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.