The first time I visited Tequila, Mexico was years ago when I was working as a reporter at a newspaper in Mexico City. Every once in a while our editor, Dan Dial, would hand out a press junket as a reward for work well done, and I was lucky enough to get the all expenses paid trip to the Jose Cuervo distillery.

This bottle of 1800 Añejo was produced in the Cuervo distillery.

This bottle of 1800 Añejo was produced in the Cuervo distillery.

I was a finance reporter at the time and there was no expectation that I write about the trip; I was just supposed to make some contacts and enjoy. The Jose Cuervo people flew a group of writers to Guadalajara, where we were picked up from the airport and ferried back to a hotel. I realized pretty quickly that none of my traveling companions were “serious” reporters – most were freelance travel or food and beverage writers who may or may not write anything for magazines that may or may not accept their work. I knew this for one reason: the entire group was dead set on doing nothing but getting drunk on this trip. They didn’t even bother with the old notebook and pen props. They carried shot glasses, and nothing else.

The morning after we arrived, Jose Cuervo put us all on a bus to Tequila, where the first and only stop was the Jose Cuervo distillery, called La Rojena. If you’ve never been, the Cuervo distillery is a big, beautiful hacienda, with patios draped in bougainvillea, facing a huge and immaculately landscaped courtyard. As soon as we pulled up to the property, we were swarmed by press agents who were standing in front of a table lined with full shot glasses of tequila. Within seconds we were engaged in a full-blown tasting of Cuervo’s complete product line, from low to high, including reserve tequilas that could only be tasted there. (I wish I had taken notes, but alas, I didn’t.) Five shots later, I was feeling pretty tipsy, and it was only 11 a.m.!

After the tasting, we were taken on a tour of the facility. I don’t remember much but the enormous tanks where the tequila was being distilled and the cavernous room, full of thousands of barrels, where it was aged. Then we were led to the hacienda’s grand patio, where we were offered a choice of margaritas. The patio was set with half a dozen large, round tables, which were teeming with food and tequila bottles.

I think they served us three or four courses that day, and with each course came a new tequila. In addition to the food and drink, Cuervo had also arranged for entertainment. There were mariachi and dancers from various regions of Mexico, as well as vaqueros on horses, doing tricks. As the afternoon lingered on, my companions became increasingly boisterous and unsteady. They were whooping and hollering, filling the soft Tequila air with their booming American voices.

At sundown, they finally escorted us back to the bus, and as a final gift they handed us full bottles of tequila as we boarded, along with plastic cups, so we could drink along the way. It was a long ride back to Guadalajara. I remember slinking into a seat at the back of the bus, curling up and trying to sleep, but it was impossible. Tequila was flowing as the group debated which bar they should stop at on the way back to the hotel. How they could possibly drink more was beyond me, but these were veteran food and drink writers, so they must have built up some sort of endurance.

When Grover and I return to Tequila next month it will actually be my third trip there, but I expect this one to the best so far. After all, we’ve got an exciting itinerary planned, and the only drunken journalists on our bus will be us.