A late night trip to the local diner had me looking at their liquor display. I noticed that there was actually the same amount of tequila being sold as vodka. Grey Goose, the longstanding staple of model/bottle tables around town, may have found that its greatest competition isn’t coming from another vodka brand, but from one of the high-end tequilas that are being promoted around town. A party I attended at Provocateur for Auténtico Tequila Alacrán had me sipping the stuff. As everyone knows, I only get drunk 2 or 3 times a year (whenever I have sex) but I made an “I’m over 21 almost 3 times over, and there’s a party for the stuff” exception.
It wasn’t like any tequila I’ve ever met before. It was clean, smooth, and had a subtle taste. I had never liked the stuff, and more importantly, it never liked me. As memory serves me, it was at a Russian-style tequila-drinking contest at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in LaLa land that I lost my wife to gentleman Joe Strummer. I do remember the swill that night came in a unflattering bottle and tasted like motor oil. I felt like a million pesos when I finally woke up, and I never asked if he collected on the wife bet, by the way. I lost fair and square, and I too am a gentleman.
The back of the menu at my favorite restaurant (which will also be opening by my home in Brooklyn) La Esquina boasts over 200 tequilas. High-end agave swill is nothing new. The question is: will it become a staple at the tables of the jet set? I caught up with my old pal, Arty Dozortsev, and asked him if tequila is the new vodka.
I know you were in the vodka business for 10 years. Why Tequila now? I jumped into the vodka trend with Kremly when Stoli and Absolute were the only market leaders. We were all trying to get a piece of that action. 10 years later, there’s an opportunity to get into the tequila industry, so I’m now with Alacrán.
What is the difference between a tequila head and a vodka head? On tequila you definitely get a buzz faster. The feeling is more fun and energetic. I think its definitely a more fun drink. People are tired of vodkas—it’s boring already. People are looking for something new and fun, and its all about trends and setting them. This is the year of tequila.
Tequila is traditionally associated with bad hangovers and wild times. What is the difference with these higher-end tequilas? The higher end tequila brands are distilled better, which costs more money to make but you don’t have that heavy head the next day.
Will the A-listers move off vodka to tequila? I think the A-list crowd is already swaying from vodka. Vodka has become so generic and unoriginal. No matter how high-end it is, the flavor seems to be pretty much the same. With this tequila especially, you can actually sip it and enjoy the flavor. You don’t need to take that shot and make that funny face anymore. How do they make the tequila so smooth? This is the only tequila using the single column distillation process. It’s the same process used in premium vodka, which is meant to adjust the amount of water you let in, and it’s how smoothness is achieved. It’s a premium 100% Weber Agave.
Where did it originate, and what is it about Alacran that separates it from the competitors? How did you get involved? The family of Ernesto Iberra Henkel and his wife, Lilian Sada, started this in their hometown of Mexico City as a personal venture among friends, just over a year ago. They were tired of the classic taste and aroma of tequila, and created an unconventional, smooth taste. They spent a lot of money on this unique distillation process, and on the sexiest packaging around. In my humble opinion, it’s best tasting tequila out there. It’s so smooth and enjoyable that it practically tastes like sake. Not only is the taste amazing, look at the bottle: it’s so sexy, I had to get on board. My family is in the importing and distribution business, and an importer approached me a few months ago with Alacran, I saw the sexy black matte bottle, then I tasted it, and I wanted to get involved instantly. I said to myself, going forward, I don’t have to force anyone to take tequila shots with me anymore.
What have you done to market it so far? We threw our party at Provocateur—the most exclusive lounge in New York City. It was crazy, and the guest list was off the charts. We had a great mix of people; Mexico City’s elite flew in just for the event, as well as NYC’s nightlife heavy hitters, entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, and young trendsetters. Donald Trump Jr. and Amanda Hearst were among some notable attendees. My marketing team, VIEvents, organized the entire event. They branded the Provocateur café top to bottom in Alacran. People were so amazed by the taste—it definitely got the party started, and no one wanted to leave! VIEvents is also marketing Sant Arturo Wine, with a series of dinner parties. The dinners are meant to bring back socializing and connecting with others on a different level, aside from the usual dark night club/drunk experience where you can’t hear each other speak over the loud music. Our last three dinners were held at Cipriani, MPD, and Casa La Femme, and they were all a huge success.
I hear the tequila is not even available yet. I understand it’s on some boat now? Well, the tequila is on its way, we are anticipating its arrival to the US any day now. Just three weeks ago we had to personally airship cases of Alacran as a special request from the rapper and producer Swizz Beatz for a birthday party he was throwing for his wife, Alicia Keys. So the buzz has begun before it hits the US market. Once product arrives, we are distributing to top restaurants and nightlife venues in New York, and we are going to kill it!
Are people calling you Turtle? When is it launching for real? You can call me Turtle. We are launching March 1st, for real!