Drinking

Get Into The Spirit

Newport tequila bars worth giving a shot

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In summer, locals and tourists alike flock to Newport for the beach, the Cliff Walk, and the bar scene, but did you know that the City by the Sea is also a great place to sample tequila? Perro Salado and Diego’s Mexican Restaurant pour some of the finest tequilas this side of Aquidneck Island, and best of all, both establishments are experts when it comes to the Mexican spirit.

What is a tequila bar, exactly? For Geralyn Burke, general manager of Perro Salado on Charles Street, it is “a place to come and learn more about the history and really intriguing aspects of the spirit itself and its makers.”

For novices, one good place to start is to learn the difference between tequila and its smokier cousin, mezcal. Both are made from the agave plant; however, tequila can only be made out of Blue Agave, while mezcal can be crafted out of dozens of forms of the plant. In terms of the flavor profile, mezcal tends to taste a little more like scotch.

Both Perro Salado and Bowen’s Wharf’s Diego’s offer an overwhelming variety of tequila (over 50!), each with distinct flavors. The most important thing to know is that the taste depends on how long the tequila has been bottled. The varietal called blanco, for example, is bottled shortly after distilling and has hints of pepper and citrus; reposado is bottled for less than a year; anejo is aged in barrels for over a year but less than three; and extra anejo is kept for more than three years. The older the tequila, the sweeter it tends to be.

At Perro Salado, customers can try “tequila flights,” i.e., three shots of tequila at a time, or cocktails like the Blood Orange and the Prickly Pear. Diego’s offers mixed drinks with memorable names like the Bride of Carlos, Spicy Paloma, and the mezcal-based Last Word in Oaxaca. In Newport, there is a tequila for all.