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One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor!

Joanne Weir: Women love tequila, too.

By Joanne Weir

It all started several years ago when an invitation arrived in my mailbox on Pine Street beckoning me to the launch of a spiffy new tequila in a sexy square bottle.

It took place at Tommy’s, the well-known tequila bar out on Geary, and was mostly men who were sniffing and swirling their glasses of tequila. But the few women who were there were just as enthusiastic.

I discovered that night that women love tequila just as much as men. They go out with their girlfriends for margaritas, and they also savor tequila straight-up with meals, drink it slowly from a snifter and enjoy it mixed into new, innovative, seasonal cocktails. I was thrilled by the camaraderie among these women and pleased to learn that I wasn’t the only one out there who liked a beverage that had long been considered the domain of men.

Tequila has been transformed from “One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor!” to the preferred libation of the hip, urban professional who enjoys it for sipping. Who ever thought that we’d be doling out 20 bucks for a shot? People are drinking tequila for more occasions and experimenting with new labels outside the established names. They’re learning that 100 percent agave tequila is pretty special stuff. And that there’s a tequila for everyone: blanco, reposado and añejo, extra añejo, highlands and lowlands.

It came to me that tequila had an alter ego, a more sophisticated, more complex side and I wasn’t the only one who was curious about it. So I created a group called Agave Girls to help women share their enthusiasm for fine tequila and to dispel the myth that a night of drinking it inevitably leads to a morning of regret and aspirin. We’d grown up — and just like tequila, we wanted to be taken seriously.

What started as a few women sitting around sipping añejo developed into a group of several hundred very enthusiastic women who not only like tequila, but appreciate its range and nuances. It didn’t take much to get these women excited about tequila and Agave Girls. All I did was ask the simple question — “Do you like tequila?” — and the list of women kept growing. Agave Girls now hosts a wide range of events from tequila seminars to tequila-and-food-pairing events and excursions to Mexico. All support the group’s mission: bringing professional women together in a noncompetitive atmosphere to learn about this oft-misunderstood spirit.

With such momentum and enthusiasm for the subject, I was inspired to write a tequila primer, “Tequila: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails and Bites,” which has just been released. It includes 25 recipes for delicious food to pair with tequila and 35 cocktails from the best tequila bartenders in the country — several from right here in San Francisco, and a few by yours truly.