Culture

Here Are Some Of The Tequila Brands Keeping The Beloved Art Of Creating The Liquor Alive And Well

Tequila is perhaps the most iconic drink from Mexico (although mezcal has been making a BIG comeback for a few years now, particularly as part of urban hipster cultures). We recently reported how tech mogul Elon Musk is trying to get his controversial Teslaquila off the ground, and how Breaking Bad actors Bryan Craston and Aaron Paul are considering having their own label. That is all good if they bring money and jobs to the area of Tequila, Jalisco, where the ancient spirit is produced under Denomination of Origin. 

In the meantime, here are a few Mexican-owned tequila brands, some of which are the usual suspects (1800, Corralejo) while others are smaller but exciting brands. 

Sotol Hacienda de Chihuahua (just like tequila, but a bit different)
https://www.vinomex.com.mx/

Credit: sher_castroc/ Instagram

This tequila is housed in a legendary hacienda, as the company, Sotol, states: “The Hacienda Tabalaopa, a family jewel since it’s establishment in 1881, has historically embraced Sotol as the spirit of the region”. This premium spirit, Sotol, is a bit different to tequila as it is elaborated with a wild agavacea variety termed Dasylirion which only grows in the Chihuahuan Desert of northern Mexico. This is an example of how the industry is diversifying, encompassing other regions of Mexico.

Tequila Moderno
https://tequilamoderno.com

Credit: brandsofmexico / Instagram

This beautiful bottle contains a premium tequila developed by a young Mexican entrepreneur. This relatively new brand is socially conscious and has programs to support agave growers in Jalisco. They source their agave azul from small growers, supporting the local farming industry. It has gotten some good reviews and is bound to become a staple of hipster bars worldwide. 

Tequila San Matias
https://www.sanmatias.com/us/products/

Credit: snmatiascristal / Instagram

This casa tequilera is as traditional as it comes: it has been operating since 1886 when it was founded by Don Delfino González. However, its owners have taken good care of the brand’s image, using a contemporary brand design that looks great on any bar shelf. Their crown jewel is the San Matias Cristal, which is clear and pure, distilling the floral notes to the nose and the palette that pure blue agave brings. It is the new face of an old distillery, so it brings together the new and the classic in interesting ways. 

Tequila Pueblo Viejo
https://www.tequilapuebloviejo.com/us/home.html

Credit: puebloviejomx / Instagram

One of the most traditional brands around (we can totally picture Jorge Negrete or Pedro Infante drinking straight from the bottle while delivering a serenata). This tequila is also the brainchild of Don Delfino González, who during the period that preceded the Mexican Revolution found the perfect conditions for growing agave azul and producing tequila in the Los Altos region of Jalisco. The red soil fields here are rich in iron and other minerals, which provides the perfect nourishment for the agave plants. 

Tequila La Malinche
http://tequilalamalinche.com/intro_eng/

Credit: tequilamalinche / Instagram

This tequila is manufactured by Tequilas del Señor, a house that has more than seven decades of expertise. It is named after the indigenous woman, La Malinche, that according to the legend served as a translator for the conquistadores. For those who enjoy a clear taste, La Malinche is a good option. To the nose, it provides intense notes of baked agave with hints of mint and citrus. It is silky in the mouth with pleasant herbal notes and lovely acidity. It is great to drink by itself… perhaps after a few carnitas tacos. 

Tequila Espinoza
http://tequilaespinoza.com/?lang=en

Credit: mecomunicacion / Instagram

Just look at this bottle! It would be envied by the most delicate whiskeys on the planet. The reposado (which basically means “rested”, as it has matured in oak barrels for years) variety has a smokey and deep flavor. This house is owned by Armando Orozco Espinoza, a young tequila master that comes from a long tradition of experts. The mantra of this house: ” passion, tradition, braveness, attitude, maturity, and youth.” Bound to become one of the classics. 

Tequila Don Sueños
http://donsuenos.com/

Credit: doncheposboca / Instagram

These tequilas fall in the super-premium category, so they are bound to be a bit pricey (so please don’t make cheap margaritas with it… go a bit more sophisticated and put together a fancy cocktail). This relatively new brand was years in the making: they hired a tequila master to spot the perfect agave plants to create a distinctive flavor. The family that runs this business has been growing agave for more than four decades. The fields and factory are located in the “Golden Triangle” region in Los Altos (Highlands) of Jalisco. 

Tequila 29 Two Nine
http://www.tequila29.com

Credit: theblogmx / Instagram

A young brand that has gotten some traction in the European market. The reposado variety is a delight: deep, peppery flavors thanks to the eight months it spends in oak barrels. Tequila 29 Two Nine is owned by a family who, according to company communications, wants to disrupt the game.

Tequila Corralejo
https://tequilacorralejo.mx/en

Credit: tequilacorralejo / Instagram

One of the most widely sold tequilas, both in Mexico and overseas. It is manufactured in the Hacienda Corralejo in Guanajuato, which as become a tourist attraction in its own right. As stated by the company, “visitors can satisfy their curiosity and excitement about the processes used to make tequila. The atmosphere is a delight to both sight and smell, as exemplified by casks for aging tequila located in beautiful cellars and filled with a suggestive and captivating aroma that evokes the honey of cooked agave”. Sounds like a perfect holiday to us! 


Tequila El Jefe
https://www.eljefetequila.com/

Credit: eljefetequila / Instagram

This is a luxury craft tequila owned by Mexican-Americans but manufactured the distiller Tequilera Las Juntas in Jalisco. It is made from 100 percent Blue Weber Agave grown in the region of Tequila. It has won multiple international awards. 

Tequila Tromba
http://tequilatromba.com

Credit: tequilatromba / Instagram

A young, hip brand whose slogan is #takelifebystorm. It was created by Marco, a master distiller with over 40 years of experience. He says: “I’m really proud of what I’ve done throughout my career at some of the best brands, but there are always limitations when you work for someone else. Tromba represents everything I think great tequila can be.” Marco is joined by Rodrigo Cedano, a young apprentice who really strives to create a tequila that distinguishes itself from the dozens of options in the market. Guess where the name comes from? “Tromba gets its name from the intense rainstorms of the Jalisco highlands that nourish its famed agave plants. It also represents energy and rejuvenation that fuels the passion and purpose of its founders”. 


Tequila Cazcabel

Credit: cazcabeltequila / Instagram

It takes its name from the famous poisonous rattlesnake. This brand specializes in blends that infuse tequila with flavors such as honey and coffee. It is created in the town of Arandas, in the Jalisco highlands. This brand makes sure that the agave plants are used in a sustainable way, and use every part of the plant in the production process. They have some pretty good ideas for cocktails: http://cazcabel.com/the-drinks/.

READ: Elon Musk’s ‘Teslaquila’ Drink Faces Legal Trouble From Mexican Tequila Industry

Mexican YouTuber Eats Habanero Chillies And Ends Up In Hospital, Do Not Try At Home!

Entertainment

Mexican YouTuber Eats Habanero Chillies And Ends Up In Hospital, Do Not Try At Home!

Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

Oh my, what some people are willing to do for a few thousand views! YouTuber and influencer culture has become an incredibly competitive field and only the most outrageous manage to stand out among literally thousands of individuals who offer a look into their lives and fight to get at least 15 minutes of fame. We have seen it all, from the early days of the Internet and fake identities being created, to the case of a woman in Australia who faked cancer recovery to become a wellness and health celebrity.

But a recent case in Mexico became much talked-about for all the wrong reasons… introducing the case of the man who ended up in hospital for eating two habanero chillies, one of the most picosa varieties that you can find.

Los Hermanos Lara are a comedic duo out of Yucatan, and Hugo went far beyond duty and faced one of his biggest fears… 

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

Hugo stated that he doesn’t eat chili, but was dared to eat two habaneros at once. He said yes, but said he would have one after the other. The rest of the crew said absolutely not…  And then all spicy hell broke loose!

Hugo put both chilies in his mouth at once… and started chewing 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

We just cannot stress this enough: please do not try at home. If you suspect you won’t be able to handle the heat (quite literally), please just don’t! Besides risking a respiratory shock due to the sudden attack on your throat lining, your stomach can also suffer greatly, as the oils from some chili species can damage the inner layer of your gut. You will regret it. Do not succumb to peer pressure, repeat, do not succumb to peer pressure. 

Look at this face: it is a face of a guy who is about to experience real hell on Earth… 

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

Wait for it, wait for it… 

Wow! His tongue and lips and throat are exploding in a thousand sparks of flavor and pain!

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

Someone please call the firemen! This poor man just had a complete shock to his system and as funny as it might be it is actually pretty darn dangerous. Lara immediately turned red due to a sudden rush of blood to his face, and started to cough as the chili oils were being released, acting as an irritant in his mouth and upper respiratory tract. 

Then things started to get really, really bad…

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

Hugo was overcome by an uncontrollable coughing fit after he spit the habaneros. His companions started to get real worried and Hugo could just not stop coughing… 

An ambulance was called! 

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

They gave him water, panicked… things went from laughter to chaos in a few seconds, which reminds us that in life unexpected turns are always there waiting for us. 

Hugo is fine now, thanks for asking, but the incident was like straight out of a telenovela (but also a reminder to not do silly things that can put us in danger.)

Credit: Los Hermanos Lara Oficial / YouTube

The other half of the Lara duo released an announcement on social media, stating that Hugo was fine and that they decided to release the video so rumors didn’t get too out of control: “Hugo Lara is in stable condition. We didn’t think that this would get so out of control, and we will show you the video we recorded, so that you can see what really happened…”

You can watch the incident here. We are glad that Hugo is fine, but it could have ended very, very badly for him. Sometimes people have allergic reactions that they are unaware of, so that coughing fit could have signaled a much more serious issue.

So what are habaneros anyway and why are they so damn hot (and delicious)?

Credit: Bonnie Plants

Habaneros are a staple of yucateca food, and one of the most profitable crops in the state. The habanero chili comes originally from the Amazon, but its popularity spread up, reaching Mexico. Its scientific name is Capsicum chinense Habanero Group and it is considered one of the hottest chilies in the world. Like other chilies, habaneros contain a substance called capsaicin that stimulates areas of the skin and tongue that are sensitive to heat and pain.

And when you say that a chili is burning your tongue you are onto something: capsaicin tricks the brain into thinking that the body’s surface is actually on fire, so the fright and flight response is well justified! Trivia fact: chili species developed their heat to stop fungus from developing on them and killing them. Damn, nature can be pretty smart, much smarter than us mortal humans. 

People Are Celebrating Mexico’s Planned Bill To Fine Companies That Copy Indigenous Designs

Culture

People Are Celebrating Mexico’s Planned Bill To Fine Companies That Copy Indigenous Designs

MasdeMx.com

Much has been said and written about the material pillaging that indigenous communities in what is now the Americas have been subject to since Christopher Columbus “discovered” the continent. Mineral resources, agricultural knowledge and dignity: they were all taken in the name of “civilization”. These processes of abuse towards the original owners of a land that was never willingly ceded have continued well into today. 

Some goods are immaterial, which means that more than objects or places, they are cultural goods such as knowledge, practices and methods of doing things.

Credit: secadero_uno / Instagram

 Such an immaterial good are the designs that indigenous communities imprint on clothes, pottery and art. However, because there is no single author for these, creations are nor protected under intellectual property, which is how companies and designers take advantage and basically steal designs. These are not homages, but direct acts of plagiarism! 

But there have been people that have been profiting from traditional designs

Credit: Mexico News Daily

Zara, the massive Spanish retailer, has been accused of stealing designs both from indigenous communities and from independent designers. Indigenous groups from the Mexican state of Chiapas, for example, have said that the copycat designs affect their livelihood because potential customers, including tourists, can just go to the shops and get them.

As reported by Mexico Daily News, there is a discrepancy in the hours of labor that indigenous artisans invest in each garment and what they get paid, compared to the profit made by brands like Zara. as artisans “dedicate more than 50 hours to making each embroidered garment, selling them for 200 pesos (US $10). In contrast, Zara manufactures the same garment and sells it at 599 pesos ($32.)”

And let’s not forget that Zara and other international companies have been found to use abusive and exploitative production methods in other countries such as Bangladesh. Consumers are also to blame, as a representative for the advocacy group Impacto told Mexico Daily News: “There’s also a contradiction, because they pay high prices at a store but then don’t want to spend in an indigenous community.”

So if you visit Mexico or another developing country and you want to take the price down, regatear as they say in Spanish, when buying from a local artisan, well, then shame on you! 

And if we think a bit further, international brands like Zara sometimes profit from a global network of abuse and injustice.

Let’s not forget that six years ago a fatal collapse in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza building, where brands such as H&M and Zara outsourced clothes manufacturing, caused deaths and revealed the industry malpractices that do not guarantee workers’ safety. Since then international brands have looked into their production processes, but problems remain. Needless to say, what Global South workers get is a minuscule amount compared to what US or Spanish workers would demand, so the profit on each piece is huge. All in the name of money, right? So the chain of mistreatment sometimes start with stealing designs and continues with paying super low wages to people that cannot afford not to be employed, even if it is under very precarious conditions. 

So the motion that is being considered in the Mexican Senate makes a ton of sense.

Credit: masdemx.com

The Mexican Senate is considering imposing a hefty fine to those who copy indigenous designs, which are de facto intellectual and cultural property that can make money, so there is a monetary value attached to them.

As reported by Mexico Daily News, “The proposal being discussed by the Senate culture commission would penalize the theft of indigenous cultural elements with fines up to 4.2 million pesos (US $218,000.)”

The proposal includes a legal framework through which indigenous communities can denounce cases in which they feel like their creative and cultural property has been stolen. The Senate’s cultural commission has focused on indigenous affairs since MORENA, the incumbent president’s party, got into power earlier this year. For all its controversial decisions, the current government has in fact done more to protect indigenous communities than previous administrations.

In some cases the copycat models are blatantly direct: such is the case of a chinanteco design copied by the brand Intropia and sold in over 170 euros. Other brands that have appropriated designs from indigenous communities from Chiapas, Oaxaca and other states such as Hidalgo are  Carolina Herrera, Dior, Isabel Marant, Nestlé, Madewell, Mango and Desigual. The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has found at least 39 cases of this type of theft. If the proposal goes through, a database of designs of indigenous and Afro-Mexican designs will be created.