From Babes to Boss Ladies

Women in the Tequila Industry

The title of this book “From Babes to Boss Ladies” is a reflection of the evolution of the perceptionof women in the tequila, and other Mexican spirits, industry over the past several decades.  

This book is being published in an effort to recognize, respect and pay tribute to the contributions of modern women in the industry and to destroy the stereotypes of the “Tequila Girl”.  Nothing in the text of this book could be implied or construed as disempowering to women. 

I first met outspoken botanist and author Ana Valenzuela in the mid-2000s on a trip to tequila distilleries in Jalisco, Mexico.  The respect and admiration this dynamo received from the male tequila producers and agaveros (agave farmers) for both her palate and plant acumen was awe inspiring.

I was determined to uncover more women in the tequila industry like her.  I figured I could learn something valuable from them that would improve my understanding of this complex world of tequila.

At that time, I was aware of only two others involved with tequila–

Carmen Villarreal and Ana Maria Romero Mena.  Both are included in this anthology.

Working Behind the Scenes

Unbeknownst to me, much like the Tequila Vinazas Crisis that I have previously exposed, women in the tequila industry were concealed from public view.

Marketing agencies hadn’t even considered advertising female master distillers as a selling point for tequila brands, preferring to concentrate instead on displaying scantily clad models.

In what was then a very male-dominated tequila industry, I had the feeling that there were women striving in the shadows waiting to be seen, heard, recognized and acknowledged.

A Woman’s Touch

Over these past few years, it has been gratifying to discover that there were plenty of women working in the Mexican spirits industries all along, guiding some of the most beloved tequila brands on the market.

And now, with the booming mezcal market and other Mexican spirits segments that have historically been inclusive of women, we are seeing more of them come to the forefront of their brands.

Pearls of Wisdom

In structuring the questionnaire, my mission was simple:  Ask what they’re happy with, or not, and what is their ultimate message–not just to women, but to all people.

What I found most interesting was in translating the Spanish only answers to English.  The more of these that I completed, the more I was gifted with a glimpse into each woman’s thought processes.

When I finished the translations, I realized that I had been handed pearls of wisdom and inspiration in each response.

Regardless of gender or language, there are lots of gems of knowledge included in the answers to our five simple questions.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of all of the women in the Agave Spirits industries. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Estimado Pendejo: Confessions of a Tequila Mad Man

Tequila Aficionado Review of Estimado Pendejo:

Estimado Pendejo: Confessions of a Tequila Mad Man by Jose Quinones. These are just a few of the stories I can tell you about my time in the tequila advertising game. It’s been a long and crazy ten years since I left college starry-eyed and expecting to do good things for mi gente and the spirit of Mexico.   I started watching Mad Men during my senior year in college and prayed to La Virgincita that I could be the Latino Don Draper someday.   The Virgin has a sense of humor.   Instead of the Latino Don Draper, I’m a bitter, thirty-something, Les Grossman selling street tacos out of a truck.   Jose “Pepe” Quinones  *Note* If foul language and Spanglish offend you, don't buy this book. Just. Don't.

“This is Grimm’s fairy tales for Mexican spirits. Tragicomedy that defines the agave spirits industry more than any of us would like to admit. You could pour a glass of tequila and enjoy a laughternoon with this book, or you could look beyond the snark and see the thriller of a career that Pepe is just grateful to have survived.
It is also a set of cautionary tales for brands attempting their own marketing without a knowledgeable sounding board or coherent strategy.”
~ Lisa Pietsch, Social Media Strategist,
Co-Owner Tequila Aficionado Media

 

From Author Pepe Quinones:

Jose "Pepe" QuinonesThese are just a few of the stories I can tell you about my time in the tequila advertising game. It’s been a long and crazy ten years since I left college starry-eyed and expecting to do good things for mi gente and the spirit of Mexico.

I started watching Mad Men during my senior year in college and prayed to La Virgincita that I could be the Latino Don Draper someday.

The Virgin has a sense of humor.

Instead of the Latino Don Draper, I’m a bitter, thirty-something, Les Grossman selling street tacos out of a truck.

– Jose “Pepe” Quinones

*Note* If foul language and Spanglish offend you, don’t buy this book. Just. Don’t.

New Release: Social Media Marketing Playbook for Tequila and Mexican Spirits

Social Media Marketing Playbook for Tequila and Mexican Spirits:

Straight talk and comprehensive checklists to keep your brand on track

The Tequila and Mexican spirits industries are complicated businesses that eat their young. The last thing brands are thinking about while wading through all that red tape is their social media platforms.

When sales are an imperative, social media marketing should be the first thing on one’s mind.

In the Social Media Marketing Playbook for Tequila and Mexican Spirits, you’ll get straight talk about the whys, hows, and exactly what tequilas and agave spirits brands should be doing with their social media marketing and comprehensive checklists for each social network to keep brands on track.

While this book is aimed at brands and their social media management teams, it also provides invaluable advice to bloggers, influencers, distillers, importers, liquor stores, bars and restaurants for growing their Mexican spirit based platforms.

A companion course with hands-on, step-by-step coaching will be coming in 2019.

Lisa Pietsch is the Chief Marketing Officer of Tequila Aficionado Media.

Tequila Aficionado has been publishing spirits industry news, Mexican spirit reviews on tequila, mezcal, sotol, bacanora, raicilla, agave spirits and other Mexican spirits, and interviews with growers, distillers, brand owners and brand ambassadors throughout the Mexican spirits industries for the past 20 years.

Having seen so many brands fail for overlooking their social media management and marketing while growing Tequila Aficionado’s organic reach to millions of Mexican spirit aficionados, Lisa is in a unique position to share her expertise and provide step-by-step instructions on how not to fail at your brand’s social media.

New Release: From Babes to Boss Ladies

tequila boss ladies

From Babes to Boss Ladies:

The women who contribute to and create tequila, mezcal, sotol, bacanora and other Mexican spirits (Profiles in Tequila Book 1) 

Women in the Tequila Industry

 

I first met outspoken botanist and author Ana Valenzuela in the mid-2000s on a trip to tequila distilleries in Jalisco, Mexico.  The respect and admiration this dynamo received from the male tequila producers and agaveros (agave farmers) for both her palate and plant acumen was awe inspiring.

I was determined to uncover more women in the tequila industry like her.  I figured I could learn something valuable from them that would improve my understanding of this complex world of tequila.

At that time, I was aware of only two others involved with tequila–

Carmen Villarreal and Ana Maria Romero Mena.  Both are included in this anthology.

 

Working Behind the Scenes

Unbeknownst to me, much like the Tequila Vinazas Crisis that I have previously exposed, women in the tequila industry were concealed from public view.

Marketing agencies hadn’t even considered advertising female master distillers as a selling point for tequila brands, preferring to concentrate instead on displaying scantily clad models.

In what was then a very male-dominated tequila industry, I had the feeling that there were women striving in the shadows waiting to be seen, heard, recognized and acknowledged.

 

A Woman’s Touch

Over these past few years, it has been gratifying to discover that there were plenty of women working in the Mexican spirits industries all along, guiding some of the most beloved tequila brands on the market.

And now, with the booming mezcal marke

t and other Mexican spirits segments that have historically been inclusive of women, we are seeing more of them come to the forefront of their brands.

Pearls of Wisdom

In structuring the questionnaire, my mission was simple:  Ask what they’re happy with, or not, and what is their ultimate message–not just to women, but to all people.

What I found most interesting was in translating the Spanish only answers to English.  The more of these that I completed, the more I was gifted with a glimpse into each woman’s thought processes.

 

When I finished the translations, I realized that I had been handed pearls of wisdom and inspiration in each response.

Regardless of gender or language, there are lots of gems of knowledge included in the answers to our five simple questions.

This isn’t a comprehensive list of all of the women in the Agave Spirits industries. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

 

Review of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico

Review of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5Q1There are too many fascinating facets to Marie Sarita Gaytan’s book, Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico.

Gaytan takes the reader on a sweeping journey of Aztec myths and legends, pre-and post colonial occupation; from the Mexican Revolution to Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema, all the way up to 2014, the date of the book’s publication.

Written in an academic-style format, complete with footnotes and references, one realizes the scope of Gaytan’s daunting undertaking–

Detailing tequila’s trajectory from a drink just for “country people” to the spirit of a nation.

In every epoch explored, the author pinpoints where tequila (and pulque and mezcal) fit into the overall image of lo mexicano—what Ms. Gaytan refers to as “an idea, a sensibility, and the fiction that there exists a collective, unified Mexican national consciousness. The notion that there is one true way of being Mexican….”

Some of the memorable highlights exposed are:

–Pulque was seen as “associated with native identity and urban unrest” and “made it an unlikely contender to symbolize the modernizing [Mexican] nation.”

–Likewise, mezcal was seen as lacking the “symbolic capital” necessary to represent Mexico.

–Pancho Villa’s reputation as a violent bandit fueled by excessively drinking tequila was actually an image made up by the American Media, most notably, the Los Angeles Times, which arguably may have cost him his life.

–Mexican cinema (1936-1969), and its popular charro icons like Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante, managed to indelibly imprint “macho” images and gender roles between men and women. Yet, there were a handful of women on screen, as well as on stage and in radio, who at the time successfully pushed the limits of these gender roles.

–The jimador, the Aztec goddess Mayahuel, and even the Virgen de Guadalupe have each been used to “portray Mexico as a simultaneously modern, unified and prestigiously prehistoric,” as well as, “…fostering the perception of a nostalgic indigenous past [that] is crucial for appearing to unite the population under a single—and easily commodified—Mexican identity.”

–Mexican state and federal officials, executives of transnational tequila companies, and the tourism industry help to fashion tequila as “…a vital and vibrant symbol of the nation.”

–Through the use of programs like the Distintivo T and others, individuals are recruited to “demonstrate their commitment not only to tequila but to the nation [of Mexico] itself.”

The most intriguing section of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico, is by far the interviews Ms. Gaytan conducted with several individuals that examined consumers’ drinking traditions on both sides of the border.

Considering the current political climate between the United States and Mexico, and the present uncertainty surrounding NAFTA, the outcomes of these interviews prove to be culturally enlightening.

Here’s a hint…

Take a look at the substantial footnotes and references listed at the end of Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico. You are sure to come across several books and published papers that you might feel compelled to investigate yourself.

Among them are several solid resources from Ana Valenzuela Zapata, Sarah Bowen, and Ms. Gaytan herself, who have each been featured on Tequila Aficionado’s Women in The Tequila Industry series.

Our apologies to Ms. Gaytan for being so tardy in insisting that every student of tequila, and lover of Mexico, should include this extremely important book in your personal reference libraries.

Tequila!  Distilling the Spirit of Mexico is available at Amazon.com and other booksellers in both ebook and hardcopy.

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4juThere are few books on the subject of Tequila that are considered classics.  The Book Of Tequila by the late, great Bob Emmons, stands out as the most essential for any student of agave spirits.

I consider Emmons the first, true Tequila Journalist.  He was the first American author to demystify the much maligned Mexican tipple, and give it its rightful place among other elite sipping spirits.

Even posthumously, Emmons’ tome is so sought after that it is almost impossible to buy in paperback, let alone in hardcover.  Obtaining a used copy, in any condition, is like discovering a treasure bottle of Porfidio Barrique, and just as pricey.

Ian Williams’ Tequila:  A Global History, is not that kind of book–

But it could be.

What’s Left?

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4ju

To say that Emmons volume was ahead of its time goes without saying.

Chock-full of such useful information as addresses of the then existing distilleries, to the history of tequila, and even drinks recipes, Emmons covered it all.

So, what’s left to report?

Everything!

The Rest of The Story

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4ju
The late Bob Emmons.

Since the first printing of Emmons’ book in April 1997,  coinciding with the bilateral agreement between Mexico and the European Union that recognized tequila’s and mezcal’s denominations of origin a month later,  the Tequila Industry has boomed and busted at least twice, maybe even three or four times.

And Agave Spirits, in general, has zoomed to the forefront of every mixology menu riding the wave of an unprecedented global cocktail craze.

That’s where  Williams’ Tequila:  A Global History steps in.

Have A Drink!

Sadly, Emmons is no longer on this earthly plane to have a drink with and to discuss the dawning of the growth of the Tequila Industry.  Ian Williams, on the other hand, is alive and well and free for a drink!

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4ju
Ian Williams, author of Tequila: A Global History.

We asked Ian to join us on Open Bar to discuss Tequila:  A  Global History.  You can view that episode here or read on.

A wordsmith of the most delightful kind, the affable Williams literally embodies the voice and narrative of his book.  With a sly smile and a gleam in his eye, this witty Brit kept us in stitches, sumptuously entertaining us with his tequila and mezcal travel tales.

Something For Everyone

His information isn’t just historically priceless (his interview with the controversial pariah Martin Grassl, innovator of Porfidio tequila, alone is

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4ju
Porfidio Barrique

worth the purchase price), but also timely.

Williams deftly discusses the contentious implications of the recently tabled NOM 199 facing the Mezcal Industry and explains the true meanings of the newest designations (ancestral, traditional, artisanal, and industrial) that marketers have diluted into buzzwords to drive the craft spirits sensation.

He skillfully weaves the known Mayan, Olmec and Aztec chronology with current archaeological discoveries of Asian influenced distillation methods that stand to rewrite that history and the part played by the Spanish conquistadors.

And for Millennials seeking to educate themselves, Williams tackles sustainability issues, organic agave spirits, premiumization in the agave spirits market, and the sexiness of the agave plant itself.  Even photos and cocktail recipes are included.

Mr. Williams does all this while craftily drawing parallels and similarities from his whisk(e)y, scotch and rum experiences (see Rum:  A Social and Sociable History) as well as touching on other Mexican spirits like sotol and bacanora.

Tequila: A Global History by Ian Williams http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4ju

If Bob Emmons’ quintessential primer is considered The Greatest Tequila Story Ever Told, then Ian Williams’ Tequila:  A Global History, could be its worthy sequel in a continuing agave saga.

The Montelobos Mezcal Project

[After The San Antonio Cocktail Conference held in January, 2015, Tequila Aficionado Media caught up with Dr. Iván Saldaña, producer of the upstart mezcal, Montelobos, a partnership project with the makers of Milagro tequila.  A featured speaker during the conference, here’s our in-depth discussion held at the bar of the lavish Westin Riverwalk Hotel.]

La Anatomia del Mezcal

Iván Saldaña (Photo courtesy of David Suro)
Iván Saldaña (Photo courtesy of David Suro)

In Dr. Iván Saldaña’s nifty little primer, The Anatomy Of Mezcal–which, by the way, belongs in every serious agave students’ reference library–he goes to great lengths to demystify maguey (agave) and mezcal in a concise and easy-to-understand fashion. As an introduction into the fundamentals of mezcal, the book covers it all, from what it is to how it’s processed.  Saldaña also defines the differences of artisanal mezcals distilled in palenques and haciendas from those using industrial methods. The latter is a situation currently being hotly contested inside the Mezcal Industry as it tries to cope with its alarming expansion without repeating the mistakes made by the Tequila Industry while still in its infancy.

A Double PhD.

Montelobos_ABVFrom his research, Saldaña asserts that the maguey plant efficiently evolves when affected by environmental stress.  It is precisely the plant’s adaptability to extreme conditions that makes it not only a versatile prime material for tequila and mezcal production, but also gives it its unique flavors and aromas that set it apart from other spirits. The same could be said about Iván’s versatility as a passionate scientist, researcher, environmentalist and mezcal developer who prefers to be challenged to come up with unique solutions. Here, Dr. Saldaña elaborates on his academic background leading to his PhD. In this segment, Iván recounts how his wine and spirits experience working for global distiller, Pernod Ricard, led to a craving to create something more intrinsically fulfilling.

My Way

Montelobos_derecho

Taking a lesson from Frank Sinatra, Iván explains what it was like to compose a mezcal like Montelobos without following any commercial guidelines.

Montelobos Explained

Iván has been quoted as insisting that “Mezcal is too often dominated by either an excessive smokiness or inopportune proportions.”  In his quest for the perfectly balanced mezcal, he concentrated on bringing forth Montelobos’ sweeter notes, along with citrus and smoke using cultivated espadin. 006The successful result garnered Montelobos a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013. Not wanting to create a single faceted mezcal, or replicating an old family recipe, Dr. Saldaña further breaks down Montelobos’ complexities.

The Value of Innovation

Dr. Saldaña produced his mezcal under the guidance of fifth generation Maestro Mezcalero, Don Abel López Mateos, but still believed in exploration and experimentation when designing its unique flavor profile.  Coupled with innovation, Iván contends that Montelobos is not about science, but about passion.

43.2 ABV

Montelobos_label   Iván explains how he arrived at the perfect 43.2% (86.4 proof) alcohol by volume to achieve the flavors and aromas unique to Montelobos.    

Sustainability

Agave_MontelobosNot only vigilant on creating Montelobos his way, Dr. Saldaña was also concerned about its environmental footprint on Oaxaca where it is distilled. Montelobos uses only organic, commercially grown espadin, certified so by certifying agency, Certimex.  Iván also makes sure that the wood used in roasting the espadin comes from a sustainable source.

The Universe Within the Universe

Dr. Iván Saldaña’s expedition into the anatomy of mezcal is by no means over. He confessed to having an urge to distill other variations of Montelobos that would emphasize additional flavors and aromas often hidden in traditional mezcal flavor profiles. For the time being, he prefers to continue to examine and discover the world within the world of mezcal.

Cleo Rocos’ Perspective and Bartenders’ Wisdom

keys to happiness, cleo rocos, tequila

Cleo Rocos and Alex Perez agree: Sip Wisely!

Do tequila aficionados the world over a service and help the uninitiated learn the correct way to drink tequila:

  • Only drink 100% Blue Weber Agave tequilas
  • Sip, don’t shoot.
  • Have a glass of water between drinks to stay hydrated.

The Power of Positive Drinking

Cleo Rocos of AquaRiva Tequila has some wonderful recommendations in her book “The Power of Positive Drinking”. 

Look for our review coming soon!

the power of positive drinking, cleo rocos “This isn’t a guide on how to get drunk. This is a master class on how to drink and be merry,” said Rocos.

“I want to teach you how to drink successfully. How to reach that delicious level of intoxication where you and your fellow drinkers become the favourite versions of ourselves and stay there.”cleo rocos, aquarive tequila

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Review of Grant MacPherson’s Word of Mouth by Lisa Pietsch

grant macpherson, chef, morgan freemanOne of the benefits of working at Tequila Aficionado is that we’re often privy to tequila scuttlebutt.  When I heard whispers that Mary Clemente, boss lady of Jurado Tequila, was working on something with well-travelled celebrity Chef Grant MacPherson, I had to know more.

It isn’t just about the tequila for me.  My interest lies in all that is Tequila Culture – the people, history, places, and pairings that make up what our CEO, M.A. “Mike” Morales calls the “Anejo Lifestyle.”

The pairing of exclusive, ultra premium Jurado Tequila with world class Chef Grant MacPherson was news that definitely piqued my interest.

word of mouth, cooking, food, grant macpherson, jurado tequilaAfter a bit of Googling, I discovered Chef MacPherson had recently released a book entitled “Word of Mouth,” so I brazenly asked for a review copy.  In the publishing industry, handing out PDF versions of advance reading copies (ARCs) for review is commonplace.  What I didn’t expect was to receive a signed hardcover copy from Chef MacPherson himself.

Reading Word of Mouth, I realized the passion and care that goes into a well-crafted tequila is the same that goes into a well-crafted meal–both are art forms.

terroir, grant macpherson, chef, foodMacPherson considers the terroir of the foods he sources in the same way a Master Distiller considers the source of his or her agave.  Whether you’re distilling a fine agave spirit or preparing an herb-crusted rack of lamb, as you’ll find on page 88, the true artist ensures every ingredient is the finest available so that he can create something unlike any other.

Jurado’s tagline is “Let taste be the judge.”   Mary Clemente is taking that a step further by enlisting the talents of a top chef who regularly cooks with wine, vodka, and Scotch, and plans to let him innovate epicurean masterpieces with Jurado Tequila.

macpherson, chef, jurado tequilaI would love to be at the chef’s table the evening he premiers that menu!

Word of Mouth is an eclectic compilation that is part resume of the positions MacPherson has held at exclusive resorts, part gratitude for all the mentors and management who have had a part in his career, part who’s-who of the superstar chefs he’s butted heads and knocked elbows with, and part endorsements from the many who have had the pleasure of working with him.

Jurado Tequila will be so exclusive that it will only be available through duty free retail stores in certain countries for those with the means and sophistication to travel internationally.  One of Chef MacPherson’s dishes in Word Of Mouth is likely to be just as rare a find.

chef grant macphersonFor those of us who may not have the opportunity to dine at Chef MacPherson’s table, Word of Mouth teases us with some luxurious and artistically presented dishes such as Singapore Chili Crab, Eight-Hour Golden Pineapple, and Maine Lobster Scotch Eggs that only the most brave and adventuresome will attempt to recreate.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention presentation in my discussion of Word of Mouth.  Photographer Bill Milne has supplied each page with a stunning image related to each dish and meal creation.

This is the Anejo Lifestyle at its finest.

Word Of Mouth isn’t just a cookbook, homage, or resume.  The entire piece is an opus, packed with stunning images meant to spur discussions of world travel, meals enjoyed, and the friends one meets along the way.

It’s the sort of book we might browse and discuss while enjoying a treasure bottle of tequila with cherished friends.  Gratefully, Mary Clemente has persuaded Chef MacPherson to add premium Jurado Tequila to his artist’s palette so he might lend his talents to Tequila Culture and lead the way for other chefs to explore agave spirits and bring them into the mainstream for all to appreciate and enjoy.

Mary Clemente gets her close-up.Word of Mouth isn’t just a book; it is an experience for the senses, something tequila aficionados worldwide can certainly appreciate.      

If you’re wondering what Mary Clemente has up her sleeve, stay tuned. I’ll get it out of her eventually!

You can find Jurado Tequila at www.juradotequila.com and Chef Grant MacPherson at www.scotchmyst.com

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Tequila Revisited: A Redemption Story

patron way, ilana edelstein, patron tequila, tequila, book reviewsDan Pashman of The Sporkful did an audio interview with Ilana Edelstein, author of The Patron Way. We felt it was worth sharing since we’d recently reviewed Ilana’s book.

You can read Lisa’s full review here.

Click here for the audio of Dan Pashman’s interview.

 

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