Once upon a time, a big night out involved lots of ritualistic shooters with lime and salt, followed by a hazy, regret-filled morning, making tequila an old friend from whom we were happy to part after college. Just as our tastes have matured beyond upside-down margaritas, tequila has followed suit. Vegas has seen an incredible increase in premium tequila, the complex, distinctive spirit that lends itself to sipping, the way the best tequilas are meant to be enjoyed.
The hot spots Hakkasan, Hyde Bellagio, and 1 Oak all stock George Clooney and Rande Gerber’s ultra-premium small-batch Casamigos tequila. Employing a unique process involving a proprietary yeast blend, slow agave roasting (72 hours), and extra-slow fermentation (80 hours, twice the industry standard), they produce a blanco and a reposado that are deliciously smooth, with no bite. The 35-day French oak barrel aging of Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Silver tequila, meanwhile, sets it apart from others in its category, delivering a crisp, agave-forward sipper with vanilla hints and a dry finish. It is just one of 90 types of tequila available at Tacos & Tequila in Luxor.
Some distilleries are aging the spirit longer, with results that have garnered the level of respect among spirits connoisseurs that they once reserved for single-malt scotch and cognac. Aged for at least two and a half years, Don Julio 1942 can be found among more than a hundred tequilas on offer downtown at La Comida, as well as fancying up margaritas at Border Grill in Mandalay Bay. At Wynn and Mandarin Oriental, one can try limited-edition DeLeónLeóna, aged in Sauternes wine barrels for 34 months, yielding an elixir reminiscent of an XO cognac with hints of orange peel, cherry, and rose petals.
Newcomer Maestro Dobel Diamond, served throughout Cosmopolitan, including in the high roller–only Talon Club, is the world’s first crystal-clear aged tequila. A blend of añejo, extra-añejo, and reposado tequilas is filtered to produce a clear liquid with the complexity of a cognac and the crispness of luxury vodka. For a special occasion, seek out Jose Cuervo 250 Aniversario tequila. The brand uses a double-cask aging method to annually produce only 495 bottles of a blend of its best extra-añejo barrels, which is then aged an additional 10 months in sherry casks. A bottle of this rare and complex tequila, teeming with notes of honey, butterscotch, dried fruit, chocolate, oak, and cognac, retails for $2,250 (if you can find one). Or you can order a flute of it at Javier’s in Aria. With tequila this sublime, who needs salt and lime?