If any of you know the Cocktail Bandits, you know that our first love is tequila. It is the reason why we created the brand. For the last 3 years, we have been studying/tasting different tequilas, learning about the tequila culture and making our own fun tequila cocktails. We were praying for a way to get down there to learn more and were so thrilled that our prayers were answered when the USBG- Charleston as well as the Hacienda Patron Academy gave us the opportunity of a lifetime! They invited us to Mexico!
For 2016, the #HaciendaPatron and USBG partnered up and are inviting top USBG bartenders from around the U.S. to visit their distillery. The mission: to learn the whole tequila process, and show why Patron is a great tequila company in Mexico.
When we first landed in Guadalajara, we were greeted by Chris Spake, the Director of Brand Education at Patron. We then traveled to the Westin Hotel, which was fabulous and our view of Guadalajara was amazing. Once everyone was settled we all loaded back on the bus, and went to this popular market area called Tlaquepaque Centro. There were shops, outside vendors, restaurants, and other tourist-like attractions. It’s was beautiful.
We were excited to find a pulqueria, (tavern that sells pulque) so we all stopped in to get a drink. Pulque is a milky, foamy, alcoholic beverage native to Mexico that is made from agave sap; very similar to tequila and mezcal, but lower in alcohol content. It tasted like a sour beer and came in different favors like strawberry and even mascarpone.
Later, we went to this beautiful restaurant, Casa Luna, and they prepared an 8 course dinner for us! They showered us with wonderful live music, delicious food, and great Patron cocktails. The highlight of the evening was when they opened the top of the restaurant and we could see the stars. It was unbelievable! After dinner, we all returned to the hotel, to get rest and prepare for the next morning.
The next morning, we woke up to a decked out, Patron Charter Bus that took us 2 hours away to Atotonilco el Alto, the home of Hacienda Patron. As soon we were getting closer to Patron, we saw these huge fields of agave plants. There were also other tequila distilleries in the area.
Jose Antonio Rodriguez Castillo from Patron was there to greet us and inform us on what we would should expect before we went to see the distillery. He was extremely knowledgeable about the full Patron tequila making process.
He explained that tequila is made from 100% blue agave. Agave is a succulent plant, that takes about 6-8 years to grow and be used in tequila production. Its extremely important in Mexico because it is the base and most important ingredient in tequila, and tequila production is essential for their economy.
Jose also talked about Master Distiller, Francisco Alcaraz, who has been in the tequila industry for decades. He created the first batch of Patron in 1989. Francisco’s handcrafted method for tequila has always used 100% agave. The unique thing about Patron was that the distiller used a centuries old method called the “Tahona”, and blended it with the more modern tequila making method called “Roller Mill.” We were excited to see both methods and tour the distillery.