September 16th came and went, and if you weren’t paying attention, you probably missed out on the fact that it was the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence. The celebrations and levels of awareness obviously varied depending upon what part of the country you’re in, but I would guess that where there was a celebration, there was tequila! Some of you were lucky enough to find your way to San Diego to attend the Spirits of Mexico event, which is basically the biggest annual tequila party thrown north of the border. Unfortunately, I don’t fall into that group. So instead, i attended a tequila sampling event here in Downtown Austin at Casa Chapala. The $12 ticket bought a souvenir shooter glass, hor’dourves and a stack of drink tickets. I love events like this because you can taste and compare a number of different tequilas together in one place for a great price.
Pouring on this night were Ambhar (Silver, Reposado, Añejo), Cazadores (R, A), El Gran Jubileo (S, XA), El Viejo Luis (S, R), Patron (S,R) and Republic (S, R, A and 4 mixers). That’s 14 different bottles to choose from! Throw in some tasty Mexican food, a couple free shirts, and a few surprises and it was a great way to spend an evening. I was able to taste most everything that was offered and walked away with a couple of noteworthy observations.
The new kid on the block was the El Viejo Luis and I was very impressed by their silver. Based on my conversation with one of the company reps that was there, it’s a brand that seems to have a significant history in the tequila business and is just now hitting the US market. I will definitely be taking a closer look at both the silver and the reposado in the coming weeks. This brand also has yet-to-be-released bottles of añejo, “gold”, extra añejo and a mixto. Bottles I’ll be keeping an eye out for.
Ambhar is another fairly new product which I have tasted once before in a restaurant. It’s bottle presentation is refined and elegant and the juice inside follows suit. I’ve seen it on a number of restaurant bar shelves but have yet to find it in a store. This is another brand that deserves a good long look – once I can find some locally to purchase!
The El Gran Jubileo and Republic bottles are already fixtures in my bar at home and two of my favorite brands. What caught me by surprise was that Republic was also tasting their new line of organic mixers. And these are not your everyday margarita mixers. With labels like Pineapple-Basil and Prickly Pear, these blends aim to bring to the home market some unique flavor options generally seen only in high-dollar specialty drinks prepared by mixologists. After tasting each of the four, they are all now on my shopping list to buy and investigate further. The Cazadores and Patron offerings were standard fare and nothing I got excited about. To close out the night, the Gran Jubileo 5-year Extra Añejo was a perfect choice. Leaving the event with shopping list in hand, I already know what my weekend plans will be…