Industry Insiders: Jaime Salas, Tequila Guru

Every day is Cinco de Mayo for tequila expert and California native Jaime Salas. We asked the Milagro tequila ambassador for tips on how to honor Cinco de Mayo like a pro, just as he was rushing out to pick up rhubarb for later on tonight (it was, of course, tequila related).

Point of Origin: I come from a big tequila family. My mom’s family is from Jalisco, and I started collecting tequila on family trips to Mexico. And then, through a friend of a friend, I got the opportunity to be a brand ambassador for Don Julio and I thought, ‘you mean I get paid to travel around and talk about tequila?’ and that’s how I got into this. I was always a fan of the whole Milagro portfolio, so I was very happy when this opportunity presented itself. This is technically my third tequila ambassadorship.

On his vast tequila collection: I started collecting tequilas years ago, and I have more than three hundred bottles. Most of them are back in California. Here in New York I’ve got about 60 bottles. Tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo I’m not sure what I’m going to open, but I will definitely be having Milagro Silver which is my favorite ‘blanco’ tequila. My sipper tequila is Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Reposado. It’s won a lot of accolades.

On the perfect margarita recipes:

Margarita Evolved 2oz Milagro Silver .75oz Milagro Agave nectar 1 oz Lime juice Served in a Rocks glass Garnished with a lime wheel El Pepino 1.5oz Milagro Reposado .75oz Bols Triple Sec 1oz lime juice .75oz simple syrup 3 slices cucumber 6 cilantro leaves .25oz eggwhites Served in a cocktail glass Garnished with a thin cucumber slice

On his busy Cinco de Mayo plans: I’m doing a pre Cinco event tonight at Los Feliz in the Lower East Side, and tomorrow evening from 6:30 – 8:30 I’m going to be at the Astor Center for the Agave Fest and the Margarita Evolved Seminar. Then I’m heading to Santos Party House for the Mex and the City Cinco de Gallo VIP Session.

On tequila faux pas: There’s no need to numb or coat the palate with quality tequila. Putting ice or water in tequila by chilling it is a don’t. Limes, lemons and salt to coat the palate might be good to take care of the burn of lesser tequilas, but not what you want to do with a flavorful, good tequila.

On the places he digs in New York: I love the Sicilian Margarita at the new NYC hotspot, Kenmare. It’s really a hybrid margarita – Milagro Silver is combined with Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur and a touch of Campari. It’s delicious. In my opinion the best non-margarita Milagro cocktail can be found at the Ace Hotel lobby bar. I love La Esquina for their Chapulines Tostadas and Milagro house margaritas. Yerba Buena, although Pan Latin with a Mexican influence, has great food and an expansive tequila collection. I always like going to Toloache for their ‘alta cocina’ approach to great Mexican food and cocktails. Mayahuel is my favorite restaurant for all things agave and small plates. It’s named for the Tara Reid Lindsay Lohan Goddess of Tequila.

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