-- by Charlotte Duston
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IMPORTING across the border:
Generally, one liter per person may be entered into the U.S. duty-free by travelers who are 21 or older, although travelers coming from the U.S. Virgin Islands or other Caribbean countries are entitled to more. (Yeah, right, we just came back from the Caribbean via Tijuana, officer heh heh heh....)
It is not legal for travelers under the age of 21 to import alcohol - even as a gift. So don't stupidly think you can bring in a liter for every child you bring to Tijuana for a shopping spree... and we HAVE heard people tell THAT story many, many times... still...
Where to buy:
As with wine, buying liquor in the supermarkets like Gigante or Calimax, or in the superstores like Ley or Comercial Mexicana, can give you some of the widest selections and fairest deals. Of course, we're talking about Mexican liquor like tequila, mescal or one of the national brandies, although some of the foreign imports (not from U.S.) like caribbean rum are good deals, too, since you pay import duties on those when you buy them in the United States. But U.S. whiskies and such are not really a savings as even with "free trade" (nafta) you still must pay for the cost of transport and import.
But Mexican liquors, like the beautiful, smooth or sharp, mellow or strong, TEQUILAs -- there are dozens to choose from -- are pretty good buys. Expect to pay ten to fifteen dollars, or more, for an 800 mililiter bottle, and more for a liter (roughly a quart), and more for the really premium liquors like Cuervo Presidencial or Don Julio or Alcatraz (an incredible smooth sipping tequila in a tall, blue bottle).
REMEMBER you cannot bring much more than one liter into the U.S. without paying duty. And if you try to bring in a lot they may think you are doing it for a business and hold your bottles until you cough up an importer's permit. *Sigh*
Ooooo there are so many. Of course any common drinker worth her (okay, boys, or his) salt knows Cuervo ("crow") gold or white. But there are so many others, Hornitos, Xalisco, Don Julio (expensive and delicious), Herradura, and one brand we have NEVER seen sold in the U.S. but which a lot of our Mexican friends drink: el Jimador (comes in white or gold).
Well, añejo means like "aged" and reposado means like "reposed" but we're not savvy enough to tell you what it means. Something to do with sugar.
[PHIL: put in some links to other, real tequila sites here??]
[CHARLOTTE: okay. see if we can find some]
One way to sample various tequilas is to go to a bar and SLOWLY Sip & Savor several shots with a friend and talk about what you experience (but WATCH OUT & don't be driving!!!!). AND by the way, think about having a tomato/chili based chaser juice drink (like la Viuda) to sip after every sip of tequila. Like pamper your palate like a lady (or gentleman) yeahhhh.... ahhhh......
Depending on what kind of bar you go to (avoid cheaper dives/holes down in the redlight zone who might adulter/water/cheat you -- stick to the middle and highclass spots) you will pay anything from two dollars a shot to five. Cesar's bar, for example, in the hotel on Revolution between 4th and 5th, usually has a good selection but they'll charge you more than the Patio/Turistico halfway up plaza Santa Cecilia on the left from the big metal arch. But then, Cesar's has history and ambience and sits right on Revolución, while the Turistico is a classic cantina with an actual shrine area in back and a healthy mix of working people and artists, and as near as we can tell, the tequilas are really what the lables say -- they taste right, each different and good.
Any fancy or semi-fancy restaurant downtown or in the river zone, which has a bar and cocktail lounge, will have a good selection of tequilas for your drinking pleasure at anything from three dollars a shot and on up up up. Besides that, most of these clubs have musical entertainment in the evenings.
Tijuana Gringo : Touristic Information
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