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Update Your Margs with Mezcal and Sotol

Update Your Margaritas with Mezcal, Sotol, and More!

by David Klemt

Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal bottle on a drinks tray

We all know how to make a classic Margarita, so for this National Margarita Day we want to put some new recipes and ingredients on your radar.

The cocktail recipes below swap out the tequila for mezcal and sotol.

For a quick refresher, all tequila is mezcal in a technical sense. Mezcal is made with agave plants. Tequila producers use a specific agave plant, Blue Weber. Further, tequila must be produced in one of five Mexican states: Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, or Tamaulipas.

Then we have sotol. You may have seen sotol thrown in with agave spirits on cocktail or spirits roundups. To clarify, however, sotol is a typo of shrub known as the desert spoon, and it’s not an agave plant.

So, all tequila is mezcal, mezcal is agave, and sotol is…sotol.

Swap Out the Tequila

Being National Margarita Day, you certainly need to have a classic Margarita on your menu. It’s all the better if your bar team makes them so well and so consistently that really, your top-selling Marg is one of your signature cocktails.

That said, it’s also a good idea to play with classics to give your guests new drinks to discover. The two recipes below are two great examples of riffs on the classic Margarita that should get your and your bar team’s creative wheels turning.

Allow me to introduce you to Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal and Nocheluna Sotol, if you’re not already acquainted.

Contraluz lays claim to the title of “world’s first cristalino mezcal.” Made from 100 percent espad铆n agave, this is a crystal-clear, small-batch reposado mezcal. On the nose, expect aromas of agave, along with citrus and floral notes. You may also detect smoke, cedar, and honey. In terms of flavor, Contraluz delivers notes of vanilla, clove, cacao, and cooked agave, with a sweet, long finish.

The second cocktail below is made with Nocheluna Sotol, which is crafted using 100-percent wild sotol from Chihuahuan desert. This particular sotol is the result of a collaboration between a fourth-generation master vintner, and a master distiller.

A unique spirit, Nocheluna delivers a delicate balance of sweet, herbal, dried fruit, and mineral notes. These notes come through via both the aroma and taste, although you may detect oak and smoke as well. Interestingly, Nocheluna says the finish may include a taste of pecan wood, along with wet earth.


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A post shared by Nocheluna Sotol (@nochelunasotol)

But Wait, There’s More!

Along with Contraluz and Nocheluna, you’ll see three bottles that may be new to you below. The Light and Soul cocktail calls for Alma Finca Orange Liqueur, Nixta Licor de Elote, and HAGAVE Spiced Nectar.

The first is an orange liqueur produced by the same company that makes Montelobos Mezcal. The second liqueur, Nixta Elote, is essentially liquid elote seasoning, and it comes in a fantastic corn-shaped bottle. Finally, HAGAVE is exactly what it says on the label: a premium, spiced agave mixer.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely plan to get my hands on each of these bottles. Just imagine what you can do to engage with your guests by introducing them to a crystal-clear, artisanal mezcal, an expertly crafted sotol, and liquid elote in a corn bottle.


Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal, Light and Soul cocktail

Light and Soul

  • 2.0 oz. Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal
  • 0.5 oz. Alma Finca Orange Liqueur (or a triple sec or different orange liqueur if unavailable)
  • 0.5 oz. Nixta Licor de Elote
  • 1 oz. Lime cordial
  • 0.5 oz. HAGAVE Spiced Nectar

Place a large ice cube or sphere in a rocks glass. Add all liquid ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, and strain into the prepared rocks glass. Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel.

Nocheluna Sotol cocktail, the Sotolita


  • 1.5 oz. Nocheluna Sotol
  • 1.0 oz. Triple sec
  • 1.0 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 oz. Apple juice
  • Apple slices to garnish
  • Chiltepin salt for rim (sea salt blend with chiltepin peppers)

Prepare a rocks glass by adding quality ice and rimming it with chiltepin salt. Add ice to a shaker, then add all liquid ingredients. Shake well, then strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with an apple-slice fan.

Images provided by LaFORCE

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WSWA Access LIVE 2024: Product Roundup

A Few of Our Favorite WSWA Access LIVE Things

by David Klemt

Sepulto Mezcal bottle

We attended WSWA’s Access LIVE 2024 event in Las Vegas, Nevada, and found quite a few products we think will pique the interest of restaurant and bar operators.

Agave spirits, perhaps unsurprisingly, seemed to dominate the floor. In particular, tequila was very well represented.

However, we also found notable vodkas, gins, whiskeys, sake, liqueurs, zero-proof beverages, and more. Below, several portfolios and items that really stood out to us.



Deluxe Distillery

This distillery, operating out of Belgium, has some of the most striking packaging I’ve seen in a while. I’m confident in saying that guests scanning a back bar would find Deluxe Distillery‘s bottles intriguing.

More importantly, of course, the liquid is just as outstanding. Deluxe produces three gins under the Blind Tiger label: Piper Cubeba, Imperial Secrets, and barrel-aged Liquid Gold. Their vodka, Mary White, pays homage to a famous bootlegger. And then there’s Yusibi, a honey-based aperitif in a unique bottle.

However, it’s Deluxe’s S奴p膩saw膩 that really grabbed my attention at Access LIVE. This product, available in 30 states in the US already, makes batching not just a breeze but a more budget-friendly proposition. Cost per bottle should run around $9. The prebatched cocktail Deluxe Distillery was serving at their booth took less than five minutes to make.

As far as entire portfolios, Deluxe stood out the most to me.


Inspiro Tequila

This is clean tequila brand needs to be on your radar. There are currently two Inspiro Tequila expressions, Luna Blanco and Rosa Reposado. Both premium tequilas can be enjoyed neat, and Rosa is rested in ros茅 wine barrels sourced from France.

Inspiro is woman-owned, confirmed additive-free, certified Kosher, gluten-free, sugar-free, and zero carb. Oh, and the bottles are eye-catching.

Sepulto Mezcal Artesanal

This artisanal mezcal launched at this year’s Access Live event. And yes, this is another case of the bottle catching my eye and drawing me in.

Sepulto is aged for one year in glass, underground. As a result of the distiller’s cooking process, the complex notes of espad铆n, sahuayo, and papalote agaves come through with each sip. This is definitely a mezcal you’ll want to add to your super-premium agave spirits. In fact, it will be right at home on your back bar and menu next to your Don Julio 1942.


Tenjaku Japanese Vodka

Don’t let the clean label fool you: Tenjaku is as fun a brand as it is a premium vodka. Click here to check out their packaging, which drives home my point.

Speaking of premium quality, Tenjaku Vodka is made from Yamada Nishiki rice, which is also used to make some of the best sake in the world. Further, the liquid is filtered not just through birch charcoal but also bamboo charcoal. The result is a vodka that tastes fresh and is delicate on the palate.

Herbesco Pepper Vodka

Looking for a great vodka that can serve as a spicy base for Bloody Marys and other hot cocktails straight from the bottle?

Herbesco Pepper Vodka is made with jalape帽o, japones, chile de 谩rbol, and bell pepper. Along with heat, expect herbal, fruity, and even chocolatey notes.


The Illusionist Dry Gin

Those familiar with Empress are familiar with what gives the gin its hue and color-shifting capability: butterfly pea flower. That botanical is also present in The Illusionist, which comes in a stylish, black Art Nouveau bottle.

Certified organic, The Illusionist delivers more than just visual impact. On the nose, licorice and citrus. Those notes are also present on the palate, along with fruity and floral flavors.


Yame Whisky

This Japanese whisky was introduced to me by Wine of Japan, an incredible portfolio of ultra-premium sake, beer, and spirits. Anyone who wants to add the highest quality sake from Japan need look no further. (In fact, I’ve been looking for a specific sake for over a decade. The VP or Wine of Japan knew exactly what I was talking about and had a sample at the booth. Amazing.)

Two expressions were available to try at Access LIVE, the 10 Year and 15 Year. The 10 Year features a 100-percent barley mashbill and is very easy to drink, delivering notes of vanilla and citrus. Think an easy-sipping bourbon. I found the 15 Year to a bit more complex, delivering dried fruit and grain on the palate. However, I had also sampled quite a few sake before trying this whisky.

In other words, you’re going to have to reach out to Wine of Japan and get tasted on both Yame expressions.

Tenjaku Whisky

There are two Tenjaku Whisky expressions currently: Blended and Pure Malt.

The former is sweet on the nose, with a touch of smoke. On the palate, Tenjaku Blended delivers grain, dried fruit, and a bit of spice.

The latter, Pure Malt, has nutty aroma with herbal notes. Expect wood and vanilla on the palate.


Wheyward Spirit

I could include woman-owned, operated, and distilled Wheyward in the whiskey category, but it’s too unique for that. The two available expressions are produced by upcycling whey.

Wheyward Spirit, the original expression, can stand in for vodka, gin, rum, sake, and even blanco tequila. The brand itself explains this innovative spirit quite succinctly: “Wheyward Spirit is one of a kind and was designed to take the best elements of vodka, sake, gin, and rum to be both a versatile and sippable clear spirit.”

There’s also Wheyward Spirit Wheyskey. Now that you’re familiar with the original, you can probably guess that this is a whey-based alternative to whiskey. This expression is barrel-aged Wheyward Spirit, and, like the original, is additive-, grain-, gluten-, and lactose-free. When I tasted Wheyskey, it most closely resembled a rye whiskey to me.


De Soi

“Savor the flavor, lose the booze, put the ‘fun’ in ‘functionality,’ and embrace the pleasure of restraint,” says non-alcohol brand De Soi.

This range of zero-proof ap茅ritifs is loaded with interesting flavors, such as sparkling Tr猫s Ros茅, citrusy and herbaceous Golden Hour, and jammy and bitter Champignon Dreams.

Operators looking to add sophisticated and unique non-alcohol beverage options should definitely look into De Soi.

Sparkling Wine

Rozoy Picot

If the production of this French sparkling wine didn’t involve a unique twist, I’m told Rozoy Picot would legally be Champagne.

However, these sparkling wines are blended with terpenes, the aromatic elements of cannabis. (Remember, terpenes don’t contain psychoactive elements, so this product doesn’t get you high.)

There’s a white varietal, Rozoy Picot OG Kush, and a red, Punch Ros茅. I can only say that these must be smelled and tasted to be understood fully. Additionally, I can see these performing well at nightclubs as a unique bottle service option.

Image provided by author.

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Canadians Preparing for NHL Opening Week

Canadians Preparing for NHL Opening Week

by David Klemt

Vintage tabletop hockey game toy

Now nobody can accuse me of showing any NHL teams favoritism. Go Knights Go!

As one should expect, Canadian hockey fans are preparing for the 2023-2024 NHL season opener, and those preparations include on-premise visits.

On Tuesday, October 10, three teams will face off to start the regular season.

First, the Nashville Predators take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then, the Chicago Blackhawks will face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Finally, after raising their brand-new, first-ever Stanley Cup championship banner, which they won just six seasons after their founding, the fastest an expansion team has accomplished this feat, the Vegas Golden Knights will welcome the Seattle Kraken to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

According to on-premise data from CGA by NIQ, Canadian hockey fans are planning to celebrate the start of the season at bars and restaurants. That means operators have less than two weeks to finalize plans to attract these guests to their venues.

In particular, operators in four provinces need to ensure their NHL opening week plans and promotions are good to go. Per CGA’s data, consumers in Qu茅bec are showing the greatest interest in watching this season’s opening games in bars and restaurants. Following and driving on-premise interest are British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta.

Of course, operators throughout the provinces who serve sports fans should be ready to welcome hockey fans.

For our Canadian readers, the Montr茅al Candiens will take on Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, October 11. On that same day, the Ottawa Senators face the Carolina Hurricanes; the Edmonton Oilers face off against the Vancouver Canucks; and the Winnipeg Jets will battle the Calgary Flames.

Click here for the full opening week schedule.

Why Does this Matter?

I may catch some flack for this but technically, any bar with televisions events can be a sports bar.

Yes, I understand that’s a very simplistic view. And yes, of course that comes with the caveat that sports should be authentic to a given concept. Also, showing sports should take into account the expectations of bar or restaurant’s guests.

In other words, most bars and restaurants can benefit from sports but they’d likely be a hindrance to some high-end cocktail bars and fine-dining concepts.

With that out of the way, operators who want to establish themselves as the go-to spot for sporting events need to nail opening week. That means having all of their ducks in a row.

Do they have the proper business TV packages in place? Will promotions and programming appeal to the target audience? Are the screens and audio system high quality for the best viewing experience? Does the menu offer sports fans what they want for great value? Is the team pulling out all the spots to make viewing fun?

Regarding the menu, CGA by NIQ has a couple of valuable insights. First, beer is the top beverage alcohol category among those planning to celebrate NHL opening week on-premise. Second, among those who plan to consume spirits, tequila is the top pick. Sounds like offering beer and tequila shot pairings could perform well.

However, operators should certainly take into account their own data. What F&B items are selling the best? Which items performed the best this same time last year?

Between 15 and 16 million Canadians follow hockey. That’s a vast pool of potential customers to convert to loyal guests. The importance of becoming their sports home base, their third spot, cannot be overstated.

This coming opening week, lay the groundwork to become the go-to place for hockey fans, fantasy sports competitors, and sports bettors.

Image: cottonbro studio via Pexels

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Celebrate 75 Years of the Margarita

Celebrate 75 Years of the Margarita

by David Klemt

Classic Cointreau Margarita in landscape orientation

Cointreau is inviting you and your guests to celebrate the 75th anniversary of one of the most iconic cocktails on the planet: the Margarita.

That’s not hyperbole, by the way. While the cocktail is famously number one in the US, it’s also the top tipple in a number of other countries.

Focusing on the US, the Margarita certainly sees challenges to the cocktail throne. The Manhattan, Moscow Mule, and Martini have all taken shots at wearing the crown. In fact, the Martini is, as of 2022, sitting in the number two position.

So, there’s an excellent chance that right now, none of what I’ve written underneath the first sentence has registered with a certain type of reader. Declaring that 2023 is the 75th anniversary of the Margarita may have some people apoplectic right now.

Why’s that? Well, it’s because I’m implying that the origin of the Margarita is settled history. This is something that I love about cocktails: the origin stories of the classic cocktails. With few exceptions and modern cocktails, most cocktail origins are shrouded in mystery. Personally, I enjoy the fact that a single drink can give us so many stories and so much to argue about.

Cointreau believes the Margarita can be traced back to Acapulco. The story goes that Margarita Sames, a Dallas socialite, either requested a signature cocktail or created one herself for a party at her vacation home in Mexico. It’s said that her favorite spirits were tequila and Cointreau. As legend has it, Tommy Hilton was partaking in the festivities in Acapulco and enjoyed the cocktail. He added it to the menus at Hilton properties and there you have it鈥攖he Margarita started its journey toward securing the cocktail throne.

75 Years

We celebrate the Margarita on February 22 each year. However, the opportunity to showcase your Margarita(s) doesn’t end there.

One of these opportunities is coming up: Cinco de Mayo. This year, May 5 falls on a Friday. That gives you an entire weekend (or week leading up to the weekend of May 5) to feature an LTO menu of Margaritas.

Celebrating the Margarita also gives you and your teams the chance to upsell guests via premium, super-premium, and ultra-premium tequila options.

However, you and your guests can start celebrating this classic today via the Cointreau Margarita Pledge. Simply point guests who order a Margarita made with Cointreau to this website and they’ll have the chance to win a portion of $75,000. Each winner will be awarded $20 by Cointreau to help them celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a Margarita.

Of course, your front-of-house team should also encourage guests to snap a photo of their Margaritas and tag your restaurant or bar (and Cointreau) when posting to social media.

Below, you’ll find three Margarita recipes from Cointreau, along with an alcohol-free recipe. Cheers!

The Original Margarita by Cointreau

The Original Margarita

  • 1 oz. Cointreau聽
  • 2 oz. Blanco tequila聽
  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice聽
  • Lime wheel to garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and add ice. Shake and strain into a salt-rimmed rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

The Spicy Margarita by Cointreau

The Spicy Margarita

  • 2 oz. Blanco tequila聽
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 0.75 oz. Fresh lime juice聽
  • 2 Slices of jalape帽o聽
  • 2 Sprigs of fresh cilantro聽
  • Jalape帽o to garnish
  • Lime wheel to garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with jalape帽o pepper. Garnish with a lime wheel.

The Frozen Margarita by Cointreau

The Frozen Margarita

  • 1 oz. Cointreau聽
  • 2 oz. Blanco tequila聽
  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice聽
  • 0.25 oz. Simple syrup聽
  • Lime wheel to garnish

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend to combine. Pour into salt-rimmed Margarita glass. Garnish with lime wheel.

Lyre's non-alcoholic tequila alternatives

Alcohol-free Classic Margarita

There are a couple non-alcohol brands that make adding a zero-proof Margarita to your menu simple. One such brand is Lyre’s, the Australian brand projected to one day be worth one billion dollars.

Not only does Lyre’s produce two tequila alternatives, they also make an alcohol-free triple sec. So, it really doesn’t get any easier to offer a premium non-alcohol Margarita that can justify a premium price.

An important note: Lyre’s is not an affiliate or portfolio-mate of Cointreau. I’m mentioning them here so that guests who aren’t consuming alcohol for any reason can still partake in celebrating the Margarita.

Shake briefly with ice. Fine strain into glass. Half salt-rimmed cocktail coupette. Garnish with lime wedge.

Cointreau images courtesy of Cointreau. Alcohol-free Classic Margarita image: Lyre’s.

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Rosa is Pink, Lowlands Agave is Blue

Rosa is Pink, Lowlands Agave is Blue…

by David Klemt

C贸digo 1530 Rosa Tequila and cocktail

C贸digo 1530 is proud to present Valentine’s Day cocktails from Travis Pentecost of Tu Madre and Abby Blanchard of Broken Shaker.

Even more relevant for Valentine’s Day, each of the tequila-forward four recipes below is made with C贸digo 1530 Rosa Blanco. As you can tell from the bottle image above, Rosa Blanco is a ros茅 tequila.

This particular tequila’s characteristic comes from the aging process. As the name implies, Rosa begins life as a blanco. But after one month in uncharred Napa Valley Cabernet French White Oak wine barrels, the liquid takes on a pink hue.

Produced using lowlands Blue Weber Agave, C贸digo 1530 is precise about Rosa Blanco’s aging time. Too short and the barrels wouldn’t influence the tequila. Longer than one month and the wine barrel flavors would overpower the agave.

C贸digo 1530’s exacting production and aging techniques result in their signature blanco delivering soft red wine notes on the palate, and a subtly floral finish. Rosa’s aging process enhances Blanco’s rich and bright earthy, mineral, and citrus notes.

If you have guests who are tequila fans鈥攑articularly those who love blanco鈥擱osa Blanco is a great conversation starter and upsale.

Codigo 1530 Kisses and Roses cocktail

Kisses and Roses

recipe by Travis Pentecost (Tu Madre)

  • 1.5 oz. C贸digo 1530 Rosa Blanco Tequila
  • 0.5 oz. Chinola
  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 0.75 oz. Orgeat
  • 2 dashes Plum bitters
  • Lemon slice to garnish
  • Edible flower to garnish

Add all ingredients to a shaker and strain into a Collins glass. Garnish with lemon slice and edible flower.

Codigo 1530 Will You Cherry Me cocktail

Will You Cherry Me

recipe by Travis Pentecost (Tu Madre)

  • 1.5 oz. C贸digo 1530 Rosa Blanco Tequila
  • 0.5 oz. St-Germain
  • 1 oz. Prickly Pear liqueur
  • 1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dashes Cherry bitters
  • Fresh mint leaves to garnish
  • Lemon slice to garnish
  • Edible flower to garnish

Add all ingredients to a shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh mint leaf “bouquet,” lemon slice, and edible flower.

Codigo 1530 Sandia Margarita cocktail

Sandia Margarita

recipe by Travis Pentecost (Tu Madre)

  • 2 oz. C贸digo 1530 Rosa Blanco Tequila
  • 1 oz. Fresh watermelon juice
  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. Pina Agave
  • 2 dashes Peach bitters
  • Fresh mint leaves to garnish
  • Orange slice to garnish
  • Gummy watermelon candies to garnish
  • Edible flower to garnish
  • Salt for rim

Add all ingredients to a shaker and strain into a prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with “bouquet” of fresh mint leaves, orange slice, gummy watermelon candies, and edible flower.

Codigo 1530 You Up? cocktail

You Up?

recipe by Abby Blanchard (Broken Shaker)

  • 2 oz. C贸digo 1530 Rosa Blanco Tequila
  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 0.75 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 3 Raspberries, muddled
  • Raspberries to garnish
  • Raspberry gummy candy to garnish (optional)
  • Edible flower to garnish (optional)

Add all ingredients to a shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with raspberries. Optional garnishes: addition of raspberry gummy candy and/or edible flower

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Images: C贸digo 1530

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Volley or any other entity in exchange for this post.

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5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

These engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level beverage skills and motivate you throughout May, 2022.

To review April鈥檚 book recommendations, click here.

Let鈥檚 jump in!

Rum Rebels: A Celebration of Women Revolutionizing the Spirits Industry

Written by authors Martyna Halas and Ren茅 van Hoven, Rum Rebels raises a glass to women in the rum world. Readers will learn the inspiring stories of Lorena Vasquez from Zacapa, Joy Spence of Appleton, and more women driving rum forward and shaping this iconic spirit’s flavors, aromas, and textures.

In addition, this book serves as a masterclass in rum production, from tasting to aging. And since that’s enough for these incredible and ambitious authors, Rum Rebels also contains rum cocktail recipes.

Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails

Operators, bar managers, and bartenders should see value in the driving ethos behind this cocktail book. Drink Lightly, authored by Nitecap bartender Natasha David, pairs precision drink-building techniques with a relaxed drinking experience.

Drinking lightly doesn’t mean sipping drinks bereft of complexity and depth. Along with 100 recipes, readers will enjoy a foreword by Alex Day of Proprietors LLC, whose concepts include Death & Co. and Nitecap.

Call Me Chef, Dammit!: A Veteran鈥檚 Journey from the Rural South to the White House

Hospitality is rooted in sacrifice and a commitment to serving others. Chef Andre Rush and his story embody service. Call Me Chef, Dammit! is the inspiring story of Chef Rush.

The storied chef has led an incredible life which includes a career in the US Army that spanned 24 years, advocating for military personnel and veterans, and winning multiple awards as a chef. Oh, and Chef Rush and his 24-inch biceps have also worked in the White House for four US presidents.

While there are no recipes in this book, there is one hell of an inspiring story in these pages.

The New Kindred Spirits: Over 2,000 All-New Reviews of Whiskeys, Brandies, Liqueurs, Gins, Vodkas, Tequilas, Mezcal & Rums from F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal

Anyone looking for a spirits bible need search no further. F. Paul Pacult’s The New Kindred Spirits includes over 2,400 in-depth reviews spanning a wide range of spirits. This tome evaluates a massive number of brandies, gins, liqueurs, rums, tequilas, vodkas, and whiskeys.

This all-encompassing compilation of spirit evaluations doesn’t just cover the usual suspects. The New Kindred Spirits also takes a deep dive into the craft side of the beverage industry.

Drinking & Knowing Things

Author and certified sommelier Michael Amon would like to know a couple things from those considering picking up Drinking & Knowing Things. “Do you want to uncork a bottle of whoop-ass on every winedouche and uppity sommelier?” And, “are you too lazy to spend any time whatsoever learning things?”

Anyone who answered “yes” to either or both questions needs this book. Amon says that readers who commit to spending five minutes reading the weekly wine recommendations found in Drinking & Knowing Things will give sommeliers a run for their wine-knowledge money. Wine intimidation? Not after reading this book.


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C贸digo 1530 Pursuing Low-waste Initiatives

C贸digo 1530 Pursuing Low-waste Initiatives

by David Klemt

Blue Weber agave plant in Tequila, Mexico

Tequila C贸digo 1530 is making the upcycling of the agave they use a cornerstone of the brand’s sustainability efforts.

Some agave growers and tequila producers the plant as mulch, fertilizer, and biofuel. Bagasse, the fibrous material distillers separate from agave pi帽as, along with the leaves, is composted and used to fertilize agave fields.

While not common, some distillers will even take other producers’ agave bagasse and leaves to compost it.

However, C贸digo 1530 is now doing even more with their agave.

Agave Sustainability

According to some in the spirits and hospitality industries, tequila may end vodka’s dominance in the US this year. Obviously, this would be the result of an increase in consumer demand.

Well, that necessitates an increase in production. So, it follows that agave growers have motivation to grow and harvest as much mature agave as possible.

However, it takes about eight years for some agave plants to mature. Others take more than ten years. For some rarer species, maturation takes twelve years or more.

Of course, production leads to waste. In simple terms, that’s the problem producers must solve.

One definition of “sustainability” is striking an ecological balance that preserves natural resources. For tequila production in particular, this means finding ways to meet consumer demand while harvesting agave reponsibly.

While composting and mulching is a great idea, C贸digo 1530 sees the need to take things further.

More than Mulch

We’ve probably all been given at least one drink served with a paper straw. Unfortunately, that means most of us know how quickly that experience can become less than enjoyable.

Even some of the best-made paper straws can turn soggy long before a drink is finished. On the operator side, that’s not great for the guest experience, to say nothing of the costs associated with stocking paper straws.

However, some operators and their guests are willing to stick with paper straws to be sustainable. That’s admirable but there may be a better way, and it involves agave.

“We quickly realized that after harvesting agave to distill C贸digo 1530 Tequila, the remaining agave was only being used as mulch to top our soil for future plants or burned as a fuel source,” explains George Strait. “We are still using some of the excess agave fiber as mulch, and now have begun producing straws and cups in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner.”

Strait, as some may know, is an investor in C贸digo 1530. A lesser-known fact is that Strait graduated Texas State University (formerly known as Southwest Texas State University) with a degree in agriculture.

“This is a lifesaving program for sea life affected by plastic pollution,” says Strait of C贸digo 1530’s new agave sustainability efforts.

Unlike paper straws, agave straws don’t get soggy or deform. Additionally, they can be thrown out in normal trash after use as they’re biodegradable.

However, this agave initiative doesn’t end with straws. C贸digo 1530 is also making agave fiber cups, coffee cups, cocktail shakers, and shot glasses.


To celebrate Earth Day and their sustainability efforts, C贸digo 1530 has created the drink below.

Codigo 1530 low waste tequila cocktail

Image: Amir Shafii, Co虂digo 1530

  • 1.5 oz. C贸digo 1530 Blanco
  • 3 oz. Bergamot tea
  • 0.75 oz. Lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. Lavender simple syrup
  • Lavender sprig to garnish

Housemade simple cuts down on the waste associated with producing and shipping bottles of syrup. To make the lavender simple syrup, bring one cup of water and one cup of sugar to a boil. Add ten sprigs of lavender while water and sugar are boiling, let cool, then strain. For this low-waste cocktail build, add all ingredients and ice to a shaker. Shake, then strain into a Collins glass with ice. Garnish with a sprig of lavender.

Image: BRUNO EMMANUELLE on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Premium Recipes for Margarita Day

5 Premium Recipes for National Margarita Day

by David Klemt

Co虂digo 1530 Tequila Rosa Blasberry Margarita

National Margarita Day is just around the corner and our friends at C贸digo 1530 Tequila sent us five recipes for your cocktail menu.

For years, the Margarita has reigned supreme, steadily claiming the number-one spot on most-popular cocktail lists around the world. While this cocktail is now seeing its grip on the crown loosened by the Negroni and Old Fashioned, it’s hard to ignore the lure of a well-made Marg.

That’s even more true when its made with incredible tequila.

Each delicious, refreshing recipe below is made with super-premium C贸digo 1530 Blanco or Rosa. However, you and your bar team should certainly experiment with other expressions in the range.

Considering the quality of C贸digo 1530, operators can boost revenue by charging a premium for these magnificent Margs.

To learn more about C贸digo 1530 Tequila and the creator of these recipes, company mixologist Collin De Laval, check out Bar Hacks episode 57.

Co虂digo 1530 Tequila Blanco Margarita

Blanco Margarita

  • 2 oz. C贸digo 1530 Blanco Tequila
  • 1 oz. Triple sec
  • 1.5 oz. Lemon juice (freshly squeezed, preferably)
  • 0.5 oz. Agave nectar
  • Lime wedge or wheel for garnish

Prepare a rocks glass by rimming it with salt. Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, pour into the prepared rocks glass with ice, and garnish with a lime.

Co虂digo 1530 Tequila Cucumber Mint Margarita

Cucumber Mint Margarita

  • 1.5 oz. C贸digo 1530 Blanco Tequila
  • 1 oz. Cucumber juice (freshly pressed, preferably)
  • 1 oz. Lemon juice (freshly squeezed, preferably)
  • 0.25 oz. Agave nectar
  • Mint leaves, some to garnish
  • Salt and Taj铆n (50/50 mixture for rim)
  • Cucumber ribbons to garnish
  • Lemon wheel to garnish

To build, prepare a glass by rimming with lemon and rolling in salt and Taj铆n mixture and adding crushed ice. Add C贸digo 1530 Blanco, cucumber and lemon juices, agave nectar, and mint leaves to a shaker with ice. Shake, strain into prepared glass, and garnish with cucumber ribbons, lemon wheel, and mint leaves.

Co虂digo 1530 Tequila Rosa Blasberry Margarita

Rosa Blasberry Margarita

  • 2 oz. C贸digo 1530 Rosa Tequila
  • 1.5 oz. Lime juice (freshly squeezed, preferably)
  • 0.5 oz. Agave nectar
  • Handful of raspberries, some to garnish
  • Handful of blueberries, some to garnish
  • Soda water to top

Add berries and lime juice to shaker, and muddle. Next, fill shaker with ice and add C贸digo 1530 Rosa and agave nectar. Shake, strain, and garnish with berries.

Co虂digo 1530 Tequila Rosa Skinny Margarita with lavender garnish

Rosa Skinny Margarita with Lavender

  • 2 oz. C贸digo 1530 Rosa Tequila
  • 1 oz. Lime juice (freshly pressed, preferably)
  • 1 oz. Agave nectar
  • Lime wedge or wheel to garnish
  • Lavender to garnish (optional)

For this simple but refreshing Margarita, add the first three ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake, strain, and garnish with lime wedge or wheel and lavender.

Co虂digo 1530 Tequila Watermelon Mint Margarita

Watermelon Mint Margarita

  • 2 oz. C贸digo 1530 Rosa Tequila
  • 3 oz. Pressed watermelon juice (freshly pressed, preferably)
  • 0.75 oz. Lime juice (freshly squeezed, preferably)
  • 0.25 oz. Agave nectar
  • Watermelon slices to garnish

Fill a shaker with ice and add C贸digo 1530 Rosa, juices, and nectar. Shake for 30 seconds, pour into glass, and garnish with watermelon slices.

Images: C贸digo 1530 Tequila

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Yes, Some Tequilas Have Additives

Yes, Some Tequilas Have Additives

by David Klemt

A shot of tequila served with salt shaker and lime wedge

The subject of additives in tequila鈥攁nd lack of transparency on labels鈥攊sn’t new but recent social media posts are shining a light on the topic.

In particular, there are posts circulating about tequila producers using vanilla flavoring. Doing so, it turns out, is well within the Norma Oficial Mexicana (NOM) rules.

However, revealing it on labels? With some caveats, it’s also well within the rules not to mention additives.

Understandably, people want to know what they’re putting in their bodies. Increasingly, this has grown to include alcohol.

So, there are bar owners, bar managers, bartenders, and bar guests who want to avoid serving and consuming additives whenever possible. Of course, there are also guests out there who don’t care about additives in the spirits they drink.

Interestingly, though, there’s a collective of tequila distilleries committed to producing clean spirits. They have no interest in using additives.

Chris Wirth alludes to these producers on episode 66 of the Bar Hacks podcast. He and wife Camila Soriano produce world-first clean tequila seltzer Volley.

Are There Additives in Tequila?

First, let’s be clear: Several categories of spirit permit the use of additives. Labeling transparency falls under the jurisdiction of different governing bodies.

So, it’s not like the use of additives is a scandal or exclusive to tequila. And, again, some consumers and hospitality professionals care, some don’t.

Additives become a problem when producers who use additives choose language on their labels and in marketing that suggest otherwise.

You see, tequila producers aren’t required to include additives on their labels if they don’t exceed one percent of total volume. NOM permits the use of glycerin, caramel coloring, “sugar-based” syrups, and oak extract in all tequilas except blanco.

However, there appears to be a loophole in NOM rules showing the use of additives in blancos is indeed permitted.

For those who don’t want to consume tequilas that use additives, brands that claim to be additive-free in their labeling and marketing present a problem. That’s because at best they’re just following the rules, but at worst they’re using the rules to be deceptive.

Why Does this Matter?

According to some in the industry, tequila may just kick vodka off its throne this year. In America, anyway.

Undeniably, that indicates increased consumer focus on tequila. It follows that a number of restaurant, bar, and nightclub guests will come across the topic of additives.

Some will want to know which brands are additive-free. This is where this topic should matter to operators and their bar teams: Guests don’t want to hear, “I don’t know.”

Luckily, there’s a resource out there that will help: Tequila Matchmaker. Hit that link, click the “Types” tab, and select “– Additive Free” from the dropdown.

As of this writing, you’ll find 266 bottles of additive-free tequila. Some of the brands you’ll find on this page are C贸digo 1530, Tanteo, Fortaleza, El Tesoro, ArteNOM, Tears of Llorona, and Patr贸n.

Once more, this isn’t a scandal. Rather, this is an opportunity for operators to ensure they have some tequilas on their menu that are additive-free.

It’s likely the topic will come up and being prepared with a few recommendations will improve the guest experience.

Image: Francisco Galarza on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Volley RTD: Clean, Lean & Green

Volley Tequila Seltzer: Clean, Lean & Green

by David Klemt

Chris Wirth and Camila Soriano, founders of Volley Tequila Seltzer holding cans of Volley

The founders of the world’s first clean tequila RTD, Volley Tequila Seltzer, are on a mission that values transparency and giving back to the planet.

Dynamic entrepreneurial duo Chris Wirth and Camila Soriano are the guests on episode 66 of the Bar Hacks podcast.

The two share the Volley story, including what drove them to create the brand and their mission.

Transparency is Challenging

It turns out that being transparent on your labeling isn’t as easy as it sounds. When it comes to beverage alcohol in the US, there are limits on what a brand can include.

You see, alcohol labeling isn’t the FDA’s purview. Rather, it falls under the authority of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB.

A little bit of digging reveals that when the Alcohol Administration Act was passed in 1935鈥攖wo years after prohibition was repealed鈥攖he Federal Alcohol Administration was created.

This federal body replaced the Federal Alcohol Control Administration. The Federal Alcohol Administration had statutory powers and, as the name implies, had authority over the alcohol industry.

Seventy years later, the TTB was created and is the federal agency tasked with alcohol industry regulation. That means they control alcohol labeling.

So, when the FDA implemented nutrition labels, alcohol was unaffected. As far as the TTB is concerned currently, there’s no requirement for the labeling of alcohol similar to what’s required for packaged food.

But David, I bet you’re not asking, just because it’s not required doesn’t mean I couldn’t choose to include transparent nutrition labeling for my bottle of spirits or ready-to-drink canned cocktail, right?

Apparently, no鈥攖hat’s incorrect. As you’ll hear in episode 66 with Soriano and Wirth, it’s not that simple. In fact, the TTB may reject your information-laden packaging for being too transparent.

Without policy changes, there’s no incentive for alcohol producers to be more transparent鈥攁nd they may be prohibited from doing so.

Simple Changes are Impactful

All that said, Soriano and Wirth were able to introduce new packaging after just launching in 2020.

You may have seen people wipe off the tops of cans before opening and drinking from them.聽In fact, you may be one of these people. If so, great鈥攜ou know why Volley now has foil covering the tops of their cans.

As Soriano explains on the Bar Hacks podcast, the tops of canned drinks are horrifyingly unsanitary. And as far she and Wirth are aware, Volley is the only canned beverage other than San Pellegrino with foil caps (in the US, anyway).

Volley Tequila Seltzer RTD can lineup with new foil packaging

This simple packaging change carries a big impact. Likewise, it fits with the brand’s identity and mission. The brand is driven to be healthier, more thoughtful, and more transparent.

A single 12-ounce can comes in at just 100 or 110 calories, depending on expression (there are four). All Volley RTDs are gluten-free and free of added sugars. You won’t find fermented cane sugar, corn syrup, fake sugars, essences, or “natural” flavors.

In fact, there are just three ingredients in a can of Volley: 100-percent blue agave tequila, 100-percent organic fruit juices (never from concentrate), and sparkling water. And yes, Soriano and Wirth can tell you exactly who their sources are for each ingredient.

Win-Win-Win Mission

That brings us to their drive to give back and be responsible stewards of the planet. Volley is in a partnership with Leave No Trace, a non-profit committed to caring for the outdoors.

If some industry experts are proven correct, 2022 will be the year that tequila dethrones vodka as the top-selling spirit throughout North America. Not only does Volley resonate with tequila lovers, the brand is also at the forefront of other trends popular with today’s consumer: sustainability, ethical business practices, active lifestyles, transparency, and healthier options.

Add the facts that RTDs make for excellent delivery order add-ons and can be served as quickly as a beer and you’ve got a no-brainer for your restaurant, bar, hotel or resort.

We love a brand that offers upside in droves. Volley is a win for consumers, a win for operators, a winning brand, and a win for the planet.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Volley or any other entity in exchange for this post.

Image: Volley Tequila Seltzer