A Celebration of Agave

ArteAgaveSkull_WhiteonBlack
ArteAgaveSkull_WhiteonBlack

We here at The Alcohol Professor know a thing or two about tequila, and happily celebrate its evolution from shot to sipper. So, when we heard about an event that celebrates all things agave, we knew we had to check it out. Arte Agave took place a few weeks ago at the Bowery Hotel, during a torrential downpour.  Although, you wouldn’t have had a clue about the weather outside, because inside the place was packed with folks who were there for the same reason – their love of agave spirits, Mexican food and culture.   The event itself was created by three friends, who like the guests attending that night, truly love and appreciate agave spirits, cuisine and art. The night, while primarily a showcase for the agave spirits, was really so much more - a true celebration.  Guests sipped on their cocktails and spirits, ate the delicious food from Añejo and Hecho en Dumbo, all while watching performances from Flor de Toloache, an all-female mariachi band, being serenaded by a guitar player, and making new agave-loving friends.

In the midst of all this celebrating I sampled some new spirits and was re-introduced to some favorites. Of course, I wouldn’t be a good agave-loving friend if I didn’t share them with all of you:

Tequila: From flavored to reposado, in margaritas or on the rocks – there were a variety of unique tequilas for me to sample.

Clase Azul Tequila
Clase Azul Tequila

Tanteo – I’m generally wary of flavored spirits, probably because I’ve had so many bad ones. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Tanteo’s infused tequilas. The jalapeno one gave a nice spicy kick to the common margarita.  Truthfully, I would say that the jalapeno flavor is best suited to just that – margaritas and cocktails, and is not so much a sipping tequila.  However, oddly enough, the cocoa flavored tequila was great on its own. It had a natural cocoa flavor that seemed to bring out a roasted, peppery complexity to the tequila.

Clase Azul – My guess is you’ve seen Clase Azul without even realizing it. Perhaps it was perched on the top shelf at your favorite bar and you thought that unique looking ceramic bottle was actually just for display, or maybe even a vase.  Yes, the bottle is quite beautiful, but please stop admiring it and start drinking what’s in it!  Clase Azul Reposado is the perfect sipping tequila. It has the ability to be sweet, with toffee and caramel flavors, and at the same time earthy and woodsy. It’s smooth to the finish, and will make you remember why you love tequila in the first place.

ArteNOM – There were three Tequila ArteNOM Seleccions to taste at Arte Agave. All were quite good, but for me the standout was the Seleccion de 1146, the añejo. Just the aroma alone was enough to make me happy.  It’s spicy with a bit of oak, and vanilla on the nose. The taste also doesn’t disappoint, with a nutty flavor, and a lingering finish.

Mezcal: Some call it the smokier, more bad-ass brother of tequila; however, I think of it as tequila’s female counterpart - complex and mysterious and oh-so-good on its own or in cocktails.

Mezcales de Leyenda
Mezcales de Leyenda

El Buho Mezcal – El Buho means “owl” in Spanish and that’s just what’s on the front of the bottle of mezcal. When you first smell it you may be a little surprised, as the smoky notes don’t seem apparent.  At first, it’s the sweetness you smell. However, if you like a long spicy and smoky finish to your mezcal you won’t be disappointed. I think that’s what I like most about this one – it’s almost a little surprising, as in many mezcals you are hit with that smokiness in the beginning.  But this comes on near the end, and boy what an end it is.

Mezcales de Leyenda – The Mezcales de Leyenda are all silver, unblended mezcals with names from the different states in Mexico in which they were produced.  The Mezcales de Leyenda Oaxaca is very gentle. The smoke is subtle and there are fruity, citrus notes to the spirit. Mezcal may be seen to some as agressive, but this is by far one of the more refreshing and delicate ones I have tasted. It is really a testament to the diversity of agave.