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The transformation of tequila: From hangover to highbrow

Journal of Consumer Culture

Published online on


This article examines the evolution of tequila’s reputation – from lowbrow to high class – in Mexico and the United States. Analyzing the content of novels, magazines, newspapers, ads, and song lyrics, it argues that the current cachet associated with tequila was influenced by a range of historical, political, and economic circumstances within and between Mexico and the United States. Specifically, transformations took place in three key phases including tequila’s: (1) increasing ties to national identity in Mexico; (2) changing perception – moving from feared to fun – in the United States; and (3) gaining of state-backed support and legislative protection. In explaining the shifting patterns of prestige, the roles of transnational circuits of consumption and production merit closer analysis in understanding the relations that shape cultural fields.