Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tico: A golden age of tequila in Beantown?


The streets of Boston are running gold and silver in a flood of tequila; it seems like there’s a new Mexican restaurant and tequila bar opening up every month now. ¡Que bueno! With hundreds of brands to choose from, demand for —as well as knowledge about — the spirit is growing. This month Michael Schlow (Radius, Via Matta) threw his sombrero into the ring with the opening of his latest Back Bay venture, Tico.

“Boston is celebrating tequila,” Schlow says. “I travel to Mexico at least once a year. I have found it to be fascinating. I’m always trying new ones. When I was first developing the restaurant, I didn’t know, frankly, of the influx of Latin or Mexican restaurants popping up around the city — but I don’t think it would have changed my mind. It certainly feels like we’re joining a party that’s in full swing.”

That’s an apt description of the scene at the bar every time I’ve stopped in, with a bustling crowd of after-work corporate types early on, and a dressy thirty-something crowd that’s considerably looser and louder by night (the tequila probably doesn’t hurt in that regard).  

Just don’t expect a rowdy gang of shot-swilling frat boys; it’s not that type of tequila joint. Thankfully.

“The whole idea is not to shoot these,” Schlow says. “If you want a shot of tequila, you should be drinking something lower down on the totem poll. We have those, but our tequilas are all 100 percent blue agave, not one mixto, which is why our list is maybe a little smaller than other restaurants’.”

With roughly 100 to choose from, tequila aficionados and neophytes alike will certainly have a lot on their plate, or in their glass, rather, for some time.

“Tequila is certainly the hottest spirit, it’s a fad that will not go away quickly,” says Schlow. “People are enjoying the diversity of it. Every one has a little different nuance to it. There’s something about tequila, a mystique around it. And there’s something about tequila drinkers.”  

I’ll have what he’s having

“My regular go-to tequila, just having a drink, I really love the Milagro Blanco,”?says Schlow. “For something after dinner, a little sipping tequila, right now I really like the Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia, a barrel-select anejo. It’s brown in color — it’s like sipping a good Scotch.”

222 Berkeley St., Boston  

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