It’s a long way from dorm-room shots of Pepe Lopez, this Patron Reposada. I’ve mixed it with lime juice and a touch of Cointreau, even added just a little sugar. It’s one a hell of margarita.
But a smooth margarita on a cold New England winter night is a drink poured from the fountain of bittersweet. That little burn in the throat, almost medicinal in nature, always flashes me a few winters back to when I was a virtually unpaid editor of a small, quarterly bird-hunting magazine. In exchange for a laughable monthly salary, I had the chance to travel and hunt – with one of the most memorable trips being an exclusive bobwhite/dove/duck lodge in the Tamaulipas region of northern Mexico. There, the locally produced tequila was kept in an small oak cask, ours for the taking 24/7, if we were so inspired. That tequila was smooth and creamy and much like a brandy. We sipped it straight. No shots or lime or salt. It was infinitely better than the so-called good stuff I’m drinking now.
But, like good tequila does, it made my uvula spasm. So, whenever I feel that peculiar sensation at the root of my tongue I am reminded of my short stay at that lodge, of the brandy-like tequila, the Mexican guides, of the covey after covey of wild bobwhite quail exploding from the arid landscape. The 65-degree days and 35-degree nights.
We ate some sort of smoked chicken wrapped in tortillas and smothered with green salsa for lunch. I drank Coca Cola lite out of glass bottles. We hunted behind a pack of English pointers that were trial rejects from Texas and Mississippi. An older gentleman I spent a day with shot a rattlesnake he nearly stepped on. We hunted in orange groves. The guides unnervingly yelled “SHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT!” when coveys erupted – like a parent screaming at a kid’s soccer game trying to will a goal through vocalization.
I missed, I don’t know, the first 10 birds I saw, unable to pick one bird out of covey rise and stay with it while others flushed. I finally connected. And connected and connected. So many points, so many shells, so many birds. Wild birds, all of them. My shoulder was sore. My hearing’s never fully recovered. I shot a double. Several times. We ate the birds at night, barbecued and spicy and washed down with that nameless mellow tequila.
I’ll probably never hunt wild bobwhite quail like that again. And tequila will never taste so good.