Raiding the Minibar

Separate from the tequila to drink and/or serve, I have become obsessed with collecting mini/half bottles of the Tequila brands I love.

Though not all brands I love make a mini-or half bottle (Pasote? Gran Dovejo?) I have found the following:

  1. La Gritona (Repo)
  2. ArteNom (1123, 1414, 1579 and 1146)
  3. 123 Organic (1-2-3)
  4. Tears of Llorona
  5. Ocho (Repo) 500ml
  6. Fortaleza (Blanco & Anejo)
  7. El Tequileno (Platinum and Gran Reposadl)
  8. El Tesoro (Blanco)
  9. Arette Unique (Repo)

I sought out the Fortaleza Anejo but a rep from the company told me they didn’t make a 375ml. Ocho Blanco and Arette Unique Blanco have not been findable but through this r/tequila I was hipped to the Tepozan collection which I will add soon. I have not pursued non additive-free tequilas, Patron, Don Julio, Herradura, of which there are many mini (375m) and nip sizes.

I’m only sorry I didn’t start sooner with the additive-free bottle collecting because I am certain the costs of these small bottles would have been much more manageable a few years ago (though perhaps the demand would not have been there).

Is Cascahuin 11Brix (or substitute name of bottle you can’t afford here) worth it?

When the question is “Is this bottle worth it?” The best answer is almost always: if you are simply looking to blow your mind with great tasting, additive-free tequila, you can do for a much lower cost. Folks on the tequila boards and in the additive-free communities will most frequently cite Tapatio, Arette, G4 (maybe not anymore), Terralta, El Tesoro, Primo, ArteNom, Organic 1-2-3, etc. And I agree.

But sometimes the questioner is adding subtext, or second question, like “What about this opportunity to own, gift, perhaps resell, and even enjoy this rare bottle.” That’s more complicated because if the asker doesn’t know what they like, then knowing whether the extra $$ over MSRP is worth it is not truly knowable. I am a fan of Don Fulano, and so paying MSRP for the 20th Anniversary was a no brainer, because I knew I would like it and I did! (And perhaps my favorite bottle right now). Same with the Siembra Valles and Siembra Azul limited editions. I have loved nearly everything they made, so I was not afraid to pay some (again, MSRP) to get it.

Cascahuin’s limited expressions, especially the 11 Brix , are always hard to come by. I did score a bottle and I tried it with David, my Tequila-in-Arms-Brother and we decided that it was so outrageously good that we should each get a bottle if we could. This turned out to be harder than we thought, even at outrageous leaps over MSRP and even with trusted folks in the business. A pint of blood each later, we each secured one, but then we knew it would be quite a while before we could spend again and that we had better enjoy this bottle with all of our ability.

Again, 300 smackers is a lot. Magnificent in nearly every way- aroma, taste, mouth feel. But 11Brix is a lot. It prompts the question “If you could go back in time to 2021 and see a shelf lined with Tequila Ochos Puntas and F.t.l.z.a. WB 21, would you have loaded up your cart?” My answer is likely “Yes,” but not just because of their possible future value but because they represent a high-water mark in tequila production that may not be equalled. Some think the same for expressions that have stopped being made, like Pasoste at NOM 1579 or the Cabeza Tequila line. Generally but not always, these sought-after bottles are very, very good.

If you know about Cascahuin, 1123, and know your tequila taste, and you can afford it, I say you get it, because it is unlikely you will find it cheaper in a year, at which time in your tequila journey its value may have increased.

Looking the greatest Tequila Cocktail for Memorial Day? Look no further

IMG_6971Back in 2009 I had the good fortune to eat at a restaurant called Hungry Mother, in Cambridge, MA (which has since closed) and I was literally stopped in my tracks by this incredible mixed drink. This is notable since I don’t like mixed drinks and I like my tequila straight.

The drink was simply called “Drink #57” and basically tastes like a delicious, refreshing lemonade, which is not what you would think from looking at the ingredients! You might immediately conclude that it would taste bad, because the ingredients call for mixing sour lemon, beer and tequila.  But if you love lemonade, you will love it.

I loved this drink so much that for months I tried to reproduce it home. When I realized I couldn’t, I knew I would have to ask them for the recipe. Rachel at the Hungry Mother thoughtfully provided the recipe:

DRINK # 57 (Hungry Mother Cocktail)

Fill High Ball glass with ice and build:

  • 3/4 oz Don Julio Tequila
  • 3/4 oz Becherovka
  • 1.5 oz Sour Mix (equal parts fresh squeezed lemons and simple syrup, which is 1 part sugar to 1 part water)
  • Roll once ( one stir )
  • Top with Ale – we were serving it with the Smutty Nose Star Island Single, but now have changed that to Mayflower Brewing Golden Ale … not sure which you had, but any bright ale would serve the purpose.

Robert’s 57

Of course, Hungry Mother is a great restaurant and they have professional bar tools and everything.  I found that nearly the same drink could be made by using the three ingredients in the picture:

  • Patron Silver Tequila
  • Stirrings Sour Lemon
  • White Harpoon UFO

In a tall beer glass, add tequila and sour lemon in a 1:2 ratio, whether you’re using a 1.5 oz jigger or 1 oz shot glass. Top with beer.  Mix!  (I am no mixologist)

That’s it!  Thanks Hungry Mother, and if you’re in Kendall Square, check out their new restaurant, State Park (for take out during the pandemic).

Why Should I Like Tequila? For All You Skeptics— Posted on National Tequila Day, July 24 2016

Patron Tequila Silver, Blanco, Patron Bottle

The first tequila I tasted that did not make me recoil in horror and reach the protection of a pile of salt and a wedge of lime.

About 10 years or so ago, my brother and I found ourselves a bit outside Philadelphia, at a celebration honoring my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary.  Flying with young families is a tiring thing and our wives and children had taken to bed at an early hour, leaving us at about 9:30pm in strange city with no car and very few ideas of what to do– the rest of the family was not due until the next day.   So we retired to the bar at the hotel, which happened to be a Bennigan’s (or something very much like that).

I asked him what he was drinking.  He is a spirit enthusiast, and is always furthering his own knowledge of different ones, though I believe Scotch and Rum are favorites.  On this evening he said “Tequila.”  As nearly everyone would have done at the time, I recoiled in horror at the memory of the paint-thinner like gold substance that had left me and my college roommates flattened of affect, dizzy and ill of constitution after a night spent with the drink.   The whole idea of the lime and salt seemed like lipstick on a pig (and in actuality, better, because at least pigs are made of bacon).    Seeing this look he sought to reassure me.  “No, it’s better now.  They have high end Tequila.   He ordered two neat glasses of Patron silver, whose brand was unknown to me (and I suppose, hundreds of rap stars) at the time.

On tasting it I did not spit as in a double take.  The flavor was smooth, cool, and refreshing.  Based on what I thought it would be, I was surprised at the mild and restrained quality of its agave flavors.    It was like discovering you like Jazz– a creaky door opens in your mind where you realize you might have judged a thing too harshly, too quickly, or based on a poor candidate for its entire cannon.

Since then I have discovered not just that I like Tequila— and certainly it seems my timing makes me part of the tequila revolution—but that it might be my favorite spirit of all.  Previously I had been consigned to some version of a blended scotch, or vodka with some juice but tequila had a flavor that I actually liked—a bit of lime and ice were enough, and eventually no lime at all was necessary, and the salt stayed where it belongs- in the shaker.

I suppose the epilogue is that I feel strongly enough about the spirit to actually write about it, during a time when there is very little in any day to do so.   So it may not be often, but it will be passionately felt.  So today, on what is apparently National Tequila Today,  I wish you a responsible and happy celebration.   I am likely to have a glass of Arte Nom 1580.

The Winner and Still Champion- ArteNOM Seleccion Tequila

IMG_6145Of all the tequila I have had, far and away, the best, at any price range, is the Tequila ArteNOM Seleccion.   As I understand it, the tequilas are numbered following the casks they are aged in, which include Sherry and Port casks.  The numbers do not stay the same, as their current blanks are 1549 and 1579, which followed the infinitely superior and now out of stock 1079 (pictured, above).   The Blanco is smooth, crisp and surprisingly delicious.  The Reposado, which is usually my favorite in any tequila line has a delicious carmel-like taste.  The Anejo is the crown jewel, a superior sipping tequila that should be enjoyed slowly and likely after dinner.   For fans of tequila, you cannot go wrong with anything in this line.  These are in my opinion, after sampling many different tequilas, the finest spirits available today.   If you want to serve me tequila, please have this in your cabinet.