Racing to a Smooth Finish
High-end sipping tequilas have made quite a splash in the past half-dozen years, both on fancy restaurant menus and at dedicated tequila bars, paving the way for a new generation to experience Mexico’s premium liquor in a way that happily transcends the slushy frozen margarita machine. While famous makers like Patron have a captive audience, some ambitious new maverick distillers are breaking onto the scene with smooth agave blends worth noting, including El Grado’s premium Añejo.
Though the company was founded in Texas, El Grado’s Añejo is created in the highlands of Jalisco by master Tequilera Salvador Fonseca, who teamed up with connoisseur Ana María Romero (author of The Aromas of Tequila) to create a classic tequila with modern appeal. Accordingly, they combine 200-year old handcrafted traditions with 21st century technology to distill Blue Weber agave into a smooth, somewhat sultry tequila. The Añejo is aged for fifteen months or more in Tennessee whisky barrels, resulting in a lovely golden hue that gleams like Mexican sunshine in an elegant French-made bottle that features a glass-topped closure. Its richness makes it pleasant for sipping, and its smoky-honey finish lends the perfect note for handcrafted margaritas or artisanal cocktails.
Since debuting in 2009, this sophisticated tequila has already won a few awards, and just concluded its first season as an official partner of Dempsey Racing and drivers Joe Foster and Patrick Dempsey, competing in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
El Grado Añejo, along with its younger siblings Blanco and Reposado, is available right now in Texas, Arizona, Ohio and California; in Los Angeles you can find it retail at K&L Wines on Vine & Sunset and on the menu at Lula’s in Santa Monica. It’s ideally suited for summer’s fancy cocktails, like this pretty one, the Prickly Pear Crown Jewel.
by Martha Burr