How the Gringos Stole Tequila
The Modern Age of Mexico’s Most Traditional Spirit
A definitive look at the evolution of North America’s only truly native spirit
Once little more than party fuel, tequila has graduated to the status of fine sipping spirit. How the Gringos Stole Tequila traces the spirit’s evolution in America from frat house firewater to luxury good. But there’s more to the story than tequila as upmarket drinking trend. Chantal Martineau spent several years immersing herself in the world of tequila—traveling to visit distillers and agave farmers in Mexico, meeting and tasting with leading experts and mixologists around the United States, and interviewing academics on either side of the border who have studied the spirit.
The result is a book that offers readers a glimpse into the social history and ongoing impact of this one-of-a-kind drink. It addresses issues surrounding the sustainability of the limited resource that is agave, the preservation of traditional production methods, and the agave advocacy movement that has grown up alongside the spirit’s swelling popularity. In addition to discussing the culture and politics of Mexico’s most popular export, Martineau takes readers on a colorful tour of the country’s Tequila Trail and introduces them to the mother of tequila—mezcal.
“A phenomenal book—probably one of the smartest books about a spirit I’ve ever read.”
— Toronto Star
“A rich story . . . engaging.”
— Wall Street Journal
“A lively exploration of the heritage, culture, practices and politics that shape Mexico’s most famous export. Martineau introduces producers using traditional agricultural and distillation methods, shows readers why they’re worth preserving, and outlines the challenges facing anyone concerned with the quality and sustainability of tequila, mezcal and other agave spirits.”
— Kansas City Star
“Martineau argues convincingly that good tequila resembles wine more than it does its fellow liquors. She writes of agave plantations as if they are vineyards, with variations in climate, slope, soil, and moisture resulting in variations in the plants that are, in turn, discernible in the distilled product. She co-opts the precious French word terroir and applies it to her subject with no intended loss of dignity.”
— Los Angeles Review of Books
“Martineau journeys through Mexico interviewing producers of the agave-based spirits tequila and mescal. She’s dismayed that international beverage distributors now design and market Mexico’s signature alcoholic drinks and that techniques of mass production too often sacrifice integrity and authenticity.”
— Foreign Affairs