The Mixto Mix Up
It’s Time to Give Tequila a Second Chance.
“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering. If there is a purpose in life at all, there must be a purpose in suffering and in dying. But no man can tell another what this purpose is. Each must find out for himself without suffering, there would be no meaning to life at all.” — Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Chances are you’ve experienced, or at least heard stories from friends, about the mysterious power of tequila to cause an ordinary night at the bar to descend into depravity, and render normally rational individuals temporarily insane. Witnessing the natural power of tequila is a transcendent experience. It’s breathtaking entertainment, like watching an episode of Cops unfold right before your very eyes. But participating in a tequila escapade of your own is entirely different.
The fog of amnesia settles around the experience, and you wonder whether you actually committed any of the vague atrocities that you half-remember. The comfort of plausible deniability is erased when you find a voicemail from a bail bondsman on your phone. But the true realization of the night’s debauchery comes when you glimpse your lower back in the bathroom mirror. There, written in elegant calligraphy, is a permanent reminder of that night you once shared with tequila — a tramp stamp commemoration of your fleeting insanity — a tattoo forever on the small of your back which spells out your own name: first, middle and last. (Maybe the tramp stamp was an experience only I’ve had, but you surely have your own commemorative example).
The point is that something went terribly wrong. Your nice night out was going according to plan for a few minutes. You remember that you met your friends at the bar, and everyone was in high spirits. And then the bartender asked what you wanted to drink. And that’s when your night out went dark, and turned into a nightmare.
If you’re wondering how you could possibly arrive at the decision to get a tramp stamp of your own name, allow me to explain. I’ve been down that road, and I’ll do my best to map out a route of seemingly benign decisions that will allow you to reach your destination of lifelong regret. When imbibing tequila, insanity and adventure become synonymous. Carpe diem sounds like the perfect justification for turning drunken dreams into reality.
Here is a guide to completing your very own descent into depravity:
First, you take a wrong turn when you order a shot of Mixto tequila, rather than forking over one or two extra dollars for a 100% pure agave tequila. For now, you don’t need to worry about the difference between these types of tequila, because you have to stay focused — the next wrong turn will sneak up on you. It’s subversive. Your friend appears at the bar beside you, and without a word, he/she buys another round of Mixto for the both of you. You take your second shot, chase it with lime, and you’re on your way to reaching the compulsive yes-man within yourself.
But you can still recover your common sense if you can manage to refrain from another wrong turn! Your night will not reach the point of no return until you make your third and final wrong turn… Opportunity knocks when the bartender asks if you want another round. If you truly want to reach the point of tramp stamp obsession, take a moment to gather all of your buzzed overconfidence, then, lean up against the bar nonchalantly, and to the bartender you say, “Make it a double.” Be cool about the whole thing. Don’t let on that you don’t know your limits.
Without realizing it, you’ve just spoken the words that will put you on the path to a dark, unfamiliar place. You’re well on your way to a destination that will haunt you forever. Where you will make the decision that will follow you everywhere. You won’t be able to see it, but you’ll know that it’s there, right behind you, whispering your name from the small of your back. There’s no going back from here.
To recap: You’ve now made three wrong turns in a row. This leaves you confused, because you are clearly not heading back in the right direction. You mull it over, and you’re pretty sure that three wrong turns should reset your orientation, so that your evening is back on track… to the right destination. Yet it’s clear, even though you can’t see straight, that you’re well on your way to an unfamiliar place. This path leads in the wrong direction. How has this happened?
It can all be traced back to deceitful advertising, greed, and corporate hooliganism…perpetrated by none other than the mysterious, yet ubiquitous brands of Mixto tequila! (Who shall remain nameless, for the purposes of this article…Oh, what’s that? A shot of Cuervo? No thank you, I’ll have a real tequilla…even if I am a gringo.)
You wanted to have a good time, like you’d seen in all those advertisements for the cheap tequilas that can be found on the bottom shelf wherever tequila is sold. Those enviable brands of Mixto that are the preferred fuel of frat parties, unapologetic alcoholics, and other aficionados of liquors that necessitate chasers. You wanted to be like them — like frat bros and alcoholics. How nice it would be to feel so carefree!
But you weren’t familiar with the ins and outs, the tips and tricks, of the tequila market. By no fault of your own, you became a victim of those misleading commercials, and their depictions of beautiful people laughing together on a beach, while passing around a brand of Mixto tequila — a jug containing an impossibly gold liquid, 1.75L of Mixto and sunlight glimmer brilliantly together within the confines of plastic. All that production value led you to think, “hey, I’ve seen this brand of tequila on TV. There were fun and beautiful people drinking it. It must be good.”
But Mixto tequila brands don’t mention something essential about what exactly they Mixto into their tequila to create such impossibly gold liquid (and profits that are surely impossible, unless there’s a massive catch within all the Mixto product they sell).
Turns out the Mixto brands are selling a product that consumers don’t really know. The name ‘Tequila’ is an umbrella term. Within Tequila there are two separate categories, which are defined differently, and are held to very different standards. One category is called simply ‘Tequila’, and products in this category are referred to as Mixto. The other category is called ‘Tequila 100% Agave’, and is held to a much higher standard than Mixto tequila. The most glaring difference between the two is that Tequila 100% Agave contains only the naturally occurring sugars of the Blue Weber Agave plant, while ‘Tequila’ (colloquially referred to as Mixto) is only required to contain 51% Blue Weber Agave sugar, and can be mixed with 49% added sugars, which do not naturally occur in the plant.
Corn syrup, is one example of an added sugar from a non-agave source. Corn is used to make whiskey, so you can imagine just how adulterated a Mixto product becomes through the use of outside sugars. It’s reasonable to ask whether it makes any sense to allow Mixto products to be called tequila at all. And when you consider that Mixto is allowed to contain still more non-agave additives (specifically, caramel color, oak extract, glycerin, and sugar syrup) it seems like an outright lie to consumers to allow this Mixto product to be called by the name Tequila, which has a very. There are consequences to drinking this tequila-additive mixture, rather than the pure stuff.
Drunk on a mixto concoction, you became confused, disoriented, and unable to escape a cycle of bad decisions. You were in no condition to remember and apply idioms correctly. But you could easily confuse them.
You thought you could remedy one wrong turn by making two more. But the reality is that three wrongs don’t make a right, especially when it comes to tequila. Still, after that third pour, you’re totally mixed up on mixto, and all sorts of silly mistakes are likely to happen. Your silly mistake was that you confused the word ‘wrong’ with the word ‘left’. Three lefts make a right — like when you miss a turn while driving, and you just circle back around the block — left, left, left — and you’re back on the right path. But you weren’t making a left turn with each shot of Mixto. You were making a wrong turn. And three wrongs just make things worse.
So what have we learned from this slightly convoluted anecdote?
You must be on guard when Mixtos are being poured. You have to know that there’s a wrong turn coming. Because one wrong turn with a mixto can easily turn into three or four. Because Mixtos can technically be called ‘Tequila’, that’s all that gets printed on the label. They don’t talk about all that other added stuff. Why would they when they can just use a bit of sleight of hand, and use phrases like ‘made from the finest agave’ to keep inexperienced tequila consumers happily consuming a product that’s much cheaper to produce than 100% agave tequila?
It’s a strategy that I call the Mixto Mix Up. I just came up with that, actually. But I have been a victim of the Mixto Mix Up, even before I had a name for it. It’s hard to avoid a trap that has no name, no identity to reveal, no way to warn others about the scandalous Mixto fraud that’s been hoodwinking consumers for years. Taking money, and giving hangovers. When did alcohol become associated with such immorality? Oh, the humanity!
The Mixto Mix Up has been the mysterious cause of hangovers and mayhem all over the world for decades. Of course, I can’t directly prove what caused all of those senseless hangovers, regrettable decisions, and ruined Cinco de Mayos. The correlation is there, if you know to look for it. But if you don’t believe me, go ahead and conduct your own experiment. It’s an experience worth enduring.
The philosophy that Frankl posits in Man’s Search for Meaning, is very poignantly exemplified by all of this Mixto madness. Humans aren’t built to suffer continuously. Psychologically and physically, we can’t withstand the constant abuse of drinking Mixtos. The hangovers, the broken families, the passionless sex with strangers — it would be soul-crushing to think that Mixtos are the only option.
But luckily there’s relief. Among the churning chaos created by mixtos parading around like wolves in sheep’s clothing, there is hope. Something better is out there. You just have to reach out and take it. It’s called Tequila Fortaleza, and it’s 100% pure agave tequila. It’s the real thing. It’s all natural, all the time, and it can be all yours. When you taste it, when you enjoy it at a family gathering without making your mother cry, you’ll understand what it all means — this mixed up thing we call life. Each time you sip Fortaleza, you’ll appreciate the beauty of the world anew, just like the very first time.
But you should not forget the Mixto Mix Up, nor should you be angry at fraudulent perpetrators of the most heinous crime in the history of tequila. Instead, realize that it is the knowledge of suffering — the personal experience of the Mixto Mix Up, for example — that allows us to understand and appreciate the natural beauty of 100% agave tequila. It’s the embodiment of living well. It’s what Tequila Fortaleza puts into every step along the path to producing the best tequila possible; it’s taking pride in their work; it’s the commitment to a method that sets efficiency aside, and puts the best tequila it can in the hands of people who have suffered enough; it’s just better tasting tequila.
Worse than the hangovers, the cycles of bad decisions, and the unapologetic perversion of the truth that Mixto brands sell to consumers, is the negative associations these brands have created for those who produce tequila 100% agave. Though the standard is much higher for tequila 100% agave, the fact of the matter is that consumers are not made aware of these different standards. The standards which control how Mixtos and 100% agave tequilas may label and represent the product to consumers are not nearly as stringent as the standards that control production. So Mixto tequila is cheaper and easier to produce, bottle and export, but is allowed to market its product without disclosing any of this to consumers. Mixto labels are allowed to refer to the product as ‘Tequila’, and are only restricted in that they cannot claim to be ‘100%’ agave. They can, however, use misleading phrases like ‘Tequila made from the finest agave’. This doesn’t reveal that the product is, in fact, only required to contain 51% of ‘the finest agave’ and 49% added, non-agave sugars. It actually sounds like the Mixto only contains agave, because there is no mention of any other additive. It is such an insignificant difference that the vast majority of consumers are never made aware that the same way as tequila 100% agave. The exploitation of lax marketing standards is apparent on the labels Outside of Mexico and the niche of tequila connoisseurs Their relentless pursuit of increasing profit margins has led these Mixto producers to toss aside the traditional methods of making tequila, and replace the human element of the process with industrialized alternatives. Trading efficiency for quality has cut production costs and sent profits soaring for Mixto producers. But their profit has come at a high cost. The world’s perception of tequila is shallow because. Tequila is taken in shots and chased with lime. It is a Mexican novelty drink to the mainstream consumer. It’s thought of in terms of body shots, spring break binges, and an ingredient to be added to margarita mix. It’s become a just a means to an end.
But the artisanal craft of tequila has managed to survive. There are still purists in the business of tequila. There are many who still put the task of making the best possible tequila ahead of profit, and maintain the true form of tequila. These brands tend to be small, sustained by a niche market, and choose the traditional methods of production which rely on the subjectivity of human perception, and the unique tastes of tequileros who have dedicated their whole lives to an endeavor that embodies the richness of Mexican culture.