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Understanding The Basics of Tequila




The world of tequila contains more than a few surprises. Luckily, there are no better guides than Alec and Ana Tesa, founders of award-winning distillery Eleven20 Tequila

 “The first thing to understand is that there are a lot of fakes out there,” says Alec Tesa. Given the Tesas’ passion for traditional distilling techniques and Mexican culture, they’re the perfect people to explain the fundamentals of this amazing beverage, from what constitutes true tequila to identifying superior varieties and finding the best one for you.

Not all tequila is real

For a beverage to count as true tequila, it needs to meet certain criteria. “Most importantly, it must be made from blue agave in certain places, such as Jalisco, Guanajuato, and Michoacan,” Alec says. “That’s why we craft our artisanal tequila in the heart of tequila country.”

“While you might be able to buy spirits distilled from alternative kinds of agave in California or other places, these beverages taste different,” Ana Tesa adds. They also can’t be called tequila, which by definition must come from blue agave in Mexico.

“Terroir is important, just like with wine,” Alec explains. “Champagne only comes from Champagne, which is near Paris, and Bordeaux only comes from Bordeaux in the southwest of France. There’s something unique and magical about these places that lead to a truly special drink. It has to do with the soil, the latitude, the altitude — everything in the environment comes together perfectly to make lovely elixirs that are exclusive to those particular places.”

“The distillation of tequila from true Mexican blue agave is a beautiful and historic cultural tradition that can’t be replicated elsewhere,” Ana continues. “Keep in mind this knowledge has been handed down through generations. Proper tequila is made in Mexico by Mexicans, using methods they have refined for thousands of years.”

Unfortunately, illicit producers of fake tequila continue to try to fool consumers and often to great lengths to hide the provenance of their products, even reusing bottles from legitimate tequila distilleries to masquerade as the real thing. In addition to scamming people with lesser quality beverages, sometimes they also bottle their products with toxic substances that can have dangerous effects on those who drink them.

How to identify real tequila

To spot true tequila, the Tesas recommend reading labels carefully. “It might seem obvious, but the first rule to follow is to look for the word tequila specifically,” Alec remarks. “Not agave liqueur, not agave eau de vie, and not agave distillates — none of those are the real thing. Also, remember that mezcal is different from tequila as well, since it can be made from other agaves, not pure blue agave like tequila.”

“The bottle should be in pristine condition,” Ana says. “If it looks like someone might have taken the lid off and refilled it, then keep in mind that dubious beverage companies actually do that, so that might be what you’re actually looking at.”

“Don’t buy anything that doesn’t have a label,” Alec adds. “You really shouldn’t even accept a drink for free from a bottle like that!”

The Tesas also recommend purchasing tequila only from established, reputable retailers. “Avoid dodgy situations,” Ana continues. “Don’t try to buy it off the street or at a flea market. It might look like a good deal, but you’re really just getting ripped off.”

According to the Tesas, an even better way to verify authenticity is to look the beverage company up on the official list of producers, which the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT) makes available online. “If the company isn’t listed, it’s not what you want,” Alec says.

Even among real tequilas, a range of different qualities is available.

Identifying the best tequila

“The best tequila is made entirely from blue agave,” Alec says, “so look for ‘100 percent’ on the label.”

“You should also look for brands that don’t have any additives,” Ana adds. “The best tequila is pure. Similarly, if a label says ‘Mixto,’ that means it’s tequila mixed with up to 49 percent other things. For some brands, that means nearly half the drink is sugar.”

Ultimately, what makes a great tequila is its great taste. “Fancy packaging might look impressive, but you can’t drink it,” Alec says. “What’s more important is what that spirit tastes like neat.”

Tequila can also be aged in barrels for different periods of time, which changes the drink’s flavor profile. The youngest variety is called blanco, which goes straight to store shelves after bottling. Reposado comes next, having been aged for two months up to a year, while Añejo is the oldest, aged for one to three years.

“While many people favor aged tequilas, you’ll need to taste the different options yourself to see what you prefer,” Ana says. “Blanco tends to be flashier, which lots of people like best. Whiskey drinkers tend to prefer the older versions, which can take on hints of spices or vanilla from the barrels.”

Experience a Mexican tradition

Finally, the Tesas recommend buying tequila from producers that use traditional Mexican production techniques like Eleven20. “The best experience is an authentic one,” Alec says. “These processes might be slower, but the taste is more than worth the effort.”

For a true Mexican experience, make sure you turn to true Mexican tequila like Eleven20.

Rosario is from New York and has worked with leading companies like Microsoft as a copy-writer in the past. Now he spends his time writing for readers of

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Turning Tragedy into Triumph Through Walking With Anthony




On the morning of February 6, 2010, Anthony Purcell took a moment to admire the churning surf before plunging into the waves off Miami Beach. Though he had made the dive numerous times before, that morning was destined to be different when he crashed into a hidden sandbar, sustaining bruises to his C5 and C6 vertebrae and breaking his neck.

“I was completely submerged and unable to rise to the surface,” Purcell recalls. “Fortunately, my cousin Bernie saw what was happening and came to my rescue. He saved my life, but things would never be the same after that dive.”

Like thousands of others who are confronted with a spinal cord injury (SCI), Purcell plunged headlong into long months of hopelessness and despair. Eventually, however, he learned to turn personal tragedy into triumph as he reached out to fellow SCI victims by launching Walking With Anthony.

Living with SCI: the first dark days

Initial rehabilitation for those with SCIs takes an average of three to six months, during which time they must relearn hundreds of fundamental skills and adjust to what feels like an entirely new body. Unfortunately, after 21 days, Purcell’s insurance stopped paying for this essential treatment, even though he had made only minimal improvement in such a short time.

“Insurance companies cover rehab costs for people with back injuries, but not for people with spinal cord injuries,” explains Purcell. “We were practically thrown to the curb. At that time, I was so immobile that I couldn’t even raise my arms to feed myself.”

Instead of giving up, Purcell’s mother chose to battle his SCI with long-term rehab. She enrolled Purcell in Project Walk, a rehabilitation facility located in Carlsbad, California, but one that came with an annual cost of over $100,000.

“My parents paid for rehabilitation treatment for over three years,” says Purcell. “Throughout that time, they taught me the importance of patience, compassion, and unconditional love.”

Yet despite his family’s support, Purcell still struggled. “Those were dark days when I couldn’t bring myself to accept the bleak prognosis ahead of me,” he says. “I faced life in a wheelchair and the never-ending struggle for healthcare access, coverage, and advocacy. I hit my share of low points, and there were times when I seriously contemplated giving up on life altogether.”

Purcell finds a new purpose in helping others with SCIs

After long months of depression and self-doubt, Purcell’s mother determined it was time for her son to find purpose beyond rehabilitation.

“My mom suggested I start Walking With Anthony to show people with spinal cord injuries that they were not alone,” Purcell remarks. “When I began to focus on other people besides myself, I realized that people all around the world with spinal cord injuries were suffering because of restrictions on coverage and healthcare access. The question that plagued me most was, ‘What about the people with spinal cord injuries who cannot afford the cost of rehabilitation?’ I had no idea how they were managing.”

Purcell and his mother knew they wanted to make a difference for other people with SCIs, starting with the creation of grants to help cover essentials like assistive technology and emergency finances. To date, they have helped over 100 SCI patients get back on their feet after suffering a similar life-altering accident.

Purcell demonstrates the power and necessity of rehab for people with SCIs

After targeted rehab, Purcell’s physical and mental health improved drastically. Today, he is able to care for himself, drive his own car, and has even returned to work.

“Thanks to my family’s financial and emotional support, I am making amazing physical improvement,” Purcell comments. “I mustered the strength to rebuild my life and even found the nerve to message Karen, a high school classmate I’d always had a thing for. We reconnected, our friendship evolved into love, and we tied the knot in 2017.”

After all that, Purcell found the drive to push toward one further personal triumph. He married but did not believe a family was in his future. Regardless of his remarkable progress, physicians told him biological children were not an option.

Despite being paralyzed from the chest down, Purcell continued to look for hope. Finally, Dr. Jesse Mills of UCLA Health’s Male Reproductive Medicine department assured Purcell and his wife that the right medical care and in vitro fertilization could make their dream of becoming parents a reality.

“Payton joined our family in the spring of 2023,” Purcell reports. “For so long, I believed my spinal cord injury had taken everything I cared about, but now I am grateful every day. I work to help other people with spinal cord injuries find the same joy and hope. We provide them with access to specialists, funding to pay for innovative treatments, and the desire to move forward with a focus on the future.”

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