Wednesday is National Tequila Day and, aside from drunken college students who remorsefully refer to it as "to-kill-ya," the spirit is enjoying a renaissance. A growing number of Los Angeles bars and restaurants curate lists of the fiery stuff similar to the way sommeliers curate fine wine lists.
Like good sushi, which connoisseurs know better than to smother in wasabi and soy sauce, quality tequila shouldn't be drowned in lime juice and salt. Swirl it, sip it, enjoy it.
Here are my favorite places to tipple tequila.
John Sedlar's modern Latin restaurant in downtown L.A. is so into tequila that it even features specially made "tequila chairs." The chairs are upholstered in brown leather the color of "well-aged extra anejo tequila" and the arms have special trays that hold tequila tasting flights, which come in 2-ounce glasses. (The restaurant features an ever-changing menu of seasonal tequilas and infusions on tap.)
1050 S Flower St., No. 102, Los Angeles, (213) 749-1460; www.riverarestaurant.com
This cavernous downtown restaurant and sister restaurant to Silver Lake's popular nouveau taqueria, Malo, has a private tequila tasting vault. Housed at the back of the restaurant on the ground floor, it's stocked with nearly 250 types of tequila and about 30 mezcals. The vault tenders are knowledgeable and can guide you from Milagro Single Barrel Select to Doña Carlota. They also know the history and flavor profiles of each bottle.
515 W 7th St, Los Angeles, (213) 985-4332; www.masmalorestaurant.com
Part of Cedd Moses' 213 nightlife group, Las Perlas is a bar totally devoted to the celebration of tequila and mezcal. Dressed up like a festive Oaxacan cantina, Las Perlas has all sorts of rare agave imports. Tequila flights go for $20 each. You can mix and match or go with the menu, which includes Arte NOM 1079, Tequila No. 2, Corrido Reposado, Herencia Mexicana Anejo.
107 E. 6th St., Los Angeles, (213) 988-8355; www.lasperlas.la
Jimmy Shaw's Loteria Grill expanded from the Original Farmers Market to include a second location in Hollywood, and when it did Shaw fulfilled his dream of operating a full bar with an extensive tequila list. There is even a separate tequila menu and a large variety of tequila bottles line the walls. Some of the bottles are very old and molded in unusual shapes out of ceramic and clay. The Don Julio Anejo Real is a real treat. During happy hour (3 to 6:30 p.m. daily) tequila shots go for $8. What are you waiting for?
6627 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 465-2500; www.loteriagrill.com
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