Tag Archives: mezcal

Tequila Tapatío And The Source of Life

Welcome Back, Old Friend

Tapatío logo poster

Tapatío logo poster

On two separate occasions, Carlos Camarena, the third generation master distiller of El Tesoro de Don Felipe and the equally famous and classic Tequila Tapatío, stepped outside of Las Perlas mezcal and tequila bar in the heart of downtown Los Angeles to enjoy a cigarette.

Taking in the scenery of a chilly and overcast Sunday afternoon in early June, he witnessed the pursuit of a purse snatcher by LAPD, and then an attempted carjacking by another perpetrator while the police were arresting the purse snatcher!

Carlos smiled and shook his head.  Surrounded by movie cameras and flood lights outside the front entrance to Las Perlas, his only thought was…

Another average day in LA.

La Perla Tapatía

Once inside the rustic and darkly lit Las Perlas, one of the more complete tequila and mezcal bars in Los Angeles, one realized that the movie cameras weren’t there to record street crimes or another TV reality show.  They were there to film an historic event–

The triumphant entrance of  the iconic Tequila Tapatío into California and the rest of the United States.

The press wall.

The press wall.

Jeff Couch and Vaughn Halyard, the co-partners of Congenial Spirits, a nimble distributor focused on boutique, handcrafted spirits, and the chosen distributor for Tapatío, had the foresight to sense the importance of documenting its US premier, even adding a professional photographer and a press wall for that red carpet feeling.

The invitees, comprised of LA spirits industry professionals and mixologists, settled in and Raul Yrastorza, the general manager and curator of Las Perlas, began the introductions for this question and answer segment with the guests of honor.

The Charbay Connection

Producing wines, ports, liqueurs, aperitifs, vodkas, rums, and whiskies at the famed Charbay Winery & Distillery in St. Helena, CA, Marko Karakasevic is also the importer of Tapatío under his Marko K Spirits of California banner.

Marko, a bear of a man who looks more like a right tackle for the Oakland Raiders instead of a barely 40 year old 13th generation master distiller, jokingly explains:

“In a family of distillers, no fruit, no root, is safe.”

Here, Marko recounts his first meeting with Carlos Camarena that lead to his family being invited to distill its own brand of Charbay Tequila at La Alteña distillery.

Heads, Hearts & Tails

So what do master distillers talk about in the wee hours of the morning over endless tequila?  Distillation, of course!

Carlos Camarena and Marko Karakasevic tell the story of their awkward first encounter that turned into what can only be an enduring relationship based on mutual respect and admiration.

The Upside Down World of Agave Spirits

Carlos chuckled that Miles Karakasevic, Marko’s father, the retired 12th generation master distiller of Charbay, and he did not get along that evening.

Whenever Carlos tried to explain the physics and biochemistry of tequila distillation versus the distillation of other spirits, it was in complete contrast to Miles’ years of education. 

Bullshit was uttered more than once.

“It’s not right!” exclaimed Marko.

Carlos discusses the upside down world of agave spirits distillation in depth…

Why Did It Take So Long To Get Here?

On my first visit to La Alteña in 2006, I asked Carlos what would happen if there was a sudden demand in El Tesoro de Don Felipe.  Would he be able to fill orders, or be forced to cut corners?

He declared that at any given time, he had approximately one million liters of tequila in storage to handle any spike in demand.  There would never be any need to cut corners and suffer a loss in quality.  No doubt, his policy also carried over to the Tapatío brand.

Here, Carlos demystifies his reasons for taking almost 76 years to bring Tapatío into the US market, and gives a bit of family history, as well.

During the course of the question and answer session, Congenial Spirits’ Vaughn and Jeff made sure that each of the Tapatío expressions were being served to the crowd in specially branded Tapatío shot glasses, starting with the 80 proof blanco and ending with the stellar Tapatío 110 proof.

Sipping it immediately brought back fond memories of my first trip to La Alteña and tasting this tequila directly from the still.

It hadn’t changed a bit.

Cocktail Hour

Drinks menu

Drinks menu

Once the Q & A ended, it was time to unleash the infinite possibilities that Tapatío 110 could provide.  Amanda Gunderson, Tapatío’s brand ambassador and designer of the evening’s drinks menu, wowed the crowd with her signature cocktails.

Names like Lolita Swizzle and La Alteña guaranteed that everyone in attendance would get a feel of what it would be like to visit Tapatío’s legendary distillery.  To say that these cocktails were lethally delicious would be an understatement.

La Alteña signature cocktail.

La Alteña signature cocktail.

Be aware that Tapatío 110 proof will not only shine in your cocktail and take you back to the Highlands of Jalisco, but it will sing to you for the rest of the evening.  Definitely, sip wisely.

The Source Of Life

Since many in attendance weren’t as well versed in the science of distillation as Carlos and Marko were, I asked Camarena how he would define distillation to a lay person.

Here’s what he had to say…

When Tequila Tapatío can be considered the source of life on this planet, there can be no such thing as just an average day in LA–or anywhere else, for that matter.

***

View more photos of this momentous event on our Facebook page here.

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Founder’s Feature: Tequila Aficionado’s 1st Podcast, 7 Years Later

The preceding podcast was recorded by Tequila Aficionado’s Founder, Alexander Perez, on March 21, 2006.

Sadly, many brands still persist in the Tequila Girl marketing that Alex mentioned over seven years ago.  Some brands believe they’ve evolved and took it a step further with Tequila Boy marketing.  I believe the true aficionado finds both of these offensive.

True aficionados don’t buy their tequila based upon how attractive an ad model is.  It saddens me that so many brand marketers are stuck in the 1990s and won’t let go of this old advertising paradigm.

When all you put out there is co-ed bimbos doing shots, drinking from red Solo cups, or worse, from the bottle, you’re telling the world you don’t want your brand to be taken seriously.  I love a shirtless hunk as much as the next straight woman but don’t try to dazzle me with him while you pour cherry soda and light beer into a blender to hide the taste of your mass produced tequila.

Show me a brand owner, male or female, who is smart, savvy, self assured and passionate about their tequila and I’ll stop what I’m doing to listen.

Alex said “Tequila companies need to rethink their marketing tactics” and they still do.  The big boys are still marketing their swill with expensive distractions, but the little guys…we love the little guys here at Tequila Aficionado.  The little guys are slowly changing the tequila marketing landscape.

People like Alex Viecco at Montalvo who is also involved in programs to create biofuels from tequila production waste products; people like Sergio Olmos of Nuestro Orgullo who take up the banner for a family business and knock themselves out trying to create the best product possible, not for the money, but for family pride and love of agave spirits; people like Laurence Spiewak and Lance Sokol of Suerte who put thought and meaning into a logo rather than attempting to dazzle us with tits and ass.

Yes, there are still small brands that believe they can grow by emulating the big brands with sponsored DJs, rock bands, edgy artists, and girls with great plastic surgeons but they rarely make it past that crucial five-year threshold.  Superficiality attracts superficiality.  When your marketing involves pretty girls in club attire giving shots to partygoers who will quickly forget what they drank, then you must realize that your tequila will last only about as long as their buzz does.

I think we’re on the cusp of something, though.  It makes me very happy to see tequila brands that are finally letting the tequila do the talking.

As brands take themselves and their products more seriously, so too does the consumer.  People like Mary Clemente of Jurado Tequila are partnering with great chefs like Grant MacPherson.  Pairing dinners are becoming popular ways to market good tequilas and I hope they’ll soon take the place of trays of shot glasses.

People are beginning to appreciate what great tequila and tequila culture can bring to their lifestyle through books by authors like Lucinda Hutson.  Lucinda was well ahead of her time when she first began this journey, but perhaps tequila drinkers have grown up enough to become aficionados and truly appreciate the treasures she pens.

We welcome these changes at Tequila Aficionado.  Alex’s vision was that Tequila Aficionado become a resource for all things agave including mezcal, sotol and other agave spirits.  He wanted to interview people in the industry, people with a passion for fine tequilas, people breaking the old paradigms.  He wanted to provide honest discussions about the merits of particular spirits over tastings, not just a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” He envisioned an online resource that would bring depth to tequila culture.  He hoped to create in a magazine what a master distiller creates in a small batch, something that pleases the senses, enhances, informs, and provides the perfect finish that brings you back time and time again.

Something was missing in the mix all these years, but we believe we’ve finally found the right combination to bring that dream to fruition.

We have new Sipping off the Cuff episodes airing every week so you can taste along with us; bloopers and outtakes so you can laugh with us; Founder’s Features that are interviews and articles of significance to tequila history; Portraits in Tequila taking you beyond the label to see the story of the people behind the tequila; reviews of books on all aspects of tequila from dirt to drink and beyond; reviews on tequila related products like glassware and the foods, treats and cigars that can be paired with tequilas; articles on agave related industries; features on distilleries; and reviews of hotels and restaurants in Mexico’s tequila region.

We will always have a focus on the finished tequila product, but we’re deeper than that.  We’re no longer focusing simply on the finished tequila; we’re expanding to encompass all of tequila culture because, after all, it isn’t about just a quick shot –

It’s about the whole experience.

We look forward to sharing that experience with you.

Lisa Pietsch, COO

 

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Tequila Aficionado Introduces the Brands of Promise Awards

Tequila Aficionado’s Mike Morales explains the Tequila Aficionado Brands of Promise Awards.

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Hot Tequila News Coming Tomorrow!

newsThe first Tequila Aficionado Newsletter will be published tomorrow.  Don’t miss out on current news & reviews, great podcasts and articles from the archives, and hot tips on upcoming stories, features, contests, and giveaways!

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Tequila Week in Review: Avion, China, Camarena, Mezcal, Hacienda del Sol and Patron

In case you missed some of our articles over the past week, we’ve linked them here for you:

Sipping off the Cuff: Avion Tequila

It was Throwback Tuesday and we released this never before heard podcast from the tequila Aficionado vault.

China Opens Its Bars to Mexican Tequila – What Does This Mean For The Tequila Industry?

Tequila fan Rick Thibault Levy shared his opinion about this news item.  If you would like to share your opinion about this or other news items, feel free to visit our Contributors page for details on how to be a Tequila Aficionado Guest Contributor.

Tequila Aficionado Media Goes to the Ballpark With Camarena Tequila

As part of Camarena Tequila’s Step Up To The Plate promotion, Mike had the opportunity to enjoy a night at the ball park – with tequila!  He tells us all about the big event with this multi-media feature article.

Mezcal Production Drawing Mexicans Back Home

A great report by Lorne Matalon about how the growing market for Mezcal is creating jobs and happier families in Mexico.

Sipping off the Cuff: Hacienda del Sol Reposado

Hacienda del Sol Organic Tequila impressed Mike and Alex so much it was nominated for the 2013 Tequila Aficionado Brands of Promise Awards.

Tequila Revisited: A Redemption Story

Dan Pashman’s audio interview with Ilana Edelstein, author of The Patron Way.

 

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