Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Trader Joe's Distinqt Tequila Reposado and Trader Joe's Margarita Mixer

Since Sonia and I moved out of California and crossed the country, we haven't been able to get our hands on any alcoholic beverages from Trader Joe's...until now! To celebrate finally selling our old condo, we decided to check out the Princeton, NJ Trader Joe's, which surprisingly has an extensive selection of not only Three Buck Chuck, miscellaneous wines, and Trader José beers, but also Trader Joe's brand hard liquor! It's a bit of a trek from our new home—right across the river from Wilmington, Delaware—but we had to go up there for business anyway. We were completely overwhelmed with choices. But since it's still warm-ish and still September, the month of Mexican Independence, we decided that margaritas wouldn't be out of the question.

We were hoping to find some TJ's brand mezcal, a liquor native to Sonia's parents' home state of Oaxaca, Mexico. It's a smokey-tasting alcoholic drink made from a plant in the agave family. However, we selected another fine Mexican beverage: tequila! It wasn't cheap: $22 for the bottle. But tequila isn't something you can "go discount" on even if you wanted to. I'm no expert when it comes to hard liquor, but I couldn't tell the difference between Trader Joe's Distinqt and any other major brand I've ever tried, like José Cuervo or Sauza, which are all in the same ballpark price-wise.

Tequila's always a little harsh as a shot, but it mixed together beautifully with the margarita concoction. The best thing about the mix was the absence of high fructose corn syrup and weird artificial stuff, unlike a lot of other major brands. And unlike the tequila, the margarita mixer was very affordable at $2.49. We added a little salt on the rims of our glasses, poured both liquids on the rocks, and stirred. We skipped the triple sec this time around. It was delicious!

As with most margarita mixers, the sweetness of it offset the bitterness of the tequila. Along with the salt, it made for a wild rollercoaster of a ride for our taste buds. It's been over a year since my last visit to Margaritaville—and this will undoubtedly be my last until next summer at least, so I enjoyed it while it lasted. Since I lack the expertise to critically score a tequila, I'll go with a positive, yet not-overly-exuberant score of 4 stars. Sonia will match that. I think the margarita mixer deserves a little more since it meets the taste and quality standards of the other brands I've had, but does so with better ingredients. 4.5 from me. Sonia gives it 3.5, stating that it's a little too sweet for her tastes, and that it burns her throat slightly. (I think it was the tequila burning her throat.) 




Bottom line: Trader Joe's Distinqt Tequila: 8 out of 10 stars. 
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Margarita Mixer: 8 out of 10 stars.

10 comments:

  1. Ah thanks for the review, been looking for another tequila to try. Looking forward to more of your Spirit reviews.

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  2. Yer welcome. Thanks for reading :) We'll probably make Princeton runs once every few months or so...stay tuned!

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  3. We're 20 days, give or take, from a TJ's opening in my home town. Our state liquor laws won't allow them to put that in, but I'm arming myself with your reviews of everything else! Do you have a Must Have list I might have overlooked?

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    1. I know how you feel, Liz. My wife and I were in PA prior to NJ, and TJ's can't sell any alcohol there.

      Under "Ranking Roll Call" just click on "Pantheon Level" for a list of our highest-scoring items!

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    2. what;s the reason for the no alcohol in pa? I know there is an Amish community there, is that the reason?

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    3. Alcohol is just highly regulated in PA. Wine and spirits come from state-run stores and most places that sell beer can only sell them in cases. Not sure if it has anything directly to do with Amish...

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  4. There's a TJs in Marlton which might be closer than Princeton

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    1. Thanks, kelly. We had to go up there anyway for business reasons...

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  5. Welcome to our beloved Princeton Trader Joe's! We waited a long time for it, and it didn't even have alcohol the first year or so because of our archaic liquor laws. Finally, complete bliss.

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    1. You Princeton folks are lucky. Our closest NJ TJ's still doesn't have liquor, and none of the PA TJ's do either.

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