Category: Touring Tequila

The Museum of Tequila and Mezcal (Museo del Tequila y el Mezcal) opened in December 2010 in Mexico City. We, along with our friend Clayton Szczech, of ExperienceTequila.com, decided to pay a visit, take a tour, and see how it compares to other tequila-themed museums.

Now, to be completely honest, we’ve been to our fair share of tequila museums before and most leave us disappointed. (In our opinion, the best “museum” experience comes from the town and distilleries of Tequila, Jalisco itself.) So we were pleasantly surprised with our experience at this particular museum, which is located in Plaza Garibaldi, best known as being the home of los mariachi in Mexico City. (This is where you come to hire a mariachi band for a party, or just hang out and enjoy the music.)

The museum gives a general overview of the tequila and mezcal production processes, highlighting their rich Mexican history, and has an impressive bottle collection containing some very rare specimens, including old Porfidio and Siete Leguas bottles. It was also very refreshing to see that this museum is brand-neutral, meaning that all brands are equally represented.

After the tour, we went up to the top floor bar and restaurant, “La Cata.” This is where tours end with a little taste of both tequila and mezcal.

For $50 pesos (about $4 US dollars) you get entry into the museum as well as complimentary mini shots of tequila and mezcal on the terrace, overlooking Plaza Garibaldi. Definitely worthwhile.

Where can you find well-known high quality tequilas sharing shelf space with obscure little-known brands that you can’t find in the United States? Be careful, or you may miss it.

El Buho, a small tequila store located just outside of Guadalajara in Tlaquepaque, Mexico, is jam-packed with tequilas that meet the approval of the store’s owner, Emilio – who personally tastes everything before it wins a spot on his shelf.

Each time we visit the Guadalajara region, El Buho is always on our list of places to visit. Surprises are always waiting for us because Emilio is always on the lookout for new and interesting tequila brands.

Not sure if you’re going to like a particular tequila? Just ask Emilio, and he may even let you sample it on the spot. Many of the brands in the store are available for in-store tasting. (Try that in the United States!)

I had the opportunity to interview Emilio in the store (video above.) We talked about some of his favorite personal tequila discoveries – a few of which can only be found in Mexico.

If you want to score some of the rare finds at El Buho, you’re gonna have to make the trip to Mexico. They aren’t able to ship tequilas to the United States. For tequila tourists, this store is a requirement.

Tequilas El Buho
Juarez 164-B
Tlaquepaque Centro
Jalisco, Mexico

Telephone: 36590863

A few blocks from the central square in the town of Tequila, Mexico, is La Capilla, a small cantina with a rich history and a steady stream of tequila tourists. This must-see tavern is owned and operated by a man in his nineties — Don Javier Delgado Corona, the creator of the popular tequila cocktail “The Batanga.”

The walls of the cantina are filled with photographs of tequila industry giants who have pulled up a bar stool, sipped on a Batanga or a shot of tequila, and listened to Don Javier talk about Tequila’s rich and colorful history.

Don Javier is no stranger to tourists. His guest book, now on its third volume, is thick, heavy, and full of the signatures and stories of his visitors.

As tequila tourists ourselves, we recently made our pilgrimage to La Capilla to meet Don Javier. We asked him to make a batch of Batangas for us (and our camera.) He told us the story of the drink, how it got its name, and the little-known “secret” to its flavor.

 

The Batanga: Tequila Drink Recipe

  1. Use a highball, or tall glass
  2. Use a lime wedge to coat the rim of the glass
  3. Dip the rim in a dish of salt to coat
  4. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime into the glass
  5. Add ice to fill the glass to the top (preferably with large-sized cubes)
  6. Add a really generous shot of blanco tequila to the glass, filling it about halfway
  7. Top off the remainder of the glass with Coca-Cola
  8. To honor Don Javier, stir with a big knife, the secret to its flavor

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If you’re planning to visit the town of Tequila, make sure you carve out some time to meet Don Javier, order up a Batanga, and listen to a few stories. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, it’s still a rewarding experience.

La Capilla Cantina
Calle México and Hidalgo
Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico

Mexicans are serious about their celebrations, and they’ve wisely packed the calendar with days for parties. This week is the biggest party of the year, Mexican Independence Day. Flags will be waved, fireworks will be displayed, drinks are poured, and thousands of people gather in main squares across the country to celebrate “El Grito,” or the call to independence made by Miguel Hidalgo back in 1810.

Most people in the USA don’t realize it, but Mexican Independence Day is actually this week – officially on September 16th (but the big party happens throughout the night on the 15th). In honor of the festivities, we thought we’d take a look at some of the best tequila-based drinks with which to enjoy such an occasion.

To pull this off, we invited a few of our favorite Mexico City drinking-buddies to our house to taste test several popular drinks made with tequila.

Here’s our lineup: straight tequila (we used Siete Leguas blanco); a “bandera,” which is a shot of tequila, sangrita and lime juice, lined up like the colors of the Mexican flag; a margarita (we made a “Pure Magarita“); and a “batanga” (tequila, Coke and lime juice.)

Our friends John, a long-time Mexico City resident, and Laura, an “authentic” Mexican, helped us decide which drink was best for the occasion.

Which celebratory drink will reign supreme? The complete tasting can be seen on the video (above.)

(By the way, after the taping both John and Laura agreed that the margarita was pretty darn tasty. To make a batch for yourself, head on over to our “Pure Margraita” tequila drink recipe.)

So you’ve scored some awesome tequila during your vacation or trip, and you want to get it home without breaking. I’ve been in this situation countless times – and have developed a few basic rules that, when followed, will increase the chance that your tequila will arrive safely at your destination.

If you’re like me, packing is a last-minute sport, and you need to do it quickly, and on the cheap. My rules are designed for people like me – with poor planning skills, no special packing materials, and a whole lot of precious tequila cargo.

Thankfully, by following my own rules, I’ve never had a bottle break, and I’ve never had an issue with security or customs.

11 Rules of Safe and Hassle-free Tequila Packing

1.) Only pack sealed bottles.

When you’re leaving Mexico, before you can check your luggage, they will hand inspect the contents of every bag. They’re mainly looking for a few things – like perishable food and plants – and if you’re carrying any liquor bottles, they want to make sure that they haven’t ever been opened, and that each bottle is sealed from the factory. If a bottle isn’t sealed, they won’t let you check it. So try to make it easy for them to see that the bottle is still sealed.

2.) Make it easy for airline & security personnel to access.

During these hand searches, don’t make it too difficult to access your bottles. If they have to dig around inside the bag and move everything that you’ve carefully packed, you’re going to have to re-pack everything all over again in a hurry as other people are waiting in line behind you. This includes wrapping your bottles all tight and secure in bubble wrap – which might seem like the best way to protect the bottles, but you’ll have to unwrap them all during the security process.

3.) Keep things right side up.

I always like to make sure that my bottles aren’t upside down. If your bag has wheels, make sure that the bottom of each bottle points to the wheels. This will prevent any major problems in the event that a cap comes loose. Be aware of how you will naturally be carrying the bag, and place the bottles accordingly in the bag.

4.) Don’t place bottles too close to any side of the bag.

You never know what’s going to happen in transit, and how your bag is going to be treated. I always assume that the bag will be thrown, dropped, and come into contact with other bags. So I always make sure that there is some cushion space around all sides of the bag.

5.) Don’t pack bottles directly in contact with other bottles.

I never pack bottles so there is glass-to-glass contact. If the bag is dropped or thrown, bottles crashing together could easily break. Also, keep in mind that during the entire flight, there will be constant vibration coming from the plane, it could end up breaking your bottles over time as they grind together.

6.) Jeans make great packing material.

I like to pack my bottles in jeans because they’re easy to get at (and quickly repack) during inspections, and the pant legs can completely surround the bottles. Also, some bottle designs contain corks that could come loose during the trip. By folding the pant legs over the cork, and tucking the pant under the bottle, you’re adding another layer of protection so the cork doesn’t come loose.

7.) Don’t overload the bag with tequila!

Remember, bags have a weight limit, and bottles of tequila can be heavy. Most airlines will charge you extra if your bags weigh more than 50 pounds. If you have access to a scale (at home, or in your hotel room), check the weight before you get to the airport.

8.) Avoid using bags that don’t have any support.

Duffel bags, backpacks, and other soft-sided bags aren’t ideal for transporting bottles. The lack of support will mean a greater chance of bottle damage. If you don’t have any other choice, and you pack carefully, you can still use one of these bags – but you won’t be able to fit as many bottles into it as you can with a bag that has more support.

9.) Plastic bags can help in case of breakage.

In the event that a bottle breaks during transit, the use of plastic bags can help you clean up the damage. It’s not going to be able to fully contain the spill, but it will make it easier to clean up the broken glass. Some people think that they should seal the bottle in a series of plastic bags to prevent the tequila from coming in contact with the clothing inside. This isn’t a good idea because it makes the bottles difficult to access during security screenings. If you have any clothing that is really important or delicate, and you want to be sure that no tequila comes in contact with them, place those items inside of a sealed large clear plastic bag instead.

10.) Don’t use newspaper as packing material.

Newspaper and magazines don’t make good packing material for heavy tequila bottles. They can compress during transit and end up leaving large gaps inside the bag where items can shift and bump into each other.

11.) Spread the weight evenly throughout the bag.

Remember that other people are going to need to pick up the bag throughout the journey, and if the bag is heavy on one side, it will be an unexpected surprise to these people. This could result in your bag being dropped and/or falling over and creating additional points of impact. An unbalanced bag can be very easily damaged.

 

Do you have any of your own rules to add to this list? If so, please contribute them below!
 
– Grover

 

We get a lot of tequila questions sent to us via our website –anything from “What tequila is a must-try?” to “Where is a good place to get married in tequila country?”

Up until now, we’ve just been hitting reply, but then we thought, why not answer them publicly so everyone can get the answers! So, we’re happy to introduce a new segment called “Viewer Mail” where we answer readers’ questions on video. If we don’t have the answers, we’ll dig into our network of tequila experts to find the answers for you.

Our first question is about something many tequila lovers want to know: “How can I safely store my tequila treasure bottles?”

To find the answer, we asked our friend and tequila expert David Yan, marketing director of Casa Noble tequila in Mexico.

Do you have a tequila question you’d like to be answered on air? Send your questions using the form on the Contact Us page on our website and we’ll do our best to get to the bottom of it!

-Taste Tequila

During my night job, I sip tequila. But during the day, I work with photographers via my company – PhotoShelter. Usually, my two worlds don’t mix. But back in July, that changed when Scarlet and I attended the Mayahuel Awards, which is like the Academy Awards for the tequila industry, run by the Mexican Academy of Tequila Tasters, in Guadalajara, Mexico.

As we entered, I immediately noticed lots of really nice images of the agave landscape and people working in the tequila industry. I looked closer, and noticed that the photographer’s name was Ben Olivares – a PhotoShelter user. It was at this point I realized my two worlds just conveniently bumped into each other.

I approached Ben, introduced myself and he was very surprised to see me there. But we quickly agreed to keep in touch and meet up in person again later.

A few weeks later, I arranged to visit Ben at his home so I could conduct a video interview with him. We talked about marketing and creating your own opportunities as a photographer – things that tend to be very interesting to other photographers. The interview ended up in a blog story called “6 Steps To Conquer A Niche Photo Market“.

The video also features many of his incredible images from the Tequila Valley (three of which will be hanging on our walls shortly.)

If you’re a photographer AND a tequila lover like me, you’ll probably really enjoy this video, but there still plenty for a tequila fan to enjoy too.

- Grover

Imagine what it would be like to give a tequila presentation to two Presidents and a Prime Minister, all of who are eager to find out about the history, culture and nuances of tequila.

Sounds pretty nerve racking, right? Well, this is exactly the situation tequila expert Miguel Cedeño faced earlier this year when he hosted U.S. President Barack Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a tequila tasting and primer.

However, Cedeño, being a well-recognized tequila expert, author, teacher, master distiller and scientist, managed to pull it off with apparent ease.

We sat down with Cedeño recently to talk to him about the experience and how he answered President Obama’s questions: “What’s your favorite tequila?”

He filled us in on the protocol of hobnobbing with presidents, which tequila President Calderón prefers, and where he sees the industry heading.

See our exclusive video here:

Watch and learn!

-TasteTequila

For some tequila lovers it’s not enough to simply go to the store and pickup their favorite brands. They crave the rare, the undiscovered, the known but forgotten—in short, they like to hunt for tequila treasures.

We recently met up with two treasure hunters after a very big haul. Our good friend Mark Alberto Holt, creator and the SFT Tequila Bar in Sayulita, and his friend David Yan, Marketing Director for Casa Noble tequila in Mexico, just finished ransacking the “cage” at the La Playa warehouse in Guadalajara. For those of you who are unfamiliar with La Playa, it is one of the largest liquor store chains in Mexico, carrying dozens of tequila brands. The cage is just as it sounds—an enclosed area in their storage warehouse where out-of-date bottles, half-drunk bottles, trash and occasionally expensive (but unknown) finds are literally thrown.

Mark and David waded through the mess and got themselves more than a little dirty, but boy did it pay off. They came back with 12 bottles of rare tequilas—some known, some unknown, and others that are old, old favorites.

We sat down with them at the Quinta Don Jose Boutique Hotel in Tlaquepaque to hear about their adventure, enjoy some refreshments and talk about the art of the hunt.

Find out what they discovered, and how you can embark on your own treasure hunt here:

-Taste Tequila

The other day we had Clayton Szczech from Experience Tequila over for drinks on our patio. Clayton gives tours of the tequila region to foreigners and he’s packed with knowledge on the area. He also has a pretty good sense of humor and a realistic view of the country so we thought that he would be a great person to ask this question: What are the top 10 things that gringos should know before they come to Mexico?

After all, there are a lot of misconceptions about Mexico. Westerners tend to be overly concerned about things like drug violence (which rarely affects law abiding civilians) and not as mindful of the more realistic dangers, such as water and traffic.

Clayton’s top 10 list of things that people should know before they come to Mexico:

    10.) Don’t drink the water.

    9.) Mexico can be noisy. (You’ll see as our water heater kicks on in the middle of the video.)

    8.) Keep your hands clean. (This relates back to water and sickness.)

    7.) Tequila selection is often limited. (What!!? But true!)

    6.) Money: Mexico is short on change. (‘No hay cambio.”)

    5.) Haggling: Not everything is cheap in Mexico.

    4.) Drugs — Don’t do them. Seriously. (You don’t want to end up in a Mexican jail.)

    3.) Drug war violence If you’re not looking for trouble, it probably won’t find you.

    2.) The real killer in Mexico… traffic. (Look both ways before crossing the calle.)

    1.) Using Spanish (It’s great to use the Spanish you know but keep in mind that most people can understand at least a little English. Especially if you are saying something not-so-nice within earshot of the locals. Don’t be ‘the ugly American.’)

Of course, Clayton explains all of these things with much more panache than we have included here. So watch the video, and learn. Then come down and visit us!

-Scarlet & Grover