Standing in the gorgeous sunshine in the beautiful glass-ceiling bar of Opium bar in Dublin is the very appropriate scene for the final of the Jose Cuervo Tradicional Best Margarita competition.
Nine of Ireland’s top bartenders had been shortlisted in the final to create their own variation of this classic cocktail, so-loved all around the world and so closely associated with Jose Cuervo who ran the first marketing campaign around the iconic drink in 1945.
Sun and Tequila aren’t usually immediately associated with Ireland, but given this hint of Irish summer, Irish sea salt, Irish seaweed, Irish smoked ice and many other Irish ingredients used by these finalists, one can see why Ireland has so much to offer this classic drink and vice versa.
This wonderfully high-standard competition was won by Dublin bartender Siobhán Darker from George’s Street bar, Nolita. Siobhán’s entry, Dublin Meets Mexico, is her take on the classic margarita with a Granny Smith apple syrup, jalapeño infused lime juice with saline solution and orange bitters, shaken and finestrained into a nika nora glass, garnished with a dehydrated lime wheel.
Siobhán wins an unforgettable trip to the home of Cuervo in Tequila, Mexico, where she will get to see first hand the traditional production process from field to bottling. She will get to savour a dram of Cuervo’s special Reserva de la Familia straight from the barrel, where it is finished in the private family cellar. The trip to Tequila will be the trip of a lifetime, ensuring memorable experiences, learnings and tastings to bring back to Ireland.
I spoke to Oli Pergl, Cuervo Tequila Educator, and head judge, about Jose Cuervo and tequila’s re-emergence into the Irish and global drinks scene. “Ireland has always been a very forward-thinking country in the drinks sector.” said Oli. “Irish bartenders travel widely and bring back influences from all over the world and make them their own. They are very quick to adopt new trends and adapt traditional ones. The global surge in premium white spirits which is being spear-headed by tequila is in part, thanks to Irish bartenders around the world.
“Irish bartenders are helping to educate the consumer that tequila isn’t just for shots. Jose Cuervo has 6 brands of Tequila and 26 distinct styles from aged, sipping spirits more akin to brandy or whiskey than lighter mixing spirits. Tequila is a truly unique and versatile spirit and Jose Cuervo Tradicional is a uniquely crafted spirit made by the same family to the same recipe for over 223 years. It is a sophisticated, balanced spirit which lends itself so well to many fantastic mixed drinks.
“Tequila has now overtaken vodka in sales globally. Irish bartenders like these innovative people today are helping educate the buying public and introducing amazing innovation into the cocktail experience for consumers who are now enjoying the full width of taste which Jose Cuervo has to offer them.”
The future, like the summer, looks bright for tequila – and for Jose Cuervo in particlar!