SlimRitas is made with fresh juices and a combination of natural zero calorie sweeteners. We eliminated the entire diet aftertaste by combining just the right sweeteners in just the right amounts. All this generates an authentic Tex-Mex margarita under 100 total calories. SlimRitas never uses citrus flavorings, high fructose corn syrup or Splenda.
Bat World Sanctuary is on the front line to end the mistreatment of bats. Each year they rescue hundreds of bats who might otherwise die. Lifetime sanctuary is given to non-releasable bats, including those that are orphaned, injured, and retired from the exotic pet trade, zoos and research facilities. Bat World was founded in 1994 and is a 501c3 non-profit, accredited organization with both the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association. Donations allow them to continue their rescue efforts for bats.
Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!
NEWPORT BEACH, California, June 30TH 2015 – Eighty seven consumer spirit enthusiasts gathered at the waterfront Balboa Bay Resort on May 31, 2015 to participate in the 7th annual consumer based spirits competition. The 2015 SIP Awards comprised of 423 brands from all over the globe competing for rank at the impartial mercy of consumer based blind-tasting.
The 2015 SIP Awards was a battle among the elite in each of the world’s most popular Spirit categories. Each chilled, undiluted sample was presented to Judges in NEAT glasses, scientifically engineered to deliver an enhanced consistent tasting experience.
Tequilas, Gins, Rums, Whiskeys, Cognacs, Vodkas and Liqueurs were some of the participating spirits this year, each graded on Aroma, Taste, and Finish.
The 2015 top rated brands included these agave spirits:
Staying true to the commitment to provide the most reliable measure of international beverage quality ratings, every year’s Judges are every-day spirit consumers and extensively screened to ensure no affiliation with marketing, wholesalers or distributors tied to the spirits industry. “People deserve the highest quality spirits at their fingertips. I want to level the playing field by stripping away the hype to provide quality brands a fair platform on which to compete.” Says Paul Hashemi, founder of SIP Awards.
Awards include Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Best of Class for each category. The newest award introduced in 2014, is the Consumers’ Choice Award, which honors a brand’s unwavering commitment to their Legacy, Craft and to the ever important Consumer Palate, by placing in the SIP Awards two or more consecutive years.
The SIP Awards has experienced exponential growth within each of its 15 beverage categories. The increasing number of participating brands reflects SIP’s ability to provide spirit makers a valuable, unbiased and exciting opportunity to distinguish themselves in the industry. It has also shined light on the obvious need in the marketplace for its honest arbitration.
About SIP Awards
Catering to the opinions and palates of the discerning public, the SIP Awards present a unique, spirit judging competition, unaffected by industry bias. This pragmatic and refreshing model of evaluation provides an honest stage for feedback and recognition where top brands showcase their achievements. To learn more about the SIP Awards beverage competition, venue partnerships, or for a complete list of 2015 winners, visit www.SIPAwards.com.
It was the beginning of my vacation, a sweltering Friday afternoon, and the start of the monsoon season in Albuquerque. I had to fly to Southern California, with a three-hour layover in Phoenix. I hate to fly in rainy weather. The forecast for Sky Harbor was even more harrowing. Thunderstorms–and guaranteed turbulence.
Arriving on time at Albuquerque’s International Sunport, and surviving the annoying airport security routine–removing my tennis shoes, emptying my pockets, and then putting myself back together (I swear, one day airports will just have dressing rooms!)–I had an hour to spare before my flight. I had earned a shot of tequila.
After all, I was going back to visit my folks for their 47th wedding anniversary, and we all know what it’s like to visit family!
Sidling up to Winners Sports Bar on the A Concourse, I discovered the tequila choices were pitifully poor–Sauza Hornitos, or Jose Cuervo Especial–and so was the choice of seats. Forced to sit next to a young couple that had obviously just met, I swallowed hard and ordered a shot of Sauza Hornitos. Not the most preferred, but it’s still 100% de agave.
Ordinarily, I order my shots in a snifter. I had to settle for a rocks glass, and icy stares from the couple next to me who were drinking micro-brewed beers. Seems every time the uninitiated catch me ordering tequila, they watch to make sure that I won’t go postal. It’s almost as if their fuzzy memories of toga parties with Jose Cuervo Especial seep back into their consciousness and are projected onto me.
Or maybe, those are just my memories of Jose Cuervo.
After spending a half hour on my cell phone explaining to my mother when my flight would arrive at LAX, I ordered another Hornitos to calm my nerves, and the bill.
“Eight dollars?” I shuddered. “For Hornitos?” I shook my head. Everywhere else in Albuquerque, better quality tequilas are priced much lower.
What’s the price of Hornitos go to do with this? Follow me to Sky Harbor….
Release Your Inner Lizard!
After a one hour white knuckled flight from Albuquerque to Phoenix due to the predicted monsoon turbulence, and the absence of both complimentary sodas and snacks, I was ready for three hours of serenity with some food on the side.
I lugged my carry-ons and zeroed in on the closest fast food joints. Chinese food, pizza, sandwiches, fried chicken–none appealed to me. From the empty looks of these places, they didn’t appeal to anyone. Then, I heard the music.
Loud, pulsating music blasted from what I thought was the only nightclub in an airport in existence, the Taberna del Tequila. “Catchy name,” I smiled. It wasn’t until I was deep inside the Taberna that I realized where I was.
Jose Cuervo, that behemoth of tequila companies, has taken their marketing to the next level.
First, they purchased an island and called it Cuervo Nation with Anna Nicole Smith as its Ambassador. In the last couple of years, in partnership with HMSHost Foodand Beverage company, they have systematically opened their own chain of restaurant-tequila bars in several airports across the country. McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Seattle-Tacoma, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne CountyAirport, among others, and Sky Harbor in Phoenix.
A meat market with a nightclub mentality, the only thing missing was a dance floor. Every table was occupied, and any available space at the bar was at a premium. The bar looked like a stage in a black velvet Elvis portrait from Tijuana, but there was no mistaking the star of the show–Jose Cuervo.
The back of the bar was black, with neon painted limes, saltshakers and shot glasses. The bar itself, surrounded by smokers, was lacquered with overlapping tequila labels from one end to the other. On either side, giant display bottles of Reserva de La Familia and Gran Centenarioblanco were elegantly displayed on shelves with empties of 1800 Añejo, Tradicional, and Agavero. Behind the bar, a four-paneled big screen television was showing a Diamondbacks’ home game.
On the walls, made to look like crumbling adobe church walls (like drinking at the Alamo!), were murals of their logos, from 1800 to Especial. On the far wall, spotlighted and larger than life, was the Gran Centenario angel. I quickly grabbed a waitress and ordered a reposado, no lime, no salt, in a snifter.
This time, I got the snifter!
What better place to introduce your products but in your own place? What better audience to introduce your products to, but to a sequestered one? Maybe there was something to this mega-marketing to travelers with long layovers?
“Show off!” said a buxom blond in her thirties. She sat at a nearby table with a younger man. Both had just met.
Behind them above the bar and the big screen TV, in large neon letters, was painted the slogan, “Release Your Inner Lizard.” Securing a corner of their table, I dropped my carry-ons and proceeded to make friends.
There’s something surreal about having a conversation with people who are ahead of you in the buzz department, particularly those who are traveling. I felt I was in the intergalactic cantina from Star Wars with aliens who had had too much to drink.
“So what do you do?” she slurred.
“I’m Han Solo,” I replied. “Captain of the Millennium Falcon. And you?”
(The kid next to her got it!)
Just then, the waitress brought me the bill. Ten dollars for a Gran Centenario reposado. Considering I had paid eight dollars in Albuquerque for a lesser quality tequila, the Taberna’s prices were more in line.
Life was good!
All Work & No Play is Totally Missing The Point!
So exclaimed the Taberna del Tequila’s menu.
Graced with a colorful collage of photos of mariachis and jimadores on the cover–presumably all taken at Cuervo’s La Rojeña distillery which we’ll discuss later on–the first half of the menu is conveniently designed without prices for any of their signature drinks, such as…
The Millionaire Margarita made with Gran Centenario reposado…The Striped Guavarita…and the classic Golden Popper made with Cuervo Gold, touted as the official initiation to the Cuervo Nation. (Anna Nicole, grab my toga!)
On the back cover were the credits to this Jose Cuervo Traveling Road Show. Tequileria Favorites describes each of this producer’s featured players, from Gran Centenario Añejo to Agavero.
Realizing I was hungry, and that Cuervo doesn’t cook, the remainder of the menu is taken over by The Blue Burrito Grill. They lease the kitchen and supply tasty Mexican food at reasonable prices.
Taking stock of my evening so far, I made new friends, enjoyed fine tequila, and was exposed to a hip, new version of a trendy tequila bar. I even had a great time!
The crowd at the Taberna del Tequila steadily disappeared to make their connecting flights. While I waited for my order of chicken soft tacos and a second snifter of Gran Centenario, here’s how some other customers anchored their relationships with Jose Cuervo–forever.
Within six minutes, five glasses crashed to the floor in different areas of the Taberna, a biker called the female night manager a bitch, and a red wine drinker tossed her cookies with no prior warning. Otherwise, it was a quiet Friday night in Phoenix.
Although a new concept in marketing, the Taberna del Tequila isn’t the only way Jose Cuervo is forging relationships with an emerging drinking public. In the following segment, I’ll explain how they’ve secured brand loyalty among established tequila aficionados using one of the oldest Mexican food restaurant chains in Southern California–El Torito.
My second day in Mexico was focused on the product and team brainstorming for a market launch. Believe me when I say Mel Gibson’s character in “What Women Want” wasn’t so far off in the process of branding and advertising. Total immersion into the product to help identify the audience, and the creativity necessary to capture the attention of the targeted audience can be taxing, especially when the tasting begins before the first cappuccino.
I walked into the meeting feeling the weight of travel, the mess of humidity, and trying to pull myself together. Guadalajara has a humid climate and the morning had already proven challenging with the struggle to tame my ever-frizzing hair. If you have ever attempted to straighten and smooth naturally curly hair in humid climates you know this can be an exercise in futility and frustrating endeavor, and yet we still attempt the battle. It tends to leave you irritable and makes for a difficult start to the day…until there was tequila? For breakfast? No way!!!
Several unmarked bottles sat on the table along with dozens of glasses.
And so the work day began, with a flute of 5-year Anejo in one hand and a double cappuccino in the other. . .
While I will not bore you with the details of the work day and the brainstorming that went into it, I will say that I felt like I consumed more tequila on this day than I have in all my years of drinking! 5-year, Plata, Reposado, 7-year…
Glass after glass, note after note…
It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
What?! It’s work!!
The truth is, while an extraordinary team, the incredible opportunity to work side by side with Jaime Sauza, and garner some of his knowledge and the rich family history that is his in the world of tequila, was without a doubt an incredible experience, and it was exactly this way that I spent the work day, collaborating with this extraordinary man…
Originally considered “Mexican Moonshine”, the poor man’s drink, Don Cenobio Sauza recognized opportunity early on. (“Don” makes you think of the Godfather, doesn’t it?) In 1873 Don Cenobio Sauza founded Sauza Tequila at “La Perseverancia” distillery. He was the first distiller to call the spirit produced from the blue agave plant “tequila”, and the first to export the drink to the United States.
The Story goes like this….
Don Cenobio Sauza was born on a farm in Jalisco, Mexico. He was the third child of Hilario Sauza and Doña Margarita Madrigal Navarro. He worked on his father’s farm along with his siblings Adelaida, Juana, Fernanda, Luis and Herminia until he was sixteen. In 1858 Cenobio traveled to Tequila to visit his cousin Ramon Corona Madrigal. Enamored with the countryside and the rich soil, Cenobio settled in Tequila and got a job working at the distillery of José Antonio Gómez Cuervo. There he learned how to farm agave and distill mezcal-tequila.
Cenobio began to export mezcal-tequila from Tequila to other parts of the country. In 1870, no longer content to just sell, Sauza leased the “La Gallardeña” distillery from Lazaro Gallardo. Sauza saw great success, and three years later, on September 1, 1873 , purchased the “La Antigua Cruz” (The Old Cross) distillery (the oldest registered tequila distillery, founded in 1805 by José Maria Castañeda) from Don Felix Lopez. The transaction equated to 5,000 pesos and he promptly renamed it “La Perseverancia” (Perseverance).The former employee of Cuervo had successfully founded Sauza Tequila and become one of Cuervo’s great rivals.
In 1873 Sauza was the first to export tequila to the United States; crossing through the border at El Paso del Norte (present day Ciudad Juarez) carrying three casks and six jugs of his mezcal-tequila. This was the beginning of the export market for tequila.
The arrival of the railroad in Tequila, Jalisco, increased Sauza’s business and in 1889 he purchased the “La Gallardeña” distillery from Lazaro Gallardo. That same year he purchased the “Hacienda de San Martin de las Cañas”. This became Sauza’s headquarters and was simply known as “La Hacienda Cenobio”. Here he planted more than 2 million agave and started producing an estimated 800 casks of tequila per year. He purchased and sold thirteen more distilleries and numerous fields of agave, always working at least three at a time in order to remain the leader in tequila production and sales. Don Cenobio is credited with determining that the blue agave was the best agave for tequila in the 1890. Obviously the rest followed suit.
Don Cenobio’s son, Don Eladio Sauza, was born in Tequila in 1883. At age 20 Eladio moved to Tecolotlan to take charge of his father’s distillery, “La Hacienda La Labor”. It was there that he learned the business of producing and selling tequila. Later, he moved to Mazatlán, a major port in the Northeastern part of Mexico, to establish a Sauza Tequila distribution center in order to increase exportation.
Upon Don Cenobio’s death in 1909, Eladio returned to Guadalajara to mourn his father and to take control of the Sauza Tequila Empire. Shortly thereafter, the Mexican Revolution threatened to expropriate Eladio’s business and farmland. During the Revolution, Eladio rallied patriotic sentiment and helped to establish tequila as the official spirit of Mexico.
Eladio modernized and expanded the family business by opening branches in Monterrey and Mexico City, as well as a concession in Spain. When Don Eladio Sauza died at the age of 63 on July 22, 1946, he left the Sauza Tequila business to his firstborn son, Francisco Javier Sauza
The Third Generation is Born
Francisco Javier Sauza was born in Tecolotlan, Mexico on December 8, 1903 to Don Eladio Sauza and Doña Silveria Mora Enriquez. Francisco Javier Sauza, like his father, was raised on tequila, and in the family tradition of his father and his grandfather he too grew to become part of the family legacy.
When Javier Sauza took over Tequila Sauza, shortly before his father’s death in 1946, he began at once to change the image of tequila from a “drink of the campesinos” to a refined spirit of the upper classes. His competitors scoffed when he redesigned the bottles and labels for a more tasteful look and began to age some of the tequila in wooden barrels for a smoother taste and color. He took his product to fairs and expositions throughout Mexico, the United States, and Europe, and promoted it as “the drink of romance.” He also modernized production and transportation systems and built a bottling plant in Guadalajara.
In 1950, Francisco Javier added the Sauza Hornitos brand to the Sauza family of tequila. In 1963, he created Sauza Conmemorativo, a tequila that commemorated the 90th anniversary of the La Perseverancia distillery.
In 1973, to celebrate 100 years since the founding of the La Perseverancia distillery, Sauza created a specially aged tequila that he presented in a limited edition, green ceramic bottle. He called his creation Tres Generaciones in honor of the three generations that had produced Sauza Tequila: Don Cenobio, Don Eladio and Don Francisco Javier.
Traveling throughout Europe and Asia, Sauza grew concerned about the number of “pseudo-tequilas” being produced. Working with other tequila producers from Jalisco, Francisco lobbied President Jose Lopez Portillo saying, “Tequila is the only one made in the State of Jalisco, Mexico.” On December 9, 1974 the Label of Integrity decree stated that true tequila only came from the State of Jalisco.
Francisco Javier continued his father and grandfather’s legacy, but in 1988, for personal reasons, he decided to sell the Sauza Tequila business to Mexican brandy producer Pedro Domecq. The tequilas Sauza innovated – Sauza, Hornitos, Tres Generaciones – are still in production. Today Sauza owns about 300 agave plantations and is the second largest tequila manufacturer in the world.
The Fifth Generation
And here I was, spending my day working side by side with Jaime Sauza, the great, great grandson of Cenobio Sauza, getting the education of a lifetime in tequila. It just doesn’t get much better than this.
Or does it?
Well, that’s another segment anyway.
The end of the day had me returning to the hotel to change into cocktail attire for the evening ahead. Still wrestling with the humidity and the unruly mass that was once my hair, I managed to pull myself together (after an ice cold shower and having room service deliver a double espresso) and hustle back to the office for a “roof top CATA”. Stepping into the elevator I smoothed down my dress, and checked my makeup in the reflection of the doors one last time. As the elevator approached the roof, I could hear a Spanish guitar and the tinkling of glasses.
Then the Doors Opened
I walked into the most elegant setting I could imagine. A pergola covered the rooftop with climbing bougainvillea in vibrant colors. Elegant wicker seating with crisp white linen cushions was strategically placed for lounging and open conversation. Small teak tables, dressed with glowing candle lanterns and aromatic orchids in purples and whites were the centerpieces of the seating arrangements.
In one corner stood a bar with dozens of amber colored unmarked bottles. Mike Vernardo, the master mixologist brought in from Austin, Texas, masterfully created artistic libations, served by four beautiful young Mexican women wearing little black dresses and engaging smiles.
The League of Extraordinary “Tequilans”
Out across the terrace the sun was setting over Guadalajara, in hues of pinks and oranges and purples and the lights of the city slowly came on. As I looked around I saw the most beautiful people begin to come in to the party. Elegant, sophisticated women of Guadalajara on the arms of distinguished gentlemen, and as I began to mingle, I came to realize every attendee was a part of the process of the production of Tequila. From the General Director of La Cofradia Distillery, and his wife, to the master bottle cap maker, who works in precious metals of gold, silver and copper to make the cap and label of this emerging product, to the glass bottle designer himself, and their respective wives. Every person that walked into this party had some part in the creation of an extraordinary elixir from Tequila. I felt as though I was in a League of Extraordinary “Tequilans”.
Not long into the evening, Jaime arrived with his beautiful wife, and the party really got started. Charismatic and congenial, Jaime began to expound on the notes and virtues of each of the samplings of the evening. Elaborating on the legs, crown and brilliance of each, he offered his insights on comparisons and values. Although this might sound dry to some, Jaime’s communicated his thoughts congenially with a touch of humor and was entertaining and engaging. Who wouldn’t be mesmerized by a man who can conclude a tequila lesson with a course in popping a champagne cork with his glass stem?
It’s true. . . Jaime is very versatile!
Waiters in white jackets and great big smiles weaved in and out with delicious food pairings that included fresh ceviche in guacamole sauce served in shot glasses, miniature ranchero tacos, and Ahi tartar tostadas. The menu was created exclusively by Josue Banuelos for the tequilas we tasted that evening. Mike mixed incredibly creative concoctions of epic proportions out of recipes specifically designed around this tequila, and a joyful mood of what could only be described as “success” filled the air.
I think we all knew we were on to something extraordinary, something epic…
This Cinderella turned in her dancing shoes and cocktail dress for pajamas and a nightcap not long before midnight. My nightcap was a special “gift” given to me by my new friend Jaime. I fell in love with this dream libation after one sip. An unlikely recipe, this “moonshine” (let’s face it, isn’t it really “moonshine” until it has a NOM, label, and is legal the eyes of the CRT?) takes you to Italy and Mexico at the same time in a seamless blend of liquid perfection.
I cannot tell you more yet, but I can tell you it was the perfect finish to my day.
I closed my eyes in anticipation of the next day and the adventure that lay in before me and drifted off to dreamland.
Read the continuation of Jessica’s Journey coming soon!
Jessica Arent has spent her career steeped in the Hispanic culture. Passionate about the Latin culture and experiencing roles that have taken her from television to digital marketing throughout the United States and Mexico, Jessica’s passion for Mexico runs in her blood. An accomplished writer, Mexico is where her heart lives and is the focus of her work and writing. Specializing in marketing Hispanic based products and services, Jessica will tell you there are few people in the world or places she has traveled, from Asia to Europe and in between, who compare to the Mexican culture. Building websites such as ALL ABOUT MEXICO and fostering the marketing endeavors of a number of tequila products, to name a few, Jessica sets out to inspire the world around her, one person, one relationship at a time, to know and understand the culture she calls home. Jessica is a partner at Intermountain Media, LLC, the Communications and Media Director of Terra Energy Resources Corp, and shares other travel and tequila adventures on her blog, Jessica’s Mexico.
Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t all that excited about reviewing Hornito’s Lime Shot but the folks who do Hornito’s PR were so nice that I thought I’d set aside my prejudicial notions and give it a whirl for their sake. As it happens, I was correct in my original estimation. I don’t ever want to drink Hornito’s Lime Shot again, but I am head-over-heels in love with this product as a condiment!
So, when the dust settled, I found Hornito’s Lime Shot to be a winner, but not for the purpose Hornito’s intended. Lucky for me I set aside my prejudice and took a shot on this cliche’.
Following are several summertime recipes you’ll love mixing up with Hornito’s Lime Shot:
Grilled Chicken Breast Tenders for Fajitas & Salads
4lbs Chicken Breast Tenders or sliced Chicken Breasts
½ Cup Hornitos Lime Shot
2Tbsp Fajita seasoning or 1 Capful of your favorite Mrs Dash.
Place all ingredients in a Ziploc bag, seal and massage to mix. Place the bag in a bowl (you never know when they’ll sprout a leak) and marinate in the refrigerator 6-8 hours or more. Grill on gas, open flame or on a George Foreman grill. This chicken will cook quickly and be tender, juicy and tasty!
Place all ingredients in a crock pot and mix thoroughly. Cook covered on low for 8-12 hours.
Pull pieces apart with two forks to shred the meat. It should just fall apart. Mix again to be sure it all gets covered with seasoning and keep on warm setting until ready to eat. If you aren’t entertaining and just can’t eat this much, tuck half of it away in an airtight container in the freezer. It keeps well.
2lbs dry Pinto Beans (Soak overnight in water and rinse)
1 Cup Salsa (any flavor)
1 Large Onion (chopped)
½ Cup Hornitos Lime Shot
1 Roasted hatch Green Chile (or a small can of chilis or jalapenos)
4 Cloves Garlic (or crushed/powdered equivalent)
Add all ingredients to a crock pot, cover with water, then add 4 more cups of water. Cook on high until it reaches the consistency you prefer. If it is too soupy, allow it to cook with the cover removed until enough water has evaporated to suit your taste. If they aren’t soft enough, add water as necessary.
If I’m in a hurry, I’ll mash them with a potato masher after they’ve cooked soft. If not, I’ll forget about them and just cook them on low for a couple days. Big batches like this work great because they keep well in the refrigerator and freeze well.
Yes, we went there! The good folks at Hornitos were kind enough to send us some samples so we did what we do – Tasting & Testing. Look for our review of Lime Shot – and the reason why you absolutely must have this in your kitchen – coming this week!
According to Hornitos:
This Memorial Day weekend, master the art of cocktail-and-food matching—and just in time for all the warm-weather backyard festivities. Your readers can fire up the grill with Hornitos® and try some of these seamless pairings of mouthwatering food and thirst-quenching cocktails.
Hornitos® Lime Shot takes the process out of the whole tequila experience. No need for blenders or the lick it-sip it-suck it ritual, this shot already combines the salt + tequila + lime!
Serve the shot chilled and in a salt-rimmed shot glass for the ultimate Memorial Day experience.
This cool, sweet drink offsets spicy heat of your summer barbecue
• 1 ½ parts Hornitos® Plata Tequila
• ¾ part Lime Juice
• ¾ part Pineapple Juice
• ¼ part Agave
• Pinch of Cilantro leaves
Preparation: Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a coupe glass.
Hornitos® Tequila Lime Shot Chicken
• 1 cup Hornitos® Lime Shot
• ½ cup orange juice
• ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
• 2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chilies
• 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
• ¼ cup honey
• ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
• 6 boneless chicken breast halves
Preparation: Before adding chicken, mix all other ingredients in a bowl to form a marinade. Once mixed, place marinade in a large resealable bag and add chicken. Refrigerate overnight. Once prepared, place chicken on the grill (low to medium heat) and cook for approximately 15-18 minutes. Remove chicken from the grill and enjoy your Memorial Day barbecue!
Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!
Tequila Aficionado Media on The Set Of Salt, Liquor, Lime
Tequila Aficionado Media first made contact with the co-producers of Salt, Liquor, Lime in the Spring of 2013 via social media. Once production was moved in late August to Southern California during a blistering heat wave, we were invited to join the cast and crew to exclusively record our experiences on the set.
There were only a handful of 100% de agave tequilas back then: Herradura, Chinaco, El Tesoro de Don Felipe, Hornitos and a young upstart brand that would revolutionize the spirits world, Patrón. These were popular with the original tequila snobs–movie stars and artists–but mixto tequila (51% blue agave, 49% “other sugars”) captured the lion’s share of the market.
It was the end of the Reagan era with the election of George H. W. Bush as President while hundreds of savings and loan associations were bailed out by the government for $150 billion. Exxon’s oil tanker, Valdez, spilled 11 million gallons of oilafter running aground in Alaska, but gas was just 97 cents per gallon.Anddue to the greenhouse effect, scientists declared 1989 as the warmest year on record.
Meanwhile, in music, Jon Bon Jovi married his high school sweetheart in Las Vegas while Michael Jackson was named the “King of Pop” at the Soul Train Awards. The Moscow Music Peace Festival took place in the Soviet Union and was headlined by Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, Cinderella, and the Scorpions. Finally, Whitesnake’s David Coverdale married rock n’ roll video vixen (and every adolescent boy’s dream), Tawny Kitaen.
In their hey day, famed West Hollywood night clubs like the Whisky-a-Go-Go, the Roxy and the Troubadour packed patrons in to see such groups as Great White, Warrant, Poison, and Guns N’ Roses. Out in North Hollywood, The Lodge, now known as Skinny’s Lounge, was serving the gay/transsexual communities in droves.
Twenty-five years later, Skinny’s is now the scene of a raucous new indie short film that takes place during the glory days of glam rock, power ballads, big hair and cheap tequila.
Salt, Liquor, Lime
Salt, Liquor, Lime is the story of three forty-something women, Diana (Vené Arcoraci Dixon), Jenn (Connie Marie Chiarelli) and Michelle (Sabrina Stewart) reuniting for their 20th college reunion. Before the big event, they decide to pre-game at their old hangout, the Deja Vu Tavern (Skinny’s), for one drink. It’s there that Marie (Liane Curtis), Deja Vu’s ageless owner and tequila maven, gives them some magical tequila from a mysterious bottle.
The hangover effect of this “tequila flux capacitor” takes the gals someplace unexpected where they discover their true hearts desire.
Billed as “a short film about time, tequila and the space time continuum,” Salt, Liquor, Lime is written and directed by Cynthia Thompson MacAdam, and co-produced by her and her multi-talented cousin and make up artist, Susan Thompson.
During a break in filming at Skinny’s Lounge, they discuss the project’s long history.
Indie Tequilas Answer The Call
No one knows the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to bring an independent film from conception to fruition better than a tequila brand owner, especially a small, independent tequila brand owner.
Struggling with mounds of paperwork, sometimes for years in both English and Spanish, to locating and acquiring financing and choosing the right distillery to direct the project. Then, devising an effective marketing strategy to advertise the brand on a shoestring budget while fighting for shelf space next to the “Big Boys” with unlimited piles of cash. And even if you win an award here and there for your quality and excellence, that’s still no guarantee that cases will move and bottles will fly off the shelves (or, in the case of movies, put butts in the seats), at least not without high powered distribution in place.
That’s why the following leading independent tequila brands chose to support Salt, Liquor, Lime and were rewarded with some slick product placement.
Karma (NOM 1107)–An award winning blend of double and triple distillation, this Highlands tequila is fronted by partners Ray McBride, Robert Grant and Gary Eisenberger who have carefully and strategically grown the brand from the West Coast to East Coast using pure passion and, of course, good karma.
Embajador (NOM 1509)–Declaring to be “the finest shot in the game,” this Arizona based family owned brand is gaining serious traction in the tequila industry.
Suerte (NOM 1530)–One of the hottest young brands to come along, this tequila has quickly acquired a name and a reputation for quality under the shrewd guidance of its co-founders, Lance Sokol and Laurence Spiewak.
Whether it’s marketing a fledgling tequila brand or shooting an indie film, flexibility while keeping an eye on results is critical for its survival.
In this clip, Cynthia and Susan discuss the changes and challenges of filming Salt, Liquor, Lime, a female-driven comedy, and where they’d like to ultimately end up.
Keeping It Real
Skinny’s Lounge in North Hollywood doubled as the Deja Vu Tavern, the fictional club in the Midwest that is the scene of all of the short film’s interior action. Actress (and one time bartender) Lacy Fisher, also the film’s production designer and whose husband owns Skinny’s, made sure that everything on and behind the bar echoed the trends of 1989 and today. Even the cocktails had their own stunt doubles. No alcohol was poured or harmed during the making of this film.
Ask anyone who’s ever worked on a film set and they’ll tell you, movie making is like the military–“hurry up and wait.” Long lulls between scenes while the crew lines up lighting and camera angles can last hours. Not so on the set of an indie film. Much like bringing a young tequila brand to the market, nimbleness and thinking on your feet are required.
Budget constraints, time crunches and scene continuity are dealt with in real time. Skinny’s opens every night of the week at 8pm, so the cast and crew had early set calls for hair and make up and none of the equipment could be left overnight.
Teamwork and camaraderie are strengthened, and most times, egos are left at the door. What results are more brilliant portrayals, more genuine emotion, and…
…More hilarious laughs.
And the Award Goes To….
Salt, Liquor, Lime, the short film, premiered on January 24, 2014 to a full house at Skinny’s Lounge. Guests were treated to cocktails and laughs and the cast and crew were given a proper send-off.
Like a start-up tequila brand, hopes and dreams are nurtured by hard work and care. Film festivals like South by Southwest (SXSW), the Sundance Film Festival and many others are certainly a possibility for Cynthia and Susan’s project.
Whether a newcomer tequila envisions itself to be the next Cabo Wabo or Peligroso, or Salt, Liquor, Lime promises to be the next Bridesmaids or The Hangover is anyone’s guess. But like any indie film or indie tequila, it’s not just about the buzz behind your brand, but how well your story is told.
Keep it here on TequilaAficionado.com to see how this tale ends.
If you’d like to support the indie film Salt, Liquor, Lime, go here.
Tequila Brands and Producers Have Already Sailed Into the Sucker Hole
For those new to the expression, a “sucker hole” is a colloquial term referring to a spate of good weather that “suckers” sailors into leaving port just in time for a storm to resume at full force and wreak havoc on the ship and crew.
For both Tequila Brand Owners and producers of a certain size, their ship has already sailed, and the storm is now closing in on them. Some in denial, others looking through rose-colored margarita glasses, still believe they can navigate through to that glimmer of light on the horizon. However, the perfect storm of doom looms just past the horizon of hope, and will soon envelope and destroy most, if not all, in its wake.
Oh, and that’s the good news. The bad news is that only a few of the big and the very nimble will survive.
This is because of a number of factors, primarily that too many of us bought in to the Yankelovich and similar studies that declared premium and above 100% Agave Tequila brands as the next big thing.
While the premises of these market premonitions were undoubtedly true, too many of us jumped headfirst into the juice just before the world economic decline. Six hundred brands have turned into 1200 brands in less than five years. The growth of the market has been dramatic compared with other distilled spirits, yet, it’s still relatively small, ranked only 4th in US volume. It has not grown fast enough to accommodate all of the entries into the field.
Resistance is Futile – Change is at Hand for the Tequila Market
The Gravy Train Wreck Ahead
I’m sure that for many of you, in just reading the title of this article, your blood pressure has escalated, and you may already be misdirecting your anger at the author.
For others who have experienced the many similar economic paths to consolidation in the global beverage industry, you have already accepted that change has to occur, and you will soon better understand and appreciate the math behind what I am about to lay out, and why everything I’m about to outline here will happen in due course.
For those of you who have your personal fortunes riding on the Tequila Train, both prominence and profit may still seem to be so close that you think you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, or beyond the next bend. But, I’m sorry to say that for most of us in the biz, the light at the end of the tunnel is that of an oncoming locomotive. This will be a catastrophic collision, albeit in slow motion, that will drain your resources and your resolve.
What can be learned from the Russians? (Excerpted from JustDrinks.com)
The global economic crisis has had a significant impact on the Russian spirits market, changing market dynamics and briefly halting the much-lauded premiumisation trend, according to current research.
A recently released report from the International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) on Russia’s spirits market claims that the downturn has also led to “…disruptions across the supply chain, with many suppliers and distributors going bankrupt or halting production. For healthier companies, however, it has presented an opening to establish their brands and take market share…”
The Silver Tequila Clouds have a very Dark Lining (Excerpted from Global market review of Tequila – forecasts to 2013 www.researchandmarkets.com )
The history of the Tequila industry has been one of boom and bust. Sales rose during the 1940’s only to collapse again in the mid-50’s. Export sales rose steadily from the 1960’s onward, although domestic sales fell sharply in the 1980’s due again to an economic slump, and the severe Mexican economic crisis of the early 1980’s resulted in plummeting sales.
The market was again disrupted by a critical shortage of Agave beginning in the late ’90’s, which served to hold back the category’s international development as brand owners were forced to divert limited supplies to the core US market, and quality perceptions were damaged as some manufacturers moved from 100% to 51% (Mixto) Agave products.
Today, that dynamic is in reverse, and the market is in oversupply. More and more 100% Agave products are coming into the market. This is helping to raise quality perceptions, and in turn, demand is surging not only in core Mexican and US markets but across a number of other countries.
The outlook for the category has rarely been better, and Casa Noble Tequila president and COO David Ravandi commented, “Tequila is entering a stage of consolidation in the world markets. It is no longer a fad. The fact that 100% Agave Tequila exports have increased tremendously over the last two years is extremely positive for the product’s outlook in the years to come.”
US Tequila Importation is a Sucker Bet
“My cousin will make the best Tequila for you Mr. Gringo”
“So, my friend, you want a great Tequila brand? We will make it for you. Just fifty percent cash up front to start the process.”
Unfortunately, far too many have fallen for this old gag. Relying heavily on the forecasting reports of the early 2000’s that suggested that luxury Tequila would be the next big spirits category after vodka.
With dollar signs in their eyes, the believers drank the Tequila Kool-Aid, most of them spending way too much to buy a brand, custom molded bottles, etc. But the worst part was that this left little if any money for marketing. Many did not even understand brand marketing inflation was happening right under their noses.
It had started soon after Patron hit 100,000 cases in volume in 2001, and the cost to market a Tequila brand in the US went from $1 to $10M per year. Today it takes at least $20M per year just to play in the same ballpark as Patron’s $50M plus, Sauza’s $35M plus, and Cuervo’s $30M plus marketing budgets.
Who could have predicted that a “realistic” business plan for the next successful ultra-premium Tequila brand calling for only 10,000 cases in the first year would end in it’s investors taking a bath?
The problem with this equation is three-fold:
1) Pricing: Unlike vodka and white rum, 100% Agave Tequila is just too expensive to produce and bottle in Mexico. Unless, like rum, vodka and mixto Tequila, it is able to be shipped in bulk and bottled near the final consumer, the cost involved with 100% Agave Tequila is always going to be too high to attain critical volume and profit levels.
2) Volume: US mass volumes are best when a spirits category is between $9.99-29.99/750ml. One hundred percent Agave Tequila is currently profitable only at the upper ranges when higher volumes are attained.
3) Distribution: The US “3-Tier” Distribution System is at best an oligopoly, and 19 states run a monopoly. Of the 1200 plus Tequila brands, want to guess how many they want to carry? Well, after the top 20, you are very lucky to be “special order only”. If you are fortunate enough to live in the states of California or Arizona, where one can be both the importer and distributor, you will find yourself driving your precious Tequila brand around to each account in your car.
Without product volumes or market clout, you will be hard pressed to get even an appointment, let alone a vender number with the chain restaurants and grocery stores. These major chain stores like Chili’s, Chevy’s, Costco, Kroger, etc., drive at least 85% of the combined volume in all but the control states. Without access to the chains, your market becomes the handful of privately owned, “Mom & Pop” accounts that usually know that small independent distributors are easy prey for bending the law on consignment, stringing out payments, or not paying at all.
While driving your own brand around certainly makes time for the personal touch and focus, these hand-selling efforts prove to be the most inefficient ways to distribute one Tequila brand. Your glass ceiling to fame and fortune becomes that next level of chain distribution that can only be had by a state-wide delivery system of the large wholesale distributor.
With Tequila segment Pricing, Volume and Distribution all against you, one will need to have a lot more money than the brands of the past in order to simply survive in the US.
Tanks-a-lot for Nothing
Call the tank maker and raise your stocks of liquid now!
Unfortunately, most of the mid-sized Tequila distilleries have bought into the notion that Agave prices will go up in the very near future. They base this notion on the boom and bust cycle of the past, and like Lehman Brothers, believe that they have successfully timed the market.
Greedily, many producers are now mortgaged to the hilt in order to produce all the Tequila that they possibly can afford to store in stainless tanks or wooden barrels. Fear of the impending Agave price increase that has yet to happen (and may not for many, many years) has seemingly forced them all into a squirrel-like stockpiling frenzy.
Are they storing Blanco, like acorns, for the hard winter ahead? These stored nuts of liquid demise are in reality winds conspiring to produce the perfect storm for all but the most financially secure and/or nimble producers.
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