The Food & Wine Magazine Tasting by Ron Cooper

Originally Posted March 2, 2001


By Ron Cooper
Special to

ron cooper, del magueyAspen Colorado, June 9-11. The high mountain weather was great. This truly amazing annual event sponsored by Food & Wine Magazine is achieved with the help of hundreds of well-organized, enthusiastic volunteers from Colorado and all over the US.

There were several thousand great Wines, Sherry’s, Ports, Champagnes and Microbrews; delicious Meats, Cheeses, Breads, Coffees, Desserts; beautiful functional Tools & Equipment. Three days was insufficient to try them all under two gigantic luminous tents on the grass at Wagner Park.

The over 300 exhibitors from more than a dozen countries were joined by fifty writers, chefs, sommeliers, restauranteurs and food experts that presented an average of 10 simultaneous cooking demonstrations, educational seminars and round table discussions on food and wine graciously hosted in restaurant, hotel and public spaces throughout the town continually from 8 am to 5 pm.

Presenting Speakers:
marioMario Batali, Sissy Biggers, Bartholomew Broadbent, Derek B. Bromley, Rory Callahan, Loret Carbone, Robert Del Grande, Peter Elliot, Todd English, Bobby Flay, Claudia Flemming, Evan Goldstein, Stephen Hanson, Ursula Hermacinski, Judith Hill, Marty Horn, Andrea Immer, Steven Jenkins, Thomas Keller, Michael Klauber, Emeril Lagasse, Paul Lightfoot, Zarela Martinez, Dennis Max, Elin McCoy, Danny Meyer, Mary Ewing Mulligan, Steve Olson, Crolyn O’Neil, Claudine Pépin, Jacques Pépin, Dan Phillips, Steven Raichlen, Aaron Sanchez, David Scholefield, Stephen Scoble, Robert Simpson, Larry Stone, Mark Tarbell, Madeline Triffon, Barbara Tropp, John Frederick
Walker, Patricia Wells, Josh Wesson,

A small sampling of events:
A Taste of Texas; Australian All-Stars; Best Microbrews; Champagne Primer; Chinese – Hot and Spicy; Cult and Boutique Vintage Ports; Italy’s Rustic Reds; Que Syrah, Syrah; Mexican-Quick and Easy; Noteworthy New Zealand Wines; Portuguese Gems; Spanish Sherry’s & Tapas; The Cheese Course; The World of Pinot Noir; Ultimate Chocolate Tarts; Wines for Spicy Foods; Wines in Cyberspace; South Africa’s New Stars; Meritage: The Ultimate Blends.

And then there was Mezcal/Tequila…a first for this event. Under the entry tent was a line up of Grand Marnier, Tequila Herradura, Jimmy’s- An American Restaurant and Bar, DEL MAGUEY, Single village Mezcal and Freshies, producer of the best 100% natural drink mixes.

Peter Bock and Johnny of Libations were pouring snifters of Grand Marnier, Juan Pablo Castro, Dave Grapshi and Kevin Richards of Herradura were pouring sips and mixing margaritas, Jimmy Yeager and his totally knowledgeable bar men mixed, poured and served, accompanied by palate cleansing fresh Ahi Tuna/mango Ceveche. DEL MAGUEY was pouring “Copitas” of all five mezcals, Collin Wells and his great Freshies crew were mixing up great cocktails using their NATURAL mixes and served at least 400 Bloody Magueys (Marys) using Santo Domingo Albarradas -unbelievable taste surprise. In total the entire team served several thousand Smokin’ Margaritas over the three days under the big tent and at Jimmy’s HOT Salsa party Saturday night.

del maguey, ron cooper, mezcal

Meanwhile…on Saturday afternoon Steven Olson, President of Libations wowed overflow audiences in Jimmy’s main dining room with two back-to-back Mezcal seminars covering the history, categories and the “how” to taste subtleties of Mezcal and Tequila. Before entering the seminar everyone was served a short Smokin’ Margarita by Jimmy’s staff and volunteers. Behind the speaker’s podium, a special Zapotec weaving; “Corazon de Maguey” or heart of the Agave collected in Oaxaca by Yeager. Each group of about 120 people was treated to Olson’s inimitable rapid-fire style of humorous wit and information. So much info so little time. The tasting began with “Miel de Maguey” the sweet honey expressed from the roast maguey heart that is the raw material of all mezcals before fermentation; followed by Tequila Blanco, El Tesoro de Don Felipe (the baseline silver by which all other tequilas can be measured); Del Maguey, Single Village Mezcal, Santo Domingo Albarradas (winner of the 1999 World Spirits Championships-served in small clay cups); Sotol Reposado-Hacienda de Chihuahua (an excellent newly emerging northern mezcal made from an agave that grows wild in the Chihuahua desert); Tequila Reposado, Herradura (the delicious classic) and ending with Tequila Añejo: Paradiso, El Tesoro de Don Felipe (Oak aged in collaboration with Alain Royer, de Fussigny-France’s great Cognac maker).

Saturday evening the Hotel Jerome hosted a special dinner-buffet featuring Wine & Spirits annual Best Ten New Chefs who each presented at unique stations their special dish made for the dinner. Chef Joseph Reede of Joseph’s Table in Taos, New Mexico (U.S. home of Del Maguey) was among the
ten. The other nine:

Andrew Carellini, Café Boulud, New York City
Ted Cizma, Grace, Chicago
Andrea Curto, Wish, Miami
Loren Falsone, Empire, Providence
Tim Goodell, Aubergine, Newport Beach, CA
Michael Leviton, Lumiére, West Newton, MA
Amanda Lydon, Truc, Boston
Eric Moshier, Empire, Providence
Takashi Yagashi, Tribute, Farmington Hills, MI

New Mexico based Ron Cooper keeps himself busy producing award winning Mezcal at Del Maguey in Oaxaca, Mexico. You can find more information on these fine mezcals at



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