It honor of this manufactured holiday, which I wholly support, I will share a story I wrote for Auberge Resort’s Esperanza to introduce their certified Catadores and Sommelier, Christian Moya. I love story telling, especially about people, food and places. But first, here are some recipes developed by Casa Dragones and mixologists at some of Dallas’ best Mexican food restaurants, Jose, Jalisco Norte and El Bolero. You can enjoy these cocktails in their dining rooms or at home.
Time Travel with Tequila Tasting
“It’s another tequila sunrise.” “Don’t ask her on a straight tequila night.” “Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine.” He Drinks Tequila. Me and Tequila. Tequila Sheila. “Tequila makes her clothes fall off.” And who can forget Tequila, 1958 hit re-popularized by Pee Wee Herman? Ah, the many odes to tequila. The national drink of Mexico made from a plant that is the most spectacular shade of blueish green I’ve ever seen, it’s the color of the sea when dark storm clouds are above, its many arms spread out like a powerful Hindu goddess.
I grew up in Guadalajara City, about an hour southeast of Tequila, Jalisco and remember speeding by fields of agave, blurs of greenish blue along the road during family road trips. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been around tequila. My family always had a few bottles of tequila open and available for occasions – special and everyday – for family, friends new and old, and perfect strangers. Tequila is about my culture, my family and my country’s history. It’s a great joy that my job at Esperanza allows me to share my passion with others.
Esperanza has been my home for 12 years. I am a Certified Tequila Master and a Certified Level 2 Sommelier, working on my Level 3 exam. I’m both student and teacher, drinking in every bit of knowledge I can, then sharing it with guests. In addition to overseeing the beverage program at each restaurant and bar here, I work closely with the chefs on pairings for meals and banquet events and I host tequila tastings, which might be one of my favorite activities here.
Twice a year I journey to Jalisco, the land of blue agave in southwest Mexico, to meet tequila distillers, taste new batches and tour the agave fields that sprawl peacefully in the shadow of the Tequila Volcano (which is not a cocktail, rather an inactive volcano that is responsible for the rich soil ideal for growing blue agave). In the air is the unmistakable smell of tequila in various states of distillation. I return to Esperanza after these visits invigorated and ready to share what I’ve learned.
Many of our guests are well traveled and have basic, if not moderate, knowledge of wine. It’s my greatest privilege to teach the history and nuances of tequila and its cousin, mezcal, of which guests tend to know less. When I conduct a tequila tasting event I’m often told a variation of the same story: guests’ experience with tequila consists of a bottle of tequila, a drum of table salt, cut up limes, and a regrettable feeling the next morning. Unceremoniously slugging tequila versus smelling, tasting, wetting your lips and absorbing the depth of flavors on your tongue is as different as acid rock is from bossa nova.
I like to say that each tequila tasting session is like time travel; I cover 2,400 years in 60 minutes. The “classroom” is breezy, open-air, often with a view of the sea, and set with proper tasting glassware, a beautiful display of the many kinds of tequila and mezcal we offer and places for each tester. I offer four kinds of tequila and one mezcal for comparison. Mezcal is not nearly as well known as tequila and is often disregarded because of its strong, smoky flavor. I often find that guests who gravitate towards a “peaty” scotch have a distinct affinity for mezcal as well. There are many “ah-ha!” moments during the tasting and it’s rewarding to see guests continue to process their learning by trying new tequilas throughout their stay.
I’m proud to know that when guests leave here, they have a new respect for tequila and, long after they’ve returned home, they continue to share their experience and knowledge of tequila. Some of my best days on this job have been spending time with a group of 12 eager learners who become as passionate about the history and taste of tequila and mezcal as I am. When I leave Esperanza, whether it is for visits to international wine regions to continue my enology education, to Jalisco to visit the distilleries or to one of the up-and-coming Baja Valley vineyards, I am always seeking more information and knowledge on my passion for wine and spirits so I can continue to share with guests.
Christian Moya and his team of spirit and wine experts would love to share their knowledge and passion with you. Complimentary tequila tastings are offered Tuesday and Saturdays at 5 p.m. Please contact your concierge to arrange your own tasting.