A relative of asparagus, hostas, and hyacinths, this Mexican native is transformed into tequila by chopping away the tough, spiny leaves and slowly roasting the heart. By law, tequila can only be made from A. tequilana ‘Weber Blue,’ a cultivar named after a French military physician and part-time botanist who was sent to Mexico under Napoleon III. He was the first to describe the plant in botanical literature.
Native to India and Southeast Asia, limes contain half the sugar of lemons and more rich, floral flavor molecules. A ripe lime is actually yellowish in color; they have to be picked slightly unripe to appear green in the grocery store.
Triple sec and other orange liqueurs get their flavor from the rinds of oranges so bitter that only their peels can be used.
The base alcohol in many orange liqueurs is distilled from sugar beets. The reason dates back to the Napoleonic wars, when blockades against the British made sugarcane scarce throughout Europe.