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It has been quite some time since I blogged and bragged about Mexico and her meanderings and culture, and in light of this, and the changes in my own life, I have with this new year, and the start of a “New Calendar “(after all the world did not come to a grinding halt last month as predicted or assumed), I thought this an opportune time to pick up where I left off and to resume my collective thoughts, insights and ideas about the country and culture I love the most.
While never far from my beloved Mexico, I have been in these recent years, deeply vested in the world of spirits and in particular, tequila. My education and subsequent mentors in furthering my knowledge and wisdom of the “Octli” or “Nectar of the Gods”, discerning good from not-so- great, in the evolution of American consumption of the elixir, has led to such notoriety as being a “Noble Blogger” for Carlos Santana’s brand, Casa Noble (http://santanatequila.com/?p=3661) a consistent blogger and commentator for the premium, if not decadent Riazul Premium Tequila (http://www.riazul.com) , and an occasional commentator, humorist and sometimes pest to such “Aficianado’s” as Mike Morales, of The Tequila Aficianado (https://www.facebook.com/TequilaAficionado) to name a few.
I have called myself a friend and associate to the Solorzano team, from Miami and Houston, who have branded their brands under Single Barrel Spirits (www.singlebarrelspirits.com/) one relationship at a time, producing three families of tequila, Solorzano, Acumbaro, Tequila Canicas and Copita. Each unique and as different as the next.
I have gasped at the splendor of the crystal decanter of “Casa Dragones” (http://casadragones.com/) , an Oprah Winfrey Favorite Thing (http://casadragones.com/oprahs-favorite-tequila/) , and I have collectively been a part of dynamic teams collaborating for the purpose of launching newer brands, such as Pavoneo Tequila (http://pavoneo.com/) with less emphasis on the display and pure dedication to the juice contained within.
I have followed the likes of The Agave Idiots (http://www.agaveidiots.com/) , who will weigh in on their favorites from week to week, and downloaded the elaborate and well executed rating sheets of Kelly Cash (www.tequilaneat.com/Tequilas.xls) , 772 rated and growing, and recognized authority on the topic of tequila and her many notes and characteristics, from brand to brand.
I have seen countless celebrity endorsements, parody’s and ad’s of those who have succumb to the modern movement that resembled that of the Vodka-age just a decade or so ago….and relent to the “Most Interesting Man in the World” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=U18VkI0uDxE) who simply imbibes in a Dos Equis beer rather than get caught up in the ‘trend”….. which is, in my estimation, relatively uninteresting.
I have cowered to the notorious Wise Guy, Michael Imperioli who, seemingly unnaturally partakes of 1800 (www.1800tequila.com ) as though this is what makes him a force to be reckoned with. Jesse Jane, a notorious Adult Film Actress assured me that Diosa (http://diosatequila.com/Diosa_Tequila/Diosa_Tequila_An_Orgy_of_Flavors.html ) was orgasmic, apparently a hedonistic orgy in a bottle (Are you SERIOUS????) , and Toby Keith sang to me about abdicating responsibility to an innocent worm, who by no account of his own, wound up in his Wild Shot Mezcal (http://wildshot.com/) which is technically NOT a tequila.
While hanging with his friends with benefits, Justin Timberlake, no longer a Back Street Boy, reinvented a 60 year old recipe and made it new with 901 Tequila (http://www.901.com/) and lest I not forget that satirical funny man, Kinky Friedman, who cultivated a Super Premium 6 year Anejo, “Man in Black, Tequila Noir” (https://www.facebook.com/events/330772680295349/) .
I might make mention of a long haired rocker, who sold out to big box, product name sounds like “Cabo”,: however just last week in a local Los Cabos bar, thought himself too good, long after his washed out career to take note of my effort to introduce myself. I suspect in hindsight, and by admission of his company he was pretty wasted on the gasoline (IMHO) he once thought to call “tequila”. (Sorry no links, wasn’t an experience worth promoting and simply left a “bad taste in my mouth, like Chickenfoot”??? OUCH! Let this be a lesson to ya’ll, you don’t know who you don’t know and “dis’ing” someone drunk or otherwise can earn you some demerits…….)
However, my most recent favorite launch and endorsement is that of “Casamigos”( http://casamigostequila.com/) in which George Clooney, and Randy Gerber (founders) are quoted as saying ““Tequila-filled nights with friends is how Casamigos was born. Our idea was to make the best-tasting, smoothest tequila. One we didn’t have to cover up with salt or lime.”
American’s by ignorance or stupidity have been drinking tequila forever with the notion that it be chased with salt and lime. There are conflicting tales of how this came to be and a resounding assumption that it is for the purpose of getting drunk, and the salt and lime chase the back bite of the unpleasant juice. Seriously? Are we so primitive and ape-like a society that we still prescribe to the idea that getting drunk requires consumption of a foul tasting liquid that pours salt into our veins and limes that take the enamel right off our pearlie whites?
The truth is, like the celebrities, let’s face facts; salt and lime has nothing to do with tequila. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Mexico restaurants and bars offer it because American’s know no other way and frankly, in Mexico limes go with everything from preserving avocados, curing fish for ceviche, to beer and “totopos “(tortilla chips).
Tequila, distilled in Jalisco, Mexico, dates back to the Spanish Inquisition when disease spread with a virility faster than medicine could cure the ailment. Preceding glass bottles, tequila was bottled in clay. Clay by nature is a porous material that harbors diseases such as E-Coli, and a collects bacteria. Salt when mixed by saliva mouth to bottle, causes particles of clay to stick together and settle. Lime added to liquid is very caustic and destructive to organic matter as well as germs. A 3 per cent solution kills typhoid bacilli in one hour. A 20 per cent solution added to human excreta and filth will disinfect them in an hour. Mexicans do not drink Tequila, the drink of their heritage with Salt and Lime, rather they sip the elixir enjoying the complexity of the notes and characteristics of the product from “Joven” (young) to “Anejo” (Aged). Enjoyed at most tables like the wine of her sister cultures in Argentina, Chile or Italy.
Today, Salt and Lime are used as “training wheels” for those who are not familiar with the taste and are acquiring a palate for it. The salt concept to “alleviate the burn” and the sour of the lime to “balance the notes and flavors”. Typically this is called “Tequila Cruda” and correlates with the clear Blanco’s that have not had time to age, and mature the flavors and values of the drink. So, think Crude Oil, before it lands in the gasoline pump.
Those who KNOW, really KNOW tequila, will tell you, it’s not designed to get you loaded and offer an excuse for poor social conduct. Those who love tequila will tell you it is the embodiment of all that is elegant, cultured and tasteful that is Mexico. And those who know better will tell you, the brand has nothing to do with the name, endorsement, or marketing strategy, and has everything to do with the chemistry, time and maturation of the agave plants, and centuries of tradition, cultivation and resting barrels, and the absolute love of the countrymen and women who manufacture it as their ancestors did before them. A time honored tradition of a culture steeped in pride and love.