Saturday I was delighted to attend Bone Garden Cantina's Tequila Tasting Experience. Since I have never considered myself a tequila connoisseur, I thought it best for me to partake in this slice of enlightenment.
To set the stage, the event took place at the secret, intimate location of Bone Garden Cantina, tucked away in a cozy corner of West Midtown. Prepare to be transported to a village of Mexico upon entering these doors, and feast your eyes on the curious and colorful interior, decorated from head to toe in the fashion of "Dia De Los Muertos." Day of the Dead is a celebration honoring those who are no longer with us though gifts of brightly colored sugar skulls, paper banners and skeleton artwork and memorabilia. The owners, Kristen and Michael, travel to Mexico frequently to pick up ideas that add to the simple a la carte menu, and the extensive tequila selection.
The tequila tasting was led by the lovely and informative team of Becca & Tricia. These ladies wowed us all with their exceedingly knowledgeable discussions of the history, production, and art forms of producing tequilas. Today we focused on 4 tequilas from the Jalisco region of Mexico, and a 5 course sampler of their delicious, interesting menu.
Upon taking our seats in the intimate dining room, we were greeted with warm tortillas chips, along with fresh salsa and guacamole. Our first tequila up for discussion is the Maestro Dobel. I'll include some interesting facts on each tequila that were included in helpful handouts at each place setting.
"Maestro Dobel is created by Juan-Domingo "Dobel" Beckman, the sixth generation leader of the Cuervo Tequila company. It's a blended one-year reposado, two-year anejo, and three-year extra anejo. Bone Garden Cantina's special edition tequila is aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels with a medium char."
We were served the tequila in a cocktail, comprised of Maestro Dobel tequila, lime juice, honey and a splash of water. Yum.
Our first course was a fresh yucatan salad, with grapefruit, fresh avocado, romaine lettuce, red onion and sunflower seeds. A citrus vinaigrette ties all of these flavors together.
From there, we moved on to tasting other tequilas. According to Becca, the best way to taste tequila is to pour a sample into a snifter. You want to swirl the tequila around in the glass and it will get nice and aromatic. We loved to see everyone's different swirling techniques. Holding the glass about an inch from your nose, you can get a waft of he complex flavors. Sometimes, the smells of tequilas and the tastes can be different. Interesting. Next, you will "tongue the tequila!" You want to take a small taste into your mouth to experience how it feels on your tongue. Then, you can sip the tequila or knock it back.
This tequila is Cabeza, which is a Blanco. It has a sweet, almost floral essence to it, which they call "Agave forward."
Interesting facts (lifted from our provided handouts): "The tequila is roasted in brick ovens, and fermented to the sounds of Beethoven during winter months. (Pregnant moms use this "mozart method" for soothing their babies) The Cabeza is fermented with champagne yeast in copper tanks, and rested in stainless steel for 60 days before bottling."
The next delectable dish was one of my personal favorites, the pollo asado taco. Start with a corn tortilla, grilled chicken marinated in oregano & clove, and topped with salsa machucada and fresh cilantro. Served with rice and beans. DIVINE!
And baby, the tequila kept coming!
Our next selection of tequila is the Fortaleza, which was my absolute favorite. A shockingly buttery flavor with a great backstory.
From our notes: " Fortaleza was founded and crafted by Guillermo Erikson Sauza, fifth-generation descendant of the Sauza Family. The distillery was opened in 1493, then shut down in 1968 to be a museum. Guillermo restored the factory into working condition in 1999, and uses the original century-old equipment, and a pit for crushing 7-9 year old agave with a stone wheel. The distillery produces the same amount in a year, that Sauza Tequila produces in one day." What a treat to taste this delicious tequila in a hand - blown glass bottle!
The afternoon was turning into an amazing expedition into the history and artform of making tequila. Who knew!?
We were served our next plate of perfection, in the form of a braised pork sope. This dish is a corn mesa cup (think cornbread), filled with pork and topped with cabbage and radish slices. Extremely tasty and nice presentation. We were all really getting into it and this dish got raves from my table.
The crew wanted us to try two different tequilas from the same family, to compare. So we ended on an Anejo. No complaints here.
We were treated with dessert after our educational journey into the history of tequila, in the form of a soft and sweet empanada, filled with rice pudding and just a hint of cinnamon. I know, right?! It was incredible. Our tablemates lovingly compared the empanada to the Bone Garden Cantina's churros - A dessert in a class all it's own.
I can think of no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon, than by sipping tequila and munching on the culinary delights at Bone Garden. The crew, staff, owners, bartenders, hosts... are part of a bigger experience that is the secret, hideway, absolute jewel of Bone Garden Cantina.