Tequila's Happy Hour

Mexico's national drink has suddenly become hip--which is putting its price up on the very top shelf

Did you spend last December stockpiling Champagne? Sucker. Instead of getting ready for a bubbly crisis that never came, you should have been stashing away the harder stuff, tequila. Since last year, farmers in and around the tequila-producing Mexican state of Jalisco have been facing shortages of agave, the spiky-leafed member of the lily family from which the spirit is distilled. Agave's price has leaped from about $40 a ton a year ago to a high of $560 a ton last December. If the shortage continues--and the agave plant's grandfatherly maturation time of eight to 12 years almost guarantees it will--Mexico's...

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