Tequila Tapatio is one of those legendary tequilas that was even hard to find in Mexico much less in the States. For years the closest you could get to it in California was either smuggling it over the border -after you found it, of course or drinking Charbay’s Tequila Blanco which they collaborated on with Tequila Tapatio.
Carlos Camarena, the distiller of Tapatio, met Charbay’s Marko Karakasevic at Aspen’s Food and Wine festival over 10 years ago. For years Marko thought he knew about how tequila was distilled until he was invited to try it at Carlos’ distillery in the highlands of Jalisco. It was like welcoming someone into your home and watching them fumble around with your adored prize. These days Marko acknowledges how difficult distilling tequila is. Eventually Charbay was able to import Tapatio and they would make a delivery every now and then to Los Angeles.
Now boutique distributor Congenial Spirits is distributing all expressions of Tapatio along with other craft spirits such as Racer 5 Bourbon, Cedar Ridge Bourbon, Cedar Ridge Rum and V Bourbon Yahara Bay in Los Angeles. Congenial is run by Geoffrey Couch and Vaugh Halyard. They have Tapatio in about 25 spots in LA with more on the way. Find it at Petty Cash and all the other spots run by Julian Cox such as Picca, Sotto, Short Order and Bestia. It’s also at FIG and Spare Room. El Carmen, Goldie’s and Neat are also interested in carrying Tapatio as well. If you would like to buy your own, it’s available at K&L Wines, Winehouse and down at Hi-Times in Orange County.
I recently tried the Tapatio blanco, reposado, anejo and the overproof B110 neat at Cole’s and also in cocktails at a launch party held at Las Perlas.
Director of Mixology and Portfolio Brand Ambassador for Congenial Spirits Amanda Gunderson (formerly of the Bazaar’s Bar Centro) along with Patina Restaurant Group’s Paul Sanguinetti were behind the stick this evening. The cocktail list was comprised of 5 cocktails showcasing all the expressions.
The first cocktail I had was the Lolita Swizzle. I love swizzles and this was great starter for a warm night. Showcasing the the blanco, it was supported by my new favorite Art in the Age Sage “garden gin” (think gin but instead of juniper, it’s sage) plus wonderful farmers’ market cherries.
Lolita Swizzle – Tapatio blanco, Art in the Age SAGE, farmers’ market cherries, honey, lemon
It was a beautiful night of cocktails and tacos on the Las Perlas patio. I really should spend more time at this agave spirits only bar.
Paul did an amazing job on the bitters design for the 110 Rush Hour; it looks a bit like a running horse. The sour was named after the B110 overproof tequila as well a play on the traffic often found on California’s freeways including the 110. It is the best kind of drink after being stuck on the road (but not while driving!). Now if only we had a pegasus to get us everywhere.
110 Rush Hour – Tapatio B110, 3/4 spiced apricot syrup, lemon basil, lemon, egg white, Angostura bitters
I somehow reversed my order of drinking and ended with the boozy Pancho Villa showcasing the anejo expression. I tend to love anejo tequilas for the rich, honey-like quality. It’s probably because it hits the right notes for a whiskey drinker like myself. Done in a stirred style like a Manhattan, this would be my go-to either neat or in a cocktail.
Pancho Villa – Tapatio anejo, Aperol, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, peach bitters
I can’t wait to see more Tequila Tapatio out in the wild. Tapatio bar crawl! Salud!
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© The Minty // LA Cocktails 2013
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