Why You Should Order A Tequila Cocktail Next Time You Eat Sushi

Drink it neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail — the only way to make tequila even better is with a legendary food pairing. Even though tequila and tacos are a match made in heaven, the distilled liquor can also create an excellent companion alongside a colorful and vibrant sushi platter.

Tequila is made from blue agave found in Mexico's state of Jalisco. With an average of 40% ABV, VinePair shares that the plant is cooked to release its sugars, which can then be extracted, fermented, and distilled. Tequila can vary in color, aroma, and flavor profile depending on where the plant grows and how long the liquor is barrel-aged. According to Difford's, tequila can be classified as blanco (unaged), reposado (barrel-aged between 2-12 months), añejo (barrel-aged up to three years), extra añejo (barrel-aged over three years), cristalino (charcoal filtered), joven (mixture of blanco and reposado), and mixto (less than 100% blue agave, mixed with sugars or spirits).

Teeming with dozens of nuanced aromas, tequila can match with just about any food. But, the trick is understanding which tequila and which cocktail in which to showcase it creates a mouthwatering combination. Although you can substitute tequila for other liquor in cocktails that are made to pair with food, The Manual also advises thinking about tequila's subtle flavors.

Citrusy blanco tequila compliments rich rolls

While reposados and añejos taste a bit nuttier and warmly spiced, blanco tequila is more citrus in its profile. Consequently, this fresh and fruity quality makes blanco tequila an especially great pairing with spicy uramaki like a dragon roll, shares Forbes.

Dustin Fox, a beverage director at the Flagship Restaurant Group, tells Food & Wine that for sashimi, blanco is a knockout pairing because its minerality and citrus notes help cut through the richness of fattier fish. He also recommends pairing a buttery Dutch Yellowtail with a floral Highlands variety or an oily tuna or salmon or tuna with an acidic and earthy Lowlands blanco. Grilled tako (octopus) or fried oyster sushi shines with a smokier variety of tequila, or even the tequila-adjacent mezcal, according to Thrillist.

Following these pairing guidelines, the next trick is working these tequilas into cocktails. Thrillist explains that since the liquor works amazingly with citrus (much like fresh fish does), it makes a great addition to drinks like the Margarita, Paloma, El Apio, or smoky Leña Ice. If you're not sold on tequila and sushi, dry Champagne can give you a similar fresh, palate-cleansing effect.