If you can stock only a few tequilas and mezcals, what would you choose? Several on-premise experts offer their picks to cover all the bases, from shots and drinks to cocktails and even sippers.
“It’s definitely hard to choose, but I would happily have anything coming from Siembra, Rey Campero and Mezcal Vago,” says Gillian White, bar manager of Meauxbar in New Orleans. Casamigos Mezcal, Tequila Patron Añejo and Codigo Rosa are the succinct choices from Rachel Hagger, bar manager of FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar in Bloomington, MN.
Devon Daley, manager of The Sternewirth at the Hotel Emma in San Antonio, TX, would choose one of the many mezcal variants from Rey Campero and Del Maguey. “As for tequila, Fortaleza is beautiful and hits most of the required notes,” he says. “Casa San Matías and Azunia are also great options.”
“If I could only stock three tequilas/mezcals, I would choose: Maestro Dobel Diamante, Siete Leguas Reposado and Maximo mezcal,” says Ryan Andrews, beverage director for San Diego-based GBOD Hospitality Group. Lauli Cusimano, the tequila/mezcal curator at Death by Tequila in Encinitas, CA, would choose Siete Leguas, Fortaleza and Cascahuin for tequila, and for mezcal, Nuestra Soledad Jabali, Don Mateo Cupreata and Mezcal Vago Tobalá.
Jennifer Mathieu, assistant general manager at Lona Cocina y Tequileria in Fort Lauderdale, FL, is a big fan of the Don Julio family. “I would squeeze in some tequilas people might not be familiar with, such as Volcan’s blanco and cristalino and throw in a tiny producer like Cabeza.”
At The Patterson House in Nashville, bar manager Harrison Peaks needs three of each spirit. “Los Altos Platos tequila is a base in a lot of our classics. And then the El Luchador; it’s 100-proof so it’s hot, but it’s a really cool expression in tequila—definitely fruitier. And then higher-end, the La Casa Azul,” says Peaks.
As for mezcal, Peaks would select Del Maguey Vida (for a standard extra-smoked flavor), Monte Alban for a lighter smoke but more earthy flavor, and then Del Maguey San Luis Del Rio, “which is smooth with slight smoky notes alongside a delicate floral sweetness,” he notes.
Fortaleza Blanco, Tequila Ocho Repo, Del Maguey Chichicapas are the choices from Christopher Longoria, bar director at Che Fico in San Francisco.
Melissa Beaugrand, food and beverage manager at JW Marriott Chicago, would go with Ocho Reyes, Del Maguey Vida mezcal and Don Julio 1942 are the selections from.
Kevin Zadoyan, co-owner of the two Te’Kila restaurants in Los Angeles, makes some esoteric choices: Pasote Blanco tequila, G4 Anejo tequila and Mayalen Borrego Lamb Pechuga mezcal. The last item is distilled with nuts, fruits, spices and a freshly butchered leg of lamb.