The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour

A Southern California Tradition

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Pasadena, California’s landmark El Cholo Cafe Restaurant’s Tequila Tour has been a major community event for the past 17 years.  Commemorating its 94th year serving authentic Mexican cuisine to Southern California, the October 27, 2017 edition was destined to be special.

Also in 2017, Tequila Aficionado was celebrating its 18th anniversary of the very first Sipping Off The Cuff© podcast episode taped at the family-owned eatery’s original Pasadena location.

Needless to say, it was an honor when El Cholo’s owner, Blair Salisbury, graciously asked Tequila Aficionado Media to anchor an exclusive VIP Hour during El Cholo’s Tequila Tour, and to share the fine craft agave spirits accompanying us on our 2017 Wild Wild West Tour.

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Flawlessly guided by El Cholo’s point man for this shindig, consultant Alex Delgado, we were given the restaurant’s intimate West Patio to showcase the Brand of Promise(c) nominees that traveled with us throughout the month of October.

A Very Special Guest

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uuDays before the El Cholo Tequila Tour, with help from the fine folks at PKGD Media who handle publicity for Tequila G4, we managed to convince the “Mad Scientist” of tequila, Felipe Camarena, to make an unscheduled guest appearance at El Cholo’s fiesta.

It was enlightening to discuss the state of the Tequila Industry from a long time agave grower’s point-of-view.  Of great concern was the ongoing Agave Crisis, the ramifications of an agave shortage, and what Felipe considered was the real cause of the problems.

[*FTC Disclosure: Brands appearing on the Tequila Aficionado Wild Wild West 2017 Tour were vetted as Brand of Promise(c) Nominees and paid a nominal fee to be included.]

The VIP Hour

Before we knew it, employees of El Cholo’s opened the floodgates of the West Patio to the VIP Hour.

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Joined by CMO Lisa Pietsch, Tequila Aficionado’s Founder, Alex Perez, and Tequila TJs Dave Dinius and Rick Levy, as well as some Brand of Promise(c) representatives, we were instantly surrounded by the smiling faces of dozens of passionate tequila aficionados.

These anxious VIPs were more than ready to sample some of the finest small batch, micro-distilled and handcrafted agave spirits that may or may not have been available, yet, in California.

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Where It All Started

Mid-way through the VIP Hour, Blair, Alex, and myself took a few minutes to reminisce about that first podcast, and how each of our endeavors had grown exponentially with the demand for 100% de agave tequila, and now, mezcals.

The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Alex and I even took a moment to record a brief audio podcast memorializing the humble beginnings of Sipping Off the Cuff(c).

End of The Trail

El Cholo’s regularly scheduled Tequila Tour went off without a hitch, while almost everybody who had purchased VIP tickets lingered throughout the rest of the evening.

It was very gratifying to meet and greet so many fans and followers, to answer their burning questions on the participating Brands of Promise(c), and to experience the level of sophistication of the current crop of agave spirits consumers, whether newbies or seasoned sippers.

To Continue the Battle The El Cholo Cafe Tequila Tour https://wp.me/p3u1xi-5uu

Constant and continuing education on agave spirits is a must these days.

El Cholo’s yearly Tequila Tour is not just an event designed to savor authentic Mexican cuisine, but to also elegantly enjoy your continuing agave spirits education.

We look forward to joining forces once again with El Cholo in 2018 to, as Felipe Camarena put it, “Para darle la guerra.”

You can view more photos of El Cholo’s 2017 Tequila Tour here.

 

 

Terralta Tequila and Creo Spirits: Behind the Scenes

[*FTC Disclosure: Brands appearing on the Tequila Aficionado Wild Wild West 2017 Tour were vetted as Brand of Promise(c) Nominees and paid a nominal fee to be included.]

The Lay of the Land

The need for small-to-medium sized distributors in every state will become even more important in 2018 to ensure that worthy agave spirit Brands of Promise are not lost in the conglomerate shuffle.

Sensing this demand long before the current trend of mega-mergers, Enrique Ramos, established Creo Commercium Inc (Creo Spirits) in Phoenix, Arizona in 2008.

His current portfolio is stocked with an array of agave spirits, as well Mexican wines and craft beers that are not readily available except at select establishments such as Elvira’s Tequila Cocina & Vino in Tucson.

Hedging Bets

It’s a good bet that that was one of the main reasons Ingeniero Felipe Camarena Curiel, innovator of such remarkably acclaimed and diverse tequilas as Pasote, G4 and Terralta, chose Creo Spirits as his importer and distributor of Terralta in the highly competitive state of Arizona.

Spending countless hours with the man known as “The Mad Genius” of tequila at his state-of-art El Pandillo distillery, Enrique possesses a unique perspective on Felipe Camarena that few folks get the chance to experience.

We caught up with Enrique during the Wild Wild West 2017 Tour at his base of operations in Phoenix.

Here, Ramos divulges the “little things” that Felipe does to add to Terralta’s flavorful profile.

It All Happened by Mistake

Enrique reveals how Felipe Camarena and he established their relationship, and where Terralta is currently available.  He also expresses his views on who chooses to sip Terralta and how these individuals re-calibrate their taste buds through successive tastings.

Personal History

Enrique Ramos, who shares a direct lineage to Pancho Villa, reveals how he got into the business of spirits importation, and what it takes to succeed.

Customer-centric 

Enrique Ramos admits that his greatest allies in the importation/distribution business are his own customers.  And, in the process of taking care of them to best of his abilities, they in turn take care of him.

It’s this kind of customer-centric attitude and attention to detail that will ensure Creo Spirits’–and Terralta’s–success in the long running battle for shelf space.

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand

“This is your tequila bucket list.”  

~ Rick Levy of Tequila Aficionado

If you’ve seen Mike Morales’ article on the Top 20 Craft Tequilas you’ve overlooked then you’ll understand that picking one (or even 10) from this list is like picking your favorite child.  It’s too difficult to do, so your best bet is to vote twice a day for your favorites and spend the rest of your time sipping all of them.

Congratulations to all the nominees.  If Mike could pick a top 50 list, it still wouldn’t be enough.  Thank you to all the wonderful brands out there who are constantly striving to produce the finest tequilas they can.  We love you all!

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qmIn order to be called tequila, this spirit distilled from the juices blue agave must be made in specific regions of Mexico, most prominently Jalisco and the town of tequila. While no tequilas are produced in the United States, we want to find the best craft tequila brands available in the country, and to do so, we asked a pair of tequila experts to nominate their favorites. Unlike other spirits, tequila brands often share distilleries – there are about 70 of them producing more than 500 brands – so it’s often the brand rather than the distillery that indicates quality. Many of these 20 nominees for best craft tequila brand use traditional methods. Many of the brand owners grow their own agave and personally oversee the entire tequila-making process. All produce high-quality, distinctive tequilas available in the U.S. market. Vote for your favorite once per day until voting ends on Monday, September 12 at noon ET. Read the official Readers’ Choice rules here.

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

1. Embajador Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

2. Suerte Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

3. DesMaDre Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

4. Tequila Gran Dovejo

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

5. Siete Leguas

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

6. T1 Tequila Uno

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

7. Tequila Tapatío

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

8. Tequila G4

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

9. Tequila Don Modesto

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

10. Tequila Alquimia

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

11. Dulce Vida Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

12. Pasote Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

13. Tequila Fortaleza

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

14. Casa Noble Tequila

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

15. Siembra Spirits

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

16. Tears of Llorona

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

17. Tequila Ocho

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

18. Tequila ArteNOM

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

19. Don Fulano

 

USA Today 10 Best Current Leaderboard for Best Craft Tequila Brand http://wp.me/p3u1xi-4qm

20. IXÁ Organic Tequila

Diddy Disses Tequila’s Jimadores….

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Diddy looking conspicuously out of his element.
Diddy looking conspicuously out of his element.

By now, many of you may have already seen both of these distasteful photos on Diddy’s Instagram account for his new venture with Diageo and DeLeón tequila that began in early 2014.

Dressed in his trademark dark suit, Diddy attempts to sacrifice a blue agave piña while at the same time asking for a moment of silence for “Mr. Pat Ron,” a thinly veiled dig against beverage behemoth, Patrón.

Those in the Tequila Community who make their living day after day selling,

Note the look of disdain on the jimador's face.
Note the look of disdain on the jimador’s face.

serving and producing tequila, as well as growing and harvesting agave, have been outraged at the clownish way in which Diddy and Diageo have disrespected and belittled the value of one of the last major pillars left in Tequila Culture–the jimador (agave harvester).

The Plight of the Jimador

In an age where modern technology and cost saving methods like the diffuser have been introduced in the Tequila Industry to replace everything from donkeys to bottlers to label applicators, the one skill that it has not yet been able to replace entirely is the hard labor of the jimador.

Jimador, courtesy of Tequila G4.
Jimador, courtesy of Tequila G4.

Those who have seen these men in action, and those of us who have tried to hack off the pencas (leaves) from a blue agave piña using a razor sharp coa, know that it’s not as easy as it looks.

The following video is courtesy of the Tequila Interchange Project, a non-profit organization and consumer advocacy group for agave distilled spirits made up of key influencers such as bartenders, consultants, teachers, researchers, consumers and tequila aficionados.  It illustrates just how arduous this work is, and the dangers these men face each day for minimal pay.

For Diddy to be allowed to be photographed attempting a jima wearing a suit and spotless shoes was unconscionable.  It makes light of the skill and experience of these journeymen laborers, as well their hardships, in a deplorable and condescending way.

Diddy Commits Commercial Suicide with DeLeón Tequila

If it’s true that Diddy knows what liquor Millennials want to drink as he states in this November 2014 article in Fortune, and wants to “disrupt how [liquor advertising] has been done,” he has already failed miserably.

Claiming that his image won’t be used for DeLeón like it has been attached to his

Jimador lifting piñas.  Courtesy of Tequila G4.
Jimador lifting piñas. Courtesy of Tequila G4.

Ciroc vodka ads (his first successful partnership with Diageo), then he should stick to his word.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), the national trade association for America’s top distillers, and of which Diageo is a long time member, has strict guidelines when it comes to responsible digital marketing communications.

It is obvious that Sean Combs believes he is above adhering to these regulations, and in the process, managed to insult an entire country.

How Diddy Should’ve Done It

Jimador at work.  Courtesy of the Consejo Regulador del Tequila.
Jimador at work. Courtesy of the Consejo Regulador del Tequila.

The self-proclaimed tastemaker has proven to be very successful in everything he touches.  From music and clothing, to spirits and even reality TV, Diddy has left his indelible mark with sophistication and style.  So, when he hooked up with Diageo once more for DeLeón tequila, we expected more from him.

We expected this $700 million dollar mogul to immerse himself in Tequila Culture.  To get to know the process and the people of the new spirit he was embracing, and to bring a fresh look to an otherwise unremarkable brand like DeLeón.

We expected he would slap on some Sean John boots and venture out into the

Sean John Kingswood Moc boot.
Sean John Kingswood Moc boot.

agave fields to absorb its magic.  Who knows?  Maybe he would become inspired to design a whole new line of menswear made from agave fibers that would appeal to all ethnicities, just as he desires to do with DeLeón’s advertising.

How’s that for doubling your ROI and gaining street cred?

We’re NOT Laughing With You

Instead, we get this…

"So, if I wanna be number one, there has to be a number two."
“So, if I wanna be number one, there has to be a number two.”

Perhaps, we expected too much?

[In 2010 there were 6 other brands besides Ciroc that the San Francisco World Spirits Competition bestowed double gold medals to in the vodka category.]