Born in the year of Bruce Lee in Romford, England to a family of musicians and preachers, Felipe always felt that there’s a mystique with tequila. As a kid in the back end of England, he soon found more tequilas, and more flavours.
Taking up the guitar showed him bars with different bottles. He’d ask about the colours and their meaning, but the answer was always hazy.
With his guitar as his constant travelling companion, he has played for martinis in Bangkok and mezcal in Cancun.
Somewhere on his journeys, his name changed from Phil to Felipe but that’s cool, he says, “the ancestry’s there, although the Spanish is broken enough only to get by.”
Tequila is still the taste he reaches for and he’s still on la guitarra with his band “Herida”. “We’re loud like blancos,” he warns.
A native of the Bay Area, Eric Zandona studied History at San Francisco State University (BA ’06, MA ’12), and lives in San Francisco’s Mission District with his wife Tia and their two sons. Eric work for American Distilling Institute as their Director of Spirits Information. In this position he oversee their annual judging of craft spirits, craft certification program as well as ADI’s online forum and maps of craft distilleries. In addition, Eric is a staff writer for Distiller magazine as well as an author and editor for ADI’s publishing division, White Mule Press.
Eric began the drinks blog EZdrinking in 2013 as a platform to share stories and his experiences drinking and learning about distilled spirits, wine and coffee. Living in San Francisco and working for ADI has provided quite a few opportunities to travel and speak with people at all levels in the beverage industry. His work can also be found on Liquor.com’s DrinkWire and he is a “Tequila Jockey” for Tequila Aficionado’s webseries Sipping off the Cuff. In addition to writing and talking about alcohol Eric is also a homebrewer and amateur winemaker.
Matt Metras works the bar at Salena’s Mexican Restaurant, where he curates the tequila menu and writes the in-house tasting notes and parings. He also teaches a monthly introduction to tequila tasting class, encouraging customers to put down the mixto and appreciate all 100% agave tequila has to offer.
In the summer of 2016, Matt spent a week in the town of Tequila working through every step of the process of making tequila, from harvesting agave to blending extra añejo barrels. Physically making tequila gave him an entirely new perspective on how much work goes into making great tequila.
When he is not sipping agave spirits, he enjoys playing guitar and traveling with his family.
David Dinius is a design engineer in the aerospace industry and product designer on the side. He is a certified expert in using the software needed for his craft, Solidworks. This has landed him a volunteer gig at the University of Nevada mentoring some of the young adults so they can get their engineering degrees.
In his spare time, he likes to attempt to stay upright on his mountain bike in the surrounding hills. He is also attempting to learn to play the drums. Most of these items he has learned to do on his own with no real instruction or teachings and he uses this same approach when it comes to tequila. Through reading and a vast amount of tasting, he knows what he likes. He is more than happy to share this with anyone who will sit, drink and listen to what is on his mind, be it out on the trails, at work, in a store, at a bar, or holed up in his garage banging on his drums.
Jim Johnston, born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, is a long time food and spirits enthusiast and a recent convert to the agave world. Having cooked and bartended professionally for several years, Jim’s first loves were scotch and wine. After a trip to New Mexico in 2014, a visit to Maria’s in Santa Fe changed his perception of agave spirits, and Jim became a disciple of agave and an evangelist for the healing power of a well-made margarita. Since then, Jim has preached the gospel of tequila and mezcal to anyone willing to listen, and especially to those who ask for a shot of the cheap stuff.
Jim is a digital media consultant and the founder of a golf course technology company based in Youngstown, Ohio. He is currently developing a Mexican/Asian fusion food truck concept, complete with mobile margaritas, debuting in summer of 2017. He is a member of the band, Seamus, and a fixture on patios and outdoor stages at local watering holes in the summer. He believes, deep in his heart, that he could easily take over for Jimmy Buffett whenever Mr. Buffett decides to retire (perhaps not musically, but definitely in terms of lifestyle). Jim enjoys a margarita after a long day of golfing, fishing, boating, cooking, and making music. He resides in Boardman, Ohio with his girlfriend, Julia.