“Tequila Certification”: One of Our Vegas Editors Becomes a Tequila Sommelier
is often associated with college-party excess and wee-hour scandals, but it may be one of the most maligned and misunderstood spirits.
More than merely fuel for your Margarita, tequila rightly deserves a prominent spot on your bar year ‘round. Which is why Mexico’s Consejo Regulador del Tequila created the “Award T” program, an educational program that teaches and certifies restaurants, bars and retailers in all things agave-based.
Mindful of the two major fiestas — Mexican Independence Day and Dia De Los Muertos — the CRT and Cazadores Tequla jointly held the first-ever Award T class in the United States at the Las Vegas branch of Dos Caminos restaurant a few weeks back, enlisting every staffer—even Corporate Executive Chef Scott Lindquist. So, naturally, I had to see what all the fuss was about.
The six hour seminars were split into two parts. The first, led by CRT’s Daniela Solis Palomera, instructed us on the painstaking process of growing and harvesting blue agave weber pinas by jimadores and the classical and modern techniques of cooking, extraction, formulation, fermentation and distillation—sometimes followed by aging. Then Palomera explained tequila regulations, how the appellation is controlled and quality maintained in the 150 approved distilleries (up from 39 in the mid-90s), and reviewed the history and mythology of drinking agave nectar from the Aztecs to modern times—including how the tradition of salt and lime got started (apparently during a flu epidemic).
After a lunch of Dos Caminos’ signature guacamole, chopped salad, chicken quesadilla, and short ribs tacos en cazuela, Cazadores Brand Ambassadora Tania Oseguera took over, leading an instructive tasting of the different flavor profiles and proper uses of Silver, Anejo and Extra-Anejo tequilas. Then Tania got behind the bar and demonstrated some fresh cocktail mixing, including a spicy-sweet tamarind Margarita, a citrusy Casuela, a peppery Sangrita and a refreshing cucumber Margarita del Mercado, completing a thorough learning experience with some creatively different finished products.
E.C.Gladstone is a Las Vegas editor for EscapeHatchDallas. He is a contributor to dozens of national magazines.