresco. Artist Manuel Hernández showed every bit of the Magical Town, from the indigenous origin to the main characters during independence and major political times, the agave and transportation of the pineapples using mules, and the charro shows of Jalisco, just to mention but a few.
Join Events and Cultural Practices
National Tequila Day is celebrated on 24th July. If you happen to be around at that time, you can't afford to miss this.
The National Tequila Fair
Tequila drink is so honored in Tequila and Mexico at large, that a two-weeks annual fair is held in that respect. If you've planned your trip between 30th November and 12th December, then this party that overflows with tequila goodies is one you must purpose to attend.
It overlaps with the day of the city's patron saint, the Immaculate Purísima Concepción, on 8th of December and the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe on 12th of December.
This is a time to meet the most important companies in the tequila industry, as they all set up stands and exhibit their products. You can also take advantage of the tastings offered and even tour the plantations and factories during the annual National Tequila Fair.
There are intense shows with folkloric dances, typical music, cultural events, palenques and charrería events.
The days of San Juan and San Pedro are on 24th June and 29th June. The name came about because during the party, locals throw small clay figures shaped like pitchers, with pebbles in them that make them rattle. According to tradition, Tequila girls put on red suit that look like ticks circulating the grass.
The Traditional Blessing
If you thought it's weird to dedicate two weeks to the National drink, then this would definitely shock you.
As a first timer in Tequila, one of the things that are bound to leave you dumb-founded is the culture of the traditional blessing. At 9pm, people will suddenly turn facing the parish church to receive the priest's Christian blessing. At that point, the priest comes out to decree blessings and congratulate the faithfuls. Those who are far partake of these blessings when through a triple ringing of the bells. Other than passers-by, those who are in the houses also stop everything and put away all forms of distractions like televisions and radio in order to receive the blessings of health and prosperity that the priest imparts.
Connect with Mother Nature
Tequila Jalisco is not all about festivities. There's something for everyone, even those in love with nature.
Los Azules Waterfall
This beautiful waterfall is just a few minutes away from the city of Tequila. You can reach it through a narrow path that goes down a steep ravine which calls for a lot of careful treading. You can get in touch with a tour company to avoid getting lost. Remember it's a hike, so you need dress up to the occasion. So if you only have high heels and classy outfits, just go shopping now.
The path itself is a sight to behold, and you can even enjoy a fruit or two directly from the trees in the wild. Once you get to the site, you can swim or take a dip in the pools or practice adventure sports such as rappelling. If you are not the sporty type, just sit somewhere and enjoy the serenity of environment. The crystal clear fresh waters are quite soothing to the soul.
The Tequila Volcano
The extinct Tequila Volcano rises 2930 meters above sea level, a true natural landmark of the Magical Town. The pre-Hispanic indigenous people considered the volcano a sacred mountain. It was the source of obsidian that they used in carving sharp tools. The word "Tequila" originally means "Place where it is cut."
The lower part is predominantly oak forest. and the vegetation changes as it rises. If hiking is your thing, or if you'd wish to give it a try, it would be therapeutic to walk on the slopes and even try sky-diving at the crater.
Eat And Drink The Tequileño Way
Bars and Clubs
La Capilla is one place you just have to pass by and enjoy their world-famous cocktail "Batanga." This is a very simple drink made with white tequila, lemon juice, salt and cola. It's the only Mexican establishment that made it to the the list of "50 Best Bars In The World" in 2013 as published by Drinks International Magazine.
The Bar Destilados is located on Calle Juárez 91 in downtown Tequila. If you want one place where you can meet the local young people, it's at this bar, which is popular for its ambientazo. There is karaoke and the prices are fair enough. Unfortunately for many young people, the bar closes at 2am.
La Antigua Casona is a very popular restaurant in front of the main square. Both Mexican and international food are served in a very cool and beautifully decorated atmosphere. If you desire style and order, then this is the place for you to dine in Tequila.
Fonda Cholula offers some of the best regional dishes as well as snacks. It is located in José Cuervo 54, near the La Rojeña factory.
The Palomar is another restaurant worth dining at. It has a good view of the square and it's well known for serving the best breast of tequila, fresh bread, the chilaquiles and the best coffee you can find.
El Marinero is best known for perfect Spanish food or fruit of the sea, so you could go there if you'd like some of that.
There's no better place that serves authentic Jalisco-style birria than the Fonda Chivo & Vaca. So if birria is your thing, then now you know where to go.
The Local Market
If you are traveling on a budget, or if you just like delicious cheap food, then eat at the local market, Mercado de Comidas. It is located north of the church.
Tequila On The Streets!
If you aren't a tequila fan, the what are you doing in Tequila Jalisco? Well, that's an assumption that is almost always true. You can take your tequila straight or as a cocktail, and funny enough, the best place for that is on the streets. The main street and plaza area has little stands all around specifically for this very purpose. Ricos Cantaritos and Ricas Micheladas are the most popular drinks here. Ricos Cantaritos is made of tequila, fresh squeezed lime and lemon with a bit of spice, sprite and a salted rim. Ricas Micheladas uses tomato juice instead of sprite.
Drinks could range from 40 pesos to 80 pesos per mug depending on the size. Since you get to keep the ceramic mug, it's cheaper to refill your tequila. That could be 25-50 pesos per refill.
Explore the Neighborhood
This beautiful locality is just 22km away from Tequila. It's part of the "agave landscape and old industrial facilities of Tequila."
Take a tour of the Arenal Plain and enjoy the ancestral tequila drink in its factories. The church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario as well as the main square with its nice kiosk and fountain are all visible from the center of town.
Former haciendas preserving testimonies of the traditional manufacture of tequila like the tahonas for agave grinding.
The landscape consists of agave fields and the tequila factories.
The Herradura House in Amatitán was founded by Don Felix Lopez in 1870, and it's one of the most popular brands both locally and internationally. The US company Brown-Forman acquired the brand in 2007, but they still roast agave in clay oven and ferment with wild yeast yeast like before. The original tequila factory in Herradura is now operated by a museum.
The temple of Immaculate Conception, the Cola de Caballo waterfall, the Chapel of Carmen are some of the places you can also visit in Amatitán.
Try the Local Cuisine
This emblematic dish of Jalisco is one of the must-try dishes on your trip to Tequila. The original recipe uses goat meat but pork, sheep and beef are also being used because of the scarcity of goat meat. Rosted chilles (guajillo, morita, bell and red width) as well as pulque are some of the essential ingredients in a Jalsico-style birria.
Of course you must have expected us to suggest that you try tequila, so we understand your shock as you read this. Since it's more than obvious that tequila and tequila cocktails will be in your planned list of drinks, we chose to skip that and recommend something different.
Tejuino is a typical Mexican drink made with piloncillo and fermented corn. The Jalisco version has an addition of salt and lemon.Tequila Jalisco the Town and Tequila the beverage have a lot in common.
Lastly, you should check out Agave Tours for an awesome Tequila adventure.