I saw ET founder Clayton Szczech called a tequila expert. What does that mean?

“i’ve never called myself an expert, in tequila, or anything,” says ET founder Clayton. “While the term has been used in the media, I call myself a ‘tequila specialist.’ This is what I do – I don’t do beer, wine or whiskey.” Clayton’s qualifications as a tequila educator, ambassador and taster including training and recognition from the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT), the Mexican Academy of Tequila, and maestra tequilera Ana María Romero Mena.

Is Mexico safe?

In a word, yes. According to United Nations and Interpol statistics, in 2000 (the last year for which data were available), the US crime rate was nearly 5 times that of Mexico. That said, it is true that Mexico is currently experiencing a wave of drug-related violence.

The vast majority of the violence occurs in areas that are at the heart of the drug trade — primarily near the US border (Tijuana, Monterrey, Ciudad Juárez, etc). Our trip takes place 900 miles south of the border in a region with far lower concentrations of drug trafficking, production and the related violence.

In any case, almost all drug violence involves people involved in the drug trade, police, soldiers, journalists, and their families. While this is horrific, it is also true that foreigners are largely unaffected. It is easy to find trouble in Mexico, and equally easy to avoid it. In over 15 years of living, working and traveling in Mexico, we have never had a single problem, and neither have our clients.

What kind of people go on your tours?

Are tours are designed for anyone and everyone who is excited by the trip descriptions. Individuals, couples and small groups of friends are welcome. Guests should be in reasonably good physical condition, as there is some walking involved and Mexican sidewalks aren’t always in the best shape. The people most likely to enjoy this trip are laid-back, fun and take their food and drink seriously. They want to relax and have a good time, but learn something authentic in the process. If you are looking for a spring break/ “Girls Gone Wild” / booze cruise type of thing, this is not it.

What about tipping in Mexico?

As in America, workers in the service and hospitality industry are modestly compensated at best and depend on tips for their survival. It is appropriate to tip waitstaff, taxi drivers and housekeeping staff. While 10% is a good general guide, employees in fancier restaurants usually get a percentage more on par with American tips, and in more modest eateries, leaving what change you have handy usually suffices.

Will I be able to use the Internet in Mexico?

Yes. Internet cafes are widespread and economical, and all hotels on Experience Tequila tours have wireless Internet access.

Can I use my cell phone in Mexico?

Probably, but you’ll have to check with your wireless company. Most people find that making or receiving cell phone calls is prohibitively expensive, but texting is affordable. When you want to call home, I recommend using a phone card you can buy at any convenience store, and a public phone. It is considerably cheaper. If you need privacy, you can pay a bit more and use a private booth at a business that sells long distance phone calls, or use the phone in your hotel room.

Do I need a special electrical adaptor to plug things in?

Mexico operates on the same type of current as the US. So if you are coming from the US or Canada, your alarm clock, shaver, blow dryer, etc. will work just fine. You may want to bring an adaptor that converts a grounded (three-prong) cord to an ungrounded (two-prong) cord, since ungrounded outlets are common in Mexico. If you are going to bring a laptop for some reason, I strongly recommend a surge protector, as power surges are more common in Mexico.

Do I need a passport to go to Mexico?

Yes. As of June 2009, even US citizens and legal residents need a passport to re-enter the US from Mexico. Citizens and residents of other countries probably need a visa as well. Check with the Mexican Consulate in your country, or contact us for assistance.

Does tequila give you a worse hangover than other liquors?

There is no reason why that should be true, for as much as some people will swear it. Hangovers result from alcohol intoxication, which of course can happen with any kind of booze. It is always a good idea to moderate your drinking, eat food, drink a glass of water for every tequila you have, and take some ibuprofen before bed. Personally, I find that 100% agave tequila treats my body more gently than anything else (after all, its only ingredients are agave and water). Drinking too much of a reposado or añejo is likely to give you a worse hangover than drinking too much of a blanco (since the former two soak up attributes of the oak barrels), but at the end of the day, if you drink a whole bottle, you’re probably going to get hung over! Should this happen to you, the good news is that Mexico is full of folk hangover remedies and everyone loves to share the one their abuelito taught them.

Does or should tequila have a worm in the bottle?

No, not ever. That’s mezcal (see below).

What’s the difference between tequila and mezcal?

The short answer is that tequila is a type of mezcal, and that most mezcals are not tequila. Mezcal is a distilled spirit made from dozens of the hundreds of types of agave, and the agave is generally cooked in a covered pit. Tequila (once called “mezcal wine” and “Tequila mezcal”) is a distilled spirit made only from blue Weber agave under the norms established by the Mexican government.