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Tequila flights 

  Tequila expert Clayton Szczech has wanted to attend New Orleans' annual Tales of the Cocktail, but he often finds himself in Mexico during the summer. He missed the event this year because he was touring distilleries in Guerrero and Chihuahua. But Szczech finally reaches the Crescent City this week to host a tequila tasting at Dominique's on Magazine (4213 Magazine St., 504-891-9282; at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26.

  The tasting features 100 percent agave spirits from three of the five categories of tequila — blanco (silver), resposado (aged) and anejo (extra-aged). The selections come from two of the oldest tequila-producing regions in Mexico and several are not available in Louisiana. The distillers include Casa Noble, Aznuia, Dos Armadillos, Celestial and Fontaleza, which Szczech describes as "the most traditional tequila money can buy."

  "It's almost like being a DJ," Szczech says. "I put each tasting together in a different way, with different tequilas."

  The event features samples served neat, not cocktails. There will be small plates offered by Dominque Macquet. Tickets are $50 and reservations are recommended.

  Szczech spends half the year researching and leading tours in Mexico. and the rest of the year leads tasting events and shares his expertise in the United States.

  Tequila is the only spirit exported from Mexico on a global scale, but 90 percent of the supply is consumed by the U.S. and Mexico, Szczech says. The Mexican government legally defines tequila for the market, but there are many spirits made from agave. The country is full of producers who don't seek to export their spirits and thus don't seek the official certification. He likens the array of producers to winemakers in France and the variations achieved from region to region and grape to grape. — WILL COVIELLO


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