I rolled up to the patio of Joey’s wine bar at the Bentall Centre in Vancouver last night in time to catch the tail end of the Friday post-work crowd, a motley melange of $1500 dollar suits (male sub-species A), bejewelled t-shirts (male sub-species B) and more hydrogen peroxide than you could shake an overpriced hair salon at. I’d planned to meet a business associate – cum – good friend and he, being of a certainly unmarried persuasion, suggested this venue. Being the excellent sport that I am, I complied.

With a few more gentlemen filtering over to our table as the minutes ticked by, the testosterone in the air become palpable and, with it, the inevitable suggestion from one of the lads that, “We should do shots!”

Now, ladies, this is an admittedly poorly held secret of the males of the species: get a bunch of ‘em in a room (or patio, as the case may be – really, it doesn’t matter, just aggregate Andys wherever you like) and one or more of them, sensing the need to prove his manliness to the gathered brethren, makes the call for a round of shooters. And, what, dear ladies, do boys choose to test their testosterone? Well, tequila, of course.

Why? I haven’t a clue. Perhaps it’s the number of individuals of both genders that seem to have – and so happily share – a story of their night with tequila. Or, as often described in these stories: To-Kill-Ya. Or, perhaps, because finicky folks feel tequila is the harshest of liquors. Again, this leaves me at a loss, as I’ll explain in due course.

Personally, I’m more than happy to comply with the call for shots – at least if someone’s ponying up for something other than garbage bar-tequila – given I actually like the stuff. (And, yes, it’s true I was raised in a series of logging towns – my neck’s far too red not to toe the line when manliness is being measured.) And how do these shots get served up? You all know the recipe:

1 oz. Tequila
1/8th lime, wedged
1 pinch salt

Lick back of hand. Pour salt on wetted surface. Take lime in same hand. Take tequila, in shot glass, in opposite hand. Given gathered ingrates a taunting look. Laugh foolishly. Lick salt from hand. Shoot tequila. Bite into lime. Shake head and say, “whoa!” More goofy laughter followed by back-slapping. Continue with your evening for some period of time. Repeat.

Now, when drinking half-way decent tequila, this salt-and-lime exercise is a bit of a waste as it masks the taste of the agave elixir (obviously the idea for many in general or for all forced to drink bar tequila in the wee hours of the night in some downtown nightclub). This fact, in fact, provides some males the opportunity to increase their testosterone numbers relative to those around them, by cajoling the others about their relative weakness (typically expressed in terms unsuitable for this blog) given the Chosen One has chosen to take his tequila straight. Aaaargh.

The irony here, is that most – based on a highly unscientific survey conducted over the past 10 years – don’t realize that by taking their tequila neat, the Chosen One is in fact hinting at the best way to take tequila…if you have the right tequila. I say 10 years for my poll as it was about a decade ago that I was introduced to aged tequila. Ole!, my friends, this is the promised land. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise given we all know that booze gets better with time (story…. But somehow most of us don’t apply this knowledge to tequila.

Take my word: do it. Aged tequila, enjoyed – slowly – from a snifter, is a express route to a reserved spot on the beach at La Vida Beuna.  Given this, a bottle of 10 year (or more) aged tequila is now a requisite souvenir whenever my wife and I head south to surf. Open it back home, pour an ounce, and be transported.

Before doing so, given summe is now in full swing, hook yourself up a little of this zinger of a variant on a Latin fave.

Ceviche Cuervo*

Ingredients

Sauce

• 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
• 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon aji amarillo paste
• 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
• 2 oz. tequila (*make it a 5 year – definitely doesn’t have to be Jose Cuervo – the name’s just for the alliteration)
• 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
• Pinch of salt

Seafoody Goodness Etc.

• 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and blanched
• 1/2 pound octopus, cooked and sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch slices
• 1/2 pound sautéed bay scallops
• 1 yellow tomato, seeded and diced
• 1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
• 2 tablespoons sliced green onions

Preparation

Place all the sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. In a nonreactive bowl, mix together the sauce, shrimp, octopus, scallops, tomato, bell pepper, chives, and green onions. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

End Note: My apologies to you and, especially, to the 365 ladies for the tardiness of this post. Turns out I thought National Tequila Day was on Sunday, not today. Truly, I should have known better…a Sunday?!? Stupid. Or, perhaps, hung over. Mea culpa. Next round’s on me to make up for it…

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