I started enjoying good tequila in 1992 while managing a bar and restaurant in Washington DC called Roxanne. On that beautiful rooftop, I would sip El Tesoro all night long with a Pacifico back. These were two products that were new to me and I was in love with them. El Tesoro, produced at the La Altena Distillery in Arandas, Mexico by Carlos Camarena, had only been available in the US since 1989 and was a complete eye opener to me. It changed the way I drank. It changed the way I thought about spirits. And 21 years later, it is still one of my favorite spirits in the world; the benchmark for great tequila.
But in that time Carlos and his family distillery have produced some other brands that were launched in the US and I am equally a fan of those. Most recently, Marko Karakasevic, of Charbay fame, has imported the Tapatio brand and even launched a 110 proof version (which is insane and so welcome - bring in more high proof tequila!). But a very cool project of Marko's that launched this recent collaboration was when Marko and his dad Miles produced their own blanco tequila with Carlos and launched Charbay Blanco. I was a there in the La Altena distillery with Julio Bermejo, Enrico Caruso, Nick Strangeway, Naren Young, Aisha Sharp, Duschan Zaric, Gregor DeGruyther (RIP), and a couple dozen other amazing people when Miles was with us, looking at the tanks and the agave fields and I said to myself "What is he up to? I bet he's going to make a tequila!" Sure enough they did and it is delicious and I have a couple of bottles of the very first batch!
Another great project out of that distillery is Tequila Ocho, created with Tomas Estes (whom I also met on that trip) and originally launched in Europe, then brought into the US by Lyons Brown, another great person this product has brought me to). The idea here is single vintage tequilas, all from one particular field of agave and harvested at just the right moment. Each bottling is of a field and a year and it is all stated on the bottle. A game changing brand that highlights terroir in tequila as well as vintage. I have the first bottling of the Anejo, which is now very hard to find.
There are some other greats on the list, like Herradura from before the use of diffusers; Los Abuelos, the original form of the delicious Fortaleza that Guillermo Sauza makes, before someone forced him to change the name; an INCREDIBLE and rare bottle of Chinaco Negro extra anejo; and some old Pueblo Viejo, again before a production change.
So bring Mom into Elixir, teach her how to drink tequila, about the beautiful culture behind it, about the agriculture and tradition of the regions and about integrity in spirits. OR just order a few copitas and talk about whatever comes up! Happy Mother's Day, to my Mom, my daughter's Mom, and your Mom!