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Blue Agave on a Blue Monday: Tequila's New Order


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Hence the announcement read, and hence all I knew:

Tequila Seminar / Industry Event, Monday, May 3, 2pm, Farmers & Fishers:

You are invited to attend a special industry-insiders’ Tequila Seminar with David Suro. Enjoy a tastings of selected Siembra Azul tequilas along with a lite lunch as David shares background, history, guidance and insight for mixologists and the media. RSVP is requested to Chief Mixologist Jon Arroyo.

Because I was representing/mentioning/trying not to completely embarrass our fearless leader and this community, I showed up on time. And mostly sober.

Turns out this event was far more about the education and message of the agricultural challenges (including specialized labor shortage issues) than a flavor play-by-play. And yes, Mexican poverty is part of it. But until today, I had not considered how the system channels profit solely to distillers and never back to the farmers who nurture the 8 to 12-year old agave plants. This imbalance is further promoted by NAFTA's 2007 "death blow" to tequila and a couple of other destabilizing policies that bantered around my noggin for the first time today.

The speaker, David Suro-Piñera, was a PHENOMENAL tequila advocate. His geographical knowledge, deep love of terroir, and passion for history combined for a uniquely educational and awareness-inducing dialogue. The next time I am in Philly, I will hit Tequilas taquería, his revenue-generating business. The model of his tequila business, on the other hand, is to aim it's funding towards the Siembra Azul Foundation, teaching English and providing medical services to the immigrant population. It’s additional mission is to work with industry and academia to add to the research base associated with this misunderstood spirit.

After learning that, my own "day job" suddenly felt very very tiny.

In addition to a recap of the five Mexican states associated with appellation status, the obligatory overview of highland vs. lowland characteristics, the perils of an industry that relies on monoculture, a summary of how blancos, reposados, and añejos differ, and a funny story about why the 2007 mixto tequilas taste an awful lot like tomatoes, David taught us a way to drink tequila I will never forget. It's kind of like a yoga asana designed to stimulate both brain hemispheres. I will have to demonstrate this for everyone sometime, perhaps at the picnic? The method rocked my world, and it wasn't the 80 proof talking.

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