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Looking for a place to shed your 9-to-5 self and let your fun, alter-ego strut their stuff? Jason Odio and Marcelo Medina’s nightclub La Otra might be the perfect place to unleash that other self, let go of stress, worry, and fear and simply have some much deserved fun. Jason Odio and Marcelo Medina are arguably two of Miami’s most influential entrepreneurs and they are shaking up Wynwood’s nightlife with an elevated nightclub experience. The Miami-industry based leaders’s latest venture offers delicious craft cocktails, unbeatable vibes, and gorgeous aesthetics that are sure to complement and entice both new and loyal clubbers. With its two incredible, seasoned leaders at the helm, La Otra also sets the tone for the exciting evolution of Miami’s immensely entertaining nightlife. 

How did Jason get into the hospitality industry? What drew Marcelo to the industry?

Jason: I got into hospitality from being around it at a young age. My father’s core business was commercial construction. He was very social which led him to building most of the nightclubs and high end restaurants on South Beach in the 90’s and early 2000’s. That led him to owning a few different concepts himself. From there, I started working for Roman Jones who was a close family friend while I was in high school. In 2014, I decided to try my hand at my own hospitality venture and opened Sidebar. 

Marcelo: From a young age, I was always drawn to throwing parties and bringing people together. I started hosting high school parties with my friends and DJing at different events…Those days are long gone. I then began our promotions company, MAGMIAMI and started throwing the best Latin parties in Miami which are still in effect today.

A7307295How did these two awesome masterminds join forces? 

J: Funny enough, we’ve both worked in this industry for a long time and have a lot of mutual friends. Yet, we never met until another industry veteran, Aramis Lorie, introduced us when we were making decisions on the future of Sidebar.

M: We instantly clicked and La Otra was born.

According to Jason and Marcelo, what is the recipe for a successful partnership? Or, put differently, how does each person complement the other to enrich their business ventures?

Jason: I think the recipe for any successful relationship, business or personal, is communication and respect. Luckily for us, we have plenty of both. We are also very complementary to each other when it comes to our respective worlds and our strengths in business.

Marcelo: Respect and loyalty to each other and to what you’re building, understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses and working as a team, hyping each other up and constantly supporting one another.

A7307161 1Jason, you have several hospitality ventures. What inspires you to take on a new project? What do your ventures have in common? How are they unique? What are you most proud of when it comes to the impact you are having on Miami’s hospitality industry? What challenges have you faced?

I think everything I’ve been a part of has been unique. However, they all have the same core value of adding something good to the Miami hospitality landscape. I’m proud to be from Miami and a part of its growth, especially in hospitality. I think one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is being naive when giving people an opportunity and also navigating personalities/egos that fuel a big part of our business. 

Marcelo, you built La Otra with your family. What was that experience like? What did you learn about the business by making your loved ones a part of it?

We have always worked together and have multiple ventures together. The biggest challenge is not taking things personally and being highly aware that our interests are in the same place. Being impartial and open to new ideas makes things flow a lot faster. There’s also an inferred trust in doing things which takes a lot of the stress away. We respect each other as individuals and we all thrive in very different areas which eventually all complement each other. I also saw another side of the industry because their perspectives brought new and fresh ideas to the way I managed things by myself and, of course, this was such a big addition to the dynamic.

You both have your hearts based in family which is a beautiful value and characteristic to impart on your community. How are your businesses like families themselves? How does your appreciation for family relate to your treatment of those around you in the business and beyond?

J: Like I mentioned before, we believe this is one of the more important parts of our business. We love to see our family grow, learn and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Historically, especially in nightlife, there wasn’t much hospitality. Staff was treated poorly and constantly yelled at or belittled. Guests were treated poorly and almost had to beg to get a door person’s attention or wait forever to get a bartender’s attention. We’ve been on the receiving end of this, and we have made it our goal to make sure no one undergoes any of those experiences at La Otra. 

M: The core of our business is family and we certainly work in an ambience of closeness and total confidence. I think this kind of partnership brings out the best of us and it’s so important to us. Not only because it’s our job,  but also because this vibe is fully transmitted to the club, which translates directly into our parties and the guests who frequent them. 

A7307187As two of Miami’s most inspirational entrepreneurs, it’s significant to ask: who inspires you? What inspires you? What prompts you to move from the inspiration phase to the creative/ entrepreneurial phase? Discuss your process.

We believe in getting excited about the possibilities. Seeing a space come to life while it’s a blank canvas. How is the neighborhood going to react? How do we complement it? Envisioning our friends who inspire us and how they would receive it. The music playing, the warm spot lights dimmed just right over every table, the reaction after trying our food or drinks. Once we wrap our heads around that, it’s putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Like other things, we want it to be unique. I don’t think there’s an exact formula to the process, more of a feeling of how we’re going to achieve what we want. We reset completely when starting a new concept and think of how much fun people will have, we think of every detail.

What’s the key to evolving with Miami’s nightlife and keeping up with its many changes and developments? How do you keep your finger on the pulse of SoFlo culture?

J: Miami is changing, undoubtedly, and Marcelo does a great job of mentoring the next wave of nightlife entrepreneurs. We do our best to stay active visiting other venues, events, parties, etc. We also enjoy traveling when we can and that helps us to understand what other cities are doing well and how we can implement that in our businesses. 

Each location has a personality that you two obviously know how to introduce to your audiences and attendees. What goes into the process of attracting a diverse clientele while also respecting, honoring, and taking advantage of the location/ event space?

Like we mentioned previously, we both come from different worlds, even though they overlap a lot of times, which makes our crowd unique and complimentary. Even though Miami is predominantly Latin, we have guests that have lived here all their lives and never been to a “Latin club” but enjoy and frequent La Otra. Our range of programming helps bring diversity but they keep the same intention of a quality experience.

What inspired La Otra’s name, aesthetic, and overall vibe?

J: I think we were inspired differently by the name. Personally, I loved it because it wasn’t Sidebar anymore it was, the other club. I kept it light hearted and not so serious. 

M: In my opinion, La Otra is not the side chick everyone talks about, but rather the playful girl that comes to our club, leaving all the stress behind and bringing up the highest version of ourselves, kind of like an alter-ego.

What sets La Otra apart from other bars/ nightclubs in Wynwood? How does it fit into the fabric of one of Miami’s most “happening” districts? 

One of the first things that sets it apart is that we are able to stay open until 5 am, while the rest of Wynwood closes at 3 am. Most of the other bars in Wynwood have a more casual approach and we went for a place that would have typically been seen on South Beach twenty years ago. We like to see our guests wear their best outfits for a Saturday night of dancing. We believe that Wynwood has something to offer to a broad range of people, and that’s what makes it so attractive.

You have both a beautiful bar and a thrilling nightclub. To what extent have you considered people’s desire to get up, dance, and mingle as well as enjoy a craft cocktail in an intimate space? How  does this “best of both worlds” element relate to the evolution of nightlife?  

La Otra has both a large outdoor and indoor space, and we want people to feel welcomed even if they’re the first ones there to take advantage of one of our craft cocktails. No one likes to be the first person at the club but we’ve created inviting nooks with plenty of foliage and warm textures to make people feel comfortable. Those same benches that you can lounge on you’ll eventually stand on and dance your heart out. Nightclubs have evolved a lot from the days of “smoke & mirrors”. People aren’t fooled anymore. They are looking for value. We provide value by giving good service and a welcoming attitude. We are focused and proud to be a club and in the other case a bar, and we strive for bringing the best of each experience without trying to be something we are not.

Discuss what folks have to look forward to at La Otra. What cocktails, menu items, and events should people expect?

M: Expect the best quality cocktails with top notch garnishes and very warm customer service, we are big on Tequila and Mezcal and they should definitely try Jason’s Mezcal SACRVM.

For more information about Jason and Marcelo’s La Otra go to https://la-otramiami.business.site/ and follow La Otra on Instragram @laotramiami for more updates.



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The cocktail maestros are the backbone of our favorite happy hour spots, bars, restaurants, and lounges. Our bartenders not only set the mood for an establishment, they’re also constantly creating new boozy (and non-alcoholic), photo-worthy cocktails for all to enjoy.  

We rounded up some of our most favorite and beloved bartenders, mixologists and bar managers’ most iconic drinks to craft + serve

James Macinnes 1Klaw – James MacInnes, Liquor Boss

Papaya Piña Colada

The iconic Piña Colada holds a special place in Liquor Boss, James MacInnes’ heart. So when curating the world-class beverage menu for Klaw – the newest land and sea concept slated to hit Miami this spring – he curated cocktails that paid homage to the golden era of Miami’s history when the city was referred to as the “American Riviera,” and the Piña Colada was the first that came to mind. 

Inspired by the classic combination of Coco Lopez, pineapple juice, Caribbean rums, and lime juice, Klaw’s rendition strives to stay true to history while bringing complimentary ingredients into the fold. 

Served in the signature “Hurricane Glass” and topped with crushed ice, forgoing the expected blender all together, the Papaya Piña Colada introduces a tropical undertone by way of Papaya fruit. While, originally from Mexico, the Papaya has been adopted by the Magic City. The beauty lies in its simplicity and vintage presentation!

Featured Image*

Moses LaboyGerber Group – Moses Laboy, Corporate Beverage Manager

Some Like It Hot Cocktail

Gerber Group – owner-operator of 7 innovative cocktail bars and restaurants in New York, Washington D.C., and Atlanta – is known for its one-of-a-kind signature cocktails infused with killer flavor and personality. A personal favorite to of Gerber Group’s Corporate Beverage Manager, Moses Laboy, to craft and serve is his very own Some Like It Hot. Adored by all who try it, Some Like It Hot, is a sustainable cocktail crafted using mezcal, fresh jalapeños and rosemary cooked in simple syrup. The jalapeños are then candied via dehydration for cocktail garnish. The spicy beverage is the perfect cocktail to kick or top off the night with.

Argennis1
Argenis Reyes
Thompson Playa del Carmen Main House Catch Dirtier Bastard2
Moscow mule

Thompson Playa del Carmen – Argennis Reyes, Bar Tender

Moscow Mule
Thompson Main House is an adults-only urban resort that combines mid-century design, exceptional cuisine led by trendsetting CATCH NYC and modern amenities in a refined boutique hotel experience. The property is recognized for hosting exciting parties at their spacious rooftop and serving up tasty cocktails including the guest-favorite Moscow Mule. Made with vodka, lime juice, homemade natural ginger beer and a few drops of essential oil from a grapefruit peel, Argennis puts a unique spin on a classic cocktail perfect for a poolside afternoon.

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale

Piano Man

Piano Man

Resort & Spa – Jonathan Egged, Beverage Manager

Piano Man

Surrounded by a landscape of wildflowers, cacti, and the majestic McDowell Mountains, this luxury desert oasis tantalizes tastebuds at their renowned bars and restaurants with cocktails like Piano Man. Abounding flavors consist of house made cinnamon syrup which pairs perfectly with the nutty, dried fruit taste of sherry and the full, hearty flavor of dark rye. Topped off with egg whites for a creamy texture, the Piano Man is a silky, smooth, and unforgettable libation.

Villa La Valencia Beach Resort & Spa – Carlos Valdez Avila

Piloncillo

Los Cabos’ newest luxury resort offers guests a chic vantage point to unwind in the midst of azure Sea of Cortez views, live music and contemporary décor at La Jolla Lobby Bar. Cocktail enthusiasts can request bartender Carlos Valdez Avila’s signature Piloncillo cocktail, which balances sweet and bitter flavors for a soulful flavor profile. The Piloncillo cocktail captures the essence of this staple Mexican ingredient highlighting tasting notes including caramel, rum and smokiness. The boozy libation features whiskey, Amaretto Disaronno (Italian almond liqueur), piloncillo syrup scented with star anise and lemon juice and topped with refreshing lemon and rosemary.

Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort – Lindsay Nakamura

Cocktail: Tropical Mojito

Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort is known for its Tropical Mojito as a fun twist on the traditional cocktail. As a nod to The Aloha State’s love for pineapple, this destination-inspired drink puts the fruit front and center. Its sweetness, along with the lime’s tartness and the mint’s freshness – pulled together with the rum – immediately transport you to Kauai’s turquoise waters.

Pasea Hotel & Spa – Miguel Sandoval

Cocktail: Just Beet It

Pasea Hotel & Spa’s specialty Just Beet It cocktail offers a refreshing twist on your typical poolside libation. The California living-inspired cocktail features high-in-vitamin beets that give a much-needed energy boost after a long day of lounging in the sunshine. Shaking together the beet gum syrup with bourbon and Blanc Vermouth and hazelnut liqueur reveals a sweet and earthy tone that complements strong notes of vanilla, oak and caramel. For a fresh finish, the lemon is squeezed into the strikingly ruby red drink and is strained with a dehydrated lemon that we make in house, ensuring the highest quality.

Mahina & Sun’s at The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club – Christian Taibi, Executive Bar Manager

Singapore Sling 

I like to bring liquors, such as a London Dry Gin, out of its comfort zone. This cocktail not only supported the Tiki movement in 1930s, it is a completely unique cocktail when you pair it with Benedictine, cherry liquor and tropical juices. Finish this cocktail with seltzer and lemon oil and it is the ultimate poolside drink with a bright and herbaceous kick.

Jim Lunchick 1Merriman’s Hawaii – Jim Lunchick, Mixologist at Merriman’s Hawaii

Bespoke Mocktail

When guests order a non-alcohol, “bartender’s choice” drink, it shows trust – it also starts conversation. I like to ask the guest a couple of questions before deciding on my mocktail of choice. What is your preferred sweetness level? Do you like carbonation? A Virgin Mojito with muddled up fresh pineapple and basil is always a good choice, or anything that feels like a taste of Hawaii, fresh and yum.

 

Images credits to Klaw, Gerber Group, Merriman’s Hawaii

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Maestro Ronero Nelsón Hernandez shares more than his love for rum. He also shares his strong devotion for his country, his culture, and his community. “Expertise, patience, and passion are necessary to be a Master Ronero,” shared Nelsón. “because the important thing is not to do what you love, but to love what you do.” Nelsón’s commitment to be the image of his whole team, fills him with pride to represent those grains of sand that each team member contributes to the final product. Together, they all shine. 

Nelsón Hernandez, in addition to being passionate about distillation, and having immense pride in his work and team, also stands out in his role as an educator. He teaches how rum is prepared in different parts of the world and shares his passion for his craft and his product. “It is not just selling products. We sell Brand-Country, name, values, idiosyncrasy…” said Nelsón.

Diplomatico 12Nelsón went on to explain, “Our business model is closeness. It is familiarity. It is direct contact. We like to be known. To be seated at this table and show who we are.”

Passion is one of the biggest values that ​​he shares with all those who meet him. Despite having had only fifteen years on the market, Diplomático Rum has been within the top 10 international TRIM Magazine for seven years. The International TRIM Magazine selects 50 bars in the world and the 10 best brands with the most impressive sales and trends. “Being there among companies with great experience makes us wonder how we got there,” said Nelsón. “It is because of the quality of our product and our business power.”

Before Nelsón became Diplomático Rum’s Maestro Ronero, he was a mechanical engineer. In 1979, his first professional experience was in the oil industry.  Then, an opportunity arose for him in his hometown. A distiller needed someone to take care of the plant’s total maintenance. He applied for the job and was selected to run the plant. 

“When you work in the maintenance area, you need to know all the processes and equipment involved in the process,” explained Nelsón. 

At the time of Nelsón’s employment, Sigra, the number one Canadian company in the world, served as the founding member of the distillery. The strict quality control that characterized each step in the process impressed Nestor. He began to get involved with distillate, learning about distillates.

In 2002, a new administration took over the distillery and strengthened quality control. The new owners already had experience in the alcoholic beverage industry. Under the steady helm of the new management, the distillery became Destilerias Unidas, SA (DUSA). Today, the company has nine top-of-the-line products. DUSA became a 100% family-owned and 100% national company that opened many doors by leading with heart, compassion, and dedication.

From raw materials to bottling, everything at DUSA is made in-house. The company is a factory in which a family is a team. Within this family, all medical service is free, including medicines. There is a free dining room. There is free transportation. DUSA provides direct support to the community with medicine, transportation, and environmental education. Although Venezuela has its difficulties, DUSA considers the well-being of the family, and that makes them different from their competitors.

We asked Nelsón about the history of Diplomático Rum, and his main inspiration Don Juancho. “Don Juancho was a successful nobleman among the sugar cane world. He was born in Vzla and the son of Spanish parents. He was a Mantuano. He supported the development of the community and he loved to travel. He was also famously a lover of rum and when he arrived he shared his favorite alcohol with his friends.”

The name “Diplomático Rum” comes from the fact that people remarked that “Juancho travels so much that he looks like a diplomat.” Don Juancho had a very exclusive reserve at his house and people always commented about his legacy and how he has been a positive influence. The name Planas represents how Don Juancho helped in the development of the Planas region. Don Juancho is a significant part of Diplomático Rum’s philosophy.

You can visit https://rondiplomatico.com/ to learn more about their products. 

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Tremendo Garnish Founder and Bartender Angel Gomez, aka Angel de la Blanca, originated from Ecuador. In 2009, before becoming a bartender, Angel pursued a postgraduate degree in Argentina. Looking for work while he completed his studies, Angel became a cook in a restaurant. One day, his manager asked him for assistance in bringing supplies to the restaurant’s bar area. After seeing Angel’s hospitality skills at work, his manager gave him an opportunity to be his assistant at the bar. His manager explained everything he knew about the bartending profession and how the career had a lot to do with service. Angel had a lot of potential because of his own value of helping people and tending to their needs. Angel’s manager also taught him about wine and Gin because he was English and Gin was a part of his culture. It was this friendship that introduced Angel to the world of cocktails. He was so enamored with this world, with the hospitality industry, that he forgot about his graduate degree and became a bartender. He is currently the founder of Tremendo Garnish which he started during the pandemic and he sat down with 2ozMag Founder Helena Jose to discuss his booming new business. 

Screen Shot 2021 11 04 at 9.48.09 AMDespite the pandemic’s previous threat to the hospitality industry and its professionals, Tremendo Garnish has been a successful business because of Angel’s passion, ingenuity, and dedication. However, it was a long, difficult journey to that point. “It was a crucial moment,” said Angel, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The bartenders and the cocktail union suffered a lot as well as other unions.” Angel’s job also suffered because they were used to receiving customers and generating an entertaining environment that could not reach its full potential during the pandemic. In fact, Angel went straight into survival mode during the pandemic. He got a job at a construction company, but quickly realized that his heart and his expertise remained in hospitality. “I saw many colleagues developing their own ideas,” said Angel. “Based on my experience, I had the opportunity to create a brand called Tremendo Garnish, which is a product that bartenders use to decorate cocktails.”

Screen Shot 2021 11 04 at 9.55.23 AMAngel noticed that there was a need that existed in his profession that he could offer and thus improve life for his fellow bartenders. He developed his idea and created Tremendo Garnish. With Tremendo Garnish, Angel created a series of garnishes, decorations that bartenders place on cocktails, to satisfy the need for bartenders to create unique, artistic drinks. According to Angel, Tremendo Garnish works on the design and modification of garnishes and makes artistic proposals through dehydrated fruits and other elements for the bartender. “We massify the creation of the bartender, which usually takes time to create and replicate that detail,” explained Angel. “We save him a workload, because many times that detail is aimed at up to hundreds of cocktails, through Tremendo Garnish, we can save [the bartender] the extra work and time he spends doing it. We deliver the garnish ready to use.”

Tremendo Garnish offers aesthetic solutions for cocktails. Dried, seasonal, and exotic fruits characterize their garnishes. They have dragon fruit, golden dragon fruit, kiwi, macadamia, blood orange, limes, oranges, and many other flavors. “The first line we took was with dehydrated fruits which is an ancient technique that currently takes us to another level,” said Angel. “The dehydration technique allows us to preserve the fruit. Previously, there was a problem in the cocktail bar because perhaps the fruit was beginning to rot and we did not know, or we had to waste it and throw it away.” As a result of the dehydration, the fruit garnish maintains its condition better and lasts up to six months. The dehydrated fruit also maintains its appearance because it is not wet or decomposing. With this garnish, the bartender has an opportunity to add more elements such as spices, syrups, etc. They can place gold on the garnish, or other herbs and have a more captivating finished product. Angel added, “We also have our own creations, such as edible gold lamination, CBD gums, emulsions, and soon a line of 6-7 salts inspired by Mexican culture, such as “Sal de gusano” (worm salt), Sal de Hormiga (ant’s salt), chipotle salt, and others.”

Angel and his success as the founder of Tremendo Garnish reveal the payoff in trusting one’s intuition and developing one’s passion. Find Tremendo Garnish at around 70% of the bars in Miami or visit their website at www.tremendogarnish.com for more information.

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Jassil, the first woman to become Maestra Ronera for Brugal and the youngest Master of Rum in the industry, grew up listening to her family tell the story of Ron Brugal. She has always known that she was a part of his legacy. When she realized that she could make a career in rum, she became fascinated with the industry. With a skilled nose and refined palate, Jassil began acting on her fascination and training as a “Maestra Ronera”. (Master of Rum) 

In a recent interview, we asked her about continuing the legacy for Brugal Rum, and Jassil said, “Becoming Maestra Ronera gave me the opportunity to open new doors in the spirits industry for women of my generation and of future generations to enjoy the wonderful world behind rum creation. It has also given me the opportunity to honor and be part of the legacy of the Brugal brand.”

“At the same time,” continued Jassil. “It’s difficult and intimidating to combine tradition and innovation because it’s a big responsibility. It requires originality and confidence to take risks while respecting the history of “the process…” It’s a welcome challenge because I’m doing something I love.”

Creating a product with positive international reception also feeds into Jassil’s love for her craft. “I have been able to create great products that people love and admire globally, and have been able to represent my country, Dominican Republic, with indescribable pride,” said Jassil. 

After creating Brugal 1888, Jassil has another accomplishment of which to be proud. The current Maestros Roneros, including Jassil, created Brugal 1888 in honor of their ancestor’s innovation and long-established goal to create quality rum.  The rum benefits from the skills and expertise passed down through five generations of the Brugal family Maestros Roneros. 

“There are secrets that are to this day still kept in the hands of the family rum masters,” teased Jassil. 

Brugal Family 1Brugal 1888 Doblemente Añejado is a rum that is produced in the Dominican Republic. It is created by combining the full flavors of bourbon and sherry casks through a double-aging process. The double-aging technique, though usually reserved for high-end, single malts, allows consumers to sip Brugal 1888. The smooth, balanced rum also has notes of vanilla, red fruits, and toffee intertwined with cocoa and natural oak spice. Finally, a long-lasting aftertaste leaves a desirable hint of honey that is both elegant and divine. 

Brugal 1888 inspires consumers to reimagine their favorite stirred, spirit-forward cocktail. They can discover a Rum Negroni or Old-fashioned with a memorable and distinct taste. Or rum enthusiasts can enjoy the spirit neat to stimulate their senses and witness how the rum evolves in the glass.

Screen Shot 2021 08 20 at 8.15.09 PMAccording to Brugal’s website, Don Andres Brugal Montaner had one idea when he moved to the Dominican Republic. He dreamed of perfecting the art of rum-making. In 1888, Don actualized that dream by creating the Brugal company and thus the Brugal legend.

Five generations and nearly 130 years later, the Brugal Family continues to craft the $40 rum. Only family members become Maestro Ronero. Jassil Villanueva Quintana and Gustavo Ortega Zeller currently hold the honor of living out their family legacy.

Jassil, what do you enjoy the most from all the processes as Maestra Ronera? 

As a Maestra Ronera, I am involved in all aspects of the rum making process but most of my focus and work is within the Ageing and Formulation of Brugal. Quality cask and wood is so important for the development of Brugal rum’s flavor so overseeing this and inspecting quality is a key part of my role that I really enjoy. Also leading the development of new products and trying to create new flavors through the combinations of casks and blends is a really rewarding part of the role.  

How do you differ from other Master Rum Makers? What qualities should a successful Maestra Ronera possess?

Maestros Roneros is the name given to Brugal’s Master Rum Makers,  every rum master should have as a member of the Brugal family.

 To be a Brugal Maestro Ronero independently for being a member of the family we need to have sensory skills, a deep knowledge of the products based on the development of the senses, as well as an excellent gustative capacity to define the mixtures in the elaboration of the rums. It is an art that requires great talent, dedication and passion for the world of rum.

What do you think are the new challenges into creating new spirits? 

One of the challenges for new generations in the rum industry is to keep the spirit of innovation and creativity that characterizes our industry alive and to continue sharing a passion and appreciation for the craft of rum making with the world.

In the case of Brugal, the 5th generation of Brugal Maestros Roneros continue to work on developing new products for the years to come. The best contribution we can make is to add our own personal touch and continue to serve as role models and advocates for rum and the generations to come. That is the most important legacy we will leave.

Where do you see the Rum industry today and in the future?

I believe the Rum Industry is permanently in search, and attentive to the emergence of new business opportunities, and tries to foresee the changes that lie ahead. Helping us with the knowledge, experience, capacity and common sense necessary to make good decisions is what anyone needs today and, in the future, to continue making this spirits category full of innovation where brands such as Brugal offer a unique involvement to consumers by adapting the experiences and profiles of rums to the new trends.

What’s coming up for Brugal, anything you can share with us?

There are a few exciting things planned over the next few months, but you’ll have to wait and see! 

For more information about Brugal 1888, visit their website at Brugal-rum.com and follow their journey on Instagram (@brugal1888rum). You may also find updates on Twitter @ronburgal_es , Facebook Ronbrugalrd, and Youtube Brugal Rum USA  

*Images credit Brugal 1888*

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At Krüs Kitchen, Wednesdays are the best days. Krüs Wine Wednesday Tastings are available every Wednesday and feature wine that Krus Kitchen’s very own Wine expert and Krüs co-founder Josh Hackler has meticulously selected. With exceptional music from Vinyl Djs, Chef Sebastián’s most delicious bites, and a fantastic assortment of wine, Josh provides guests with an excellent atmosphere to wine down.

Josh

Josh Hackler, Co- Founder

As Josh aptly stated in a sit-down interview with 2oz Mag Creator Helena Jose, Krüs Wine is “a place for people to learn and enjoy wine.” Helmed by Josh and his expertise, enthusiasm, and unmatched eagerness for the craft, Krüs wine functions as a place to satisfy curiosity and explore the vast and incredible world of wine without fear, insecurity, or pretension. 

Josh is no stranger to the hospitality industry. “I had a wine business out of college,” said Josh describing his life before Krüs. “I imported Spanish wine. I lived in Spain. I sold that business in 2016 and wanted to go back to my roots in hospitality…I’ve been in the hospitality industry my whole life.”

Josh decided to co-found Krüs because of his past experiences and his present passions. “Given my influence of food and wine, and my background in importing wine, I really wanted to create a program that was both on-premise and off-premise,” said Josh. “Miami laws allow for that which is unique here in the city.”

“We wanted to create a space where we could tell a story and really promote learning and the whole education side on-premise,” continued Josh. “Obviously, [it was also great to] have a good time drinking great wine. But also [it was important to have] a great physical space to promote…a unique wine program.”  

kruskkrusteamkrusw2

According to the Krüs Market website, Josh and his team are intentional about their wine selection. Last week, Krüs ended Season 1 with Zero Zero wine. Zero Zero wine producers remove themselves from the winemaking process and allow nature to shape and improve upon the product. The name of the wine comes from the fact that there is “ zero synthetic chemical input in the vineyard and zero in the winemaking process.”

Further, the Krüs team offers low-intervention producers who not only provide an exquisite product but also express a deep “respect and care for their vines and wine.” There have been over 24 tastings hosted at Krüs Kitchen so far, and individual themes allow each tasting to stand out from the last. For the second season, Josh intends to move from wine tastings to wine events. 

The Krüs wine events will continue educating guests on all things wine while also allowing guests to socialize among themselves. Guests will sample wines and listen to the musical stylings of the vinyl Dj as they meet and greet other like-minded wine novices, connoisseurs, and enthusiasts. In the spirit of the first few wine tastings, Krüs is committed to offering a safe, comfortable environment for guests to enjoy the festivities. Because there are only ten tickets available each week, guests should note that tickets go live for sale each Thursday for the following week’s tasting. 

In addition to the wine tastings and upcoming wine events, guests can join the Krüs Wine Club.  Club members have access to a “world-class curation of natural, organic, and biodynamic wines.” For $100 a month (plus tax and delivery fees), members will receive four natural wines that the Krüs team curated with care. The shipments go out the first week of every month. However, members can save money and avoid the shipping cost by picking their box up from Krüs Kitchen themselves. Other membership perks include 10% off all artisanal Krüs Market items, $10 off WednesdayWinetasting tickets, and 15% off half cases of six wines. Lastly, a complimentary Krüs Market item is available for pick-up during your first month of membership.

The first event is set to kick off the first week of September but keep up to date on upcoming events by going to the Krüs Kitchen website https://www.kruskitchen.com. You can also click the social media icons to get the latest updates on products, tastings, and other exciting opportunities like joining the Krüs Wine Club.

Hours:

Monday: Closed

Tuesday – Friday: 12-3 p.m., 5-9 p.m.

Saturday: 12-9 p.m.

Sundays: 12-5 p.m.

Location:

3413 Main Hwy, Miami, FL 33133

Website(s):

https://www.kruskitchen.com/ (MAIN)

https://www.krusmarket.com/ (MARKET)

Social:

https://www.instagram.com/kruskitchen/?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/Kruskitchen

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Gorilla Kie is a self-made mover and shaker. Her best qualities as a mixologist, bartender, and entrepreneur are being creative, innovative, and motivated. According to Kie, you have to be innovative to be creative, and to be creative, you have to be innovative. One cannot exist without the other. This Gorilla Kie Mixology motto is the code that she lives by, and her creativity, innovation, and motivation allow her to turn everything she touches into gold. With her Midas Touch and signature gorilla moves, Gorilla Kie pays homage to her ambitious, artist self and her Haitian culture. Kie has also made a name for herself and set herself apart as one to watch as her charisma and charm catapult her to local stardom. Gorilla kie is currently a Bar Manager at Syndicate Wynwood where she also created a cocktail menu with her very own consulting company, Gorilla Kie Mixology.

Tell us your story and hospitality background. 

I’ve been in the hospitality industry for about seven or eight years. I’ve been bartending for about seven years. I have worked for corporate restaurants such as Darden. They have Bahama Breeze and Red Lobster- I’ve worked at both. I’ve also started doing creative cocktail making which is what people know me for today. I’ve only been doing it for about two years. I am self-taught. I never went to bartending school. I’ve taken a couple of classes online as far as certificates to better understand my craft. Everything, for me, is just an art of expression.  I like to say that I am a spirit serving the spirits to spirits. So my spirits need to be crafted and delegated in a manner in which people can respect, enjoy, and understand what it is that I do and why I do it. 

What inspired you to become a mixologist? What influences your mixology?

I have always had a great fascination with people throwing bottles in the air and then making beautiful art. I do not have anyone who I want to be like. If anything, I’m probably going to be the first of my kind. I am definitely paying homage to the people who have been in the industry for many years, especially the Blacks that traveled North to own their own restaurants and bars in the D.C. and Chicago area. Blacks were creating the Mint Julep, for example, which is huge for the Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby these days. I definitely pay homage to things of that nature, however, when it comes to my craft, everything is inspired. I’m an artist. I’m a creator. I try to make the best out of anything and everything that I do. 

Gorilla Kie MixWhat are the key characteristics of being a successful mixologist? 

Anybody can be a mixologist. Once you taste something and you fall in love with it, you just start to create ideas. Anyone can do that. What makes me “Gorilla Kie,” what sets me apart from any and everybody else, is that I take it a step further. Mixology is one of my reasons to connect with humanity. These days people are on their phones. There isn’t a lot of social activity going on between one human and the next. When people come to my bar, or when I go to people for private events, it is a perfect opportunity to be able to talk to people. It’s a perfect opportunity to be able to say, “Hey, how are you doing?” It’s great to have a conversation with people for people to open up. Spirits can be a really good thing or a really bad thing. A lot of people like to call it the Devil’s Juice, but I like to call it Gorilla Kie’s Juice because it is a therapeutic, medicinal method. 

How do you differ from other mixologists?

I give a beautiful experience to people. I try to change people’s perspective and understanding of what it means to come to a bar. For me, as a woman, a person of color, and the L in the LGBT, I want to be able to change perspectives. I am the minority in this industry so I want to leave a positive imprint for people. Most importantly, I want people to take a positive message when they leave my bar: they may come in one way, but they will leave another (happy). That is the most fulfilling aspect when it comes to this craft.  It’s not just cocktail making. It’s getting to know people. It’s getting to love people. It’s getting to build those relationships that can last a lifetime!

Is there any advice you would impart to individuals who don’t see themselves in the industry but who may want to be a part of it?

What I would say to people who want to be in this industry, who happen to identify as a minority in any way, is to understand what it is that they love and if they can see themselves doing it every day.  One of the ways to be able to do that is to practice that craft and ask yourself if you’ve become exhausted or tired of it. That is not necessarily to be misconstrued with being burned out because anybody can be burned out with something they love. Everything in moderation. If you don’t feel like it is something you can do on an everyday basis, then it is not your passion. But if it is, find creative ways to make it your best. Have conversations with fellow people about your line of work to see if it’s something you really want to do. Once you figure that out, maximize to your fullest potential.  No matter what color, creed or walk of life people are; ask and inquire about some knowledge to become the best at your craft. Not only will You find this most rewarding, but you will  further understand that this is a great way to becoming your best self. 

You are known as “Gorilla Kie”. What is the significance of the Gorilla?

Gorillas are my spirit animal. My mom is an American educator and my father is an immigrant from Haiti who became a Master Electrician and Contractor. I grew up in a strict household when it came to education and when it came to what my brother and I were fed on television. We couldn’t watch cable during the week. All we were left with was Bill Nye: The Science Guy, the Discovery Channel, etc. Within that process, I used to love watching documentaries about animals. I fell in love with gorillas. You know how they say that lions are the kings of the safari? Well, gorillas are the king of the jungle. I stay true to that. This industry is a jungle within itself so I am that gorilla. I am that king. I am a queen in every way, but I am a king as well. I believe that one and the other are a unit. They are still royalty. They are still top tier. I am an androgynous individual. Yes, I am female, but I have a lot of masculine qualities. I see myself as “king”. Loosely based on that, I put “Kie” for “Kierra” for short.  

2021 04 26 Woodford Reserve Chose FR 14019 EditedYou are also known for your signature Gorilla moves. Where did these moves originate?

My moves developed over time. A lot of people don’t know that I practiced Martial Arts when I was younger. Because of muscle memory, my foot movement carried over to my shaking methods. While shaking or when I scream, I’m literally calling on the ancestors. I am aiming to make sure that, before I give the cocktail, it is gifted with the spirit’s presence. That might be the Haitian in me. I move accordingly depending on what cocktail I’m making or who I’m talking to. It’s not choreographed. I just go with it. I am all about physics and alchemy. It is all a form of energy being put into that spirit. It has to be perfect. If it’s not perfect, it’s unconducive with me. That is the meaning behind ‘the shake’. 

On your IG you say, “I AM, THE Mixologist/Bartender who turns everything ‘TOUCHED’ into GOLD.” When did you learn that you had the Midas Touch and how has it impacted your professional and/or personal life?

I am a very powerful individual. I mean that in a spiritual and a courageous way. I am very confident in knowing that anything I do will be done to the best of my ability. Whether it’s a conversation, making a cocktail, or taking my lovely wife out to dinner, it is going to be a golden moment. Gold, other than diamond, is one of the most precious stones in this world. I am gold. I see myself as gold. I see myself as unbreakable. I am a stone of color. Gold is very powerful and so I want any and everything I do, touch, or say, to be impacted on that next individual equivalently. 

How would you describe Miami in three words? How would you describe the Mixology scene?

I was born and raised here in Miami. If I can describe Miami in three words I would say breeze, hot, and fine. That is Miami. When it comes to the Mixology scene, I’ll be honest, and say that we need a lot of work. I am well traveled when it comes to the Mixology scene in the United States. I don’t really know a scene here. I am not one who has been in the game for a long time compared to some individuals not living in Miami. There are ambitious professionals in the game of mixology. They go to different distilleries and learn how to become Master Blenders- hopefully one day.  I don’t see the same charisma down here in Miami. For me, personally, that is a challenge and I would really like to help change that. 

Discuss Gorilla Kie Mixology LLC. What are some of your services?

I have been asked to start a business for the longest time. I was thinking to myself, “How would I start a business?” I’m the last person in my family to become a business owner. I’m the first person in my family to be in this line of business. I wanted to monetize and maximize my business with what it is that I do. I started to create cocktails for pop up shows. I would pre-package them. I thought, number one, it’s a great way to network. Number two, it’s a great way to get your name out there. Number three, it’s a great way to find out what these Gorilla Kie cocktails are all about and also setting up a safe, creative space for people to come and see me outside of the bar. I can have more personal interactions with them. These were some of the incentives of starting a business. Another incentive was being able to be a cocktail consultant. One of my most recent projects, there is a new bar called Syndicate Wynwood, that is getting ready to open. I was responsible for creating one of their menus. That was a lot of fun so I was thinking that I could make some really good money off of creative cocktail making. I could have conversations and find out what people like. I try to meet those expectations which is something I do on an everyday basis. 80% of the cocktails that I make at my bar are for the first time. Why? Because when people come, I do not like to offer what’s on the menu. I like to talk to them. I like to find out their favorite spirit. I like to find out what kind of flavors and food they like. Then, I make a masterpiece cocktail off of that, right there. I also do freelance bartending at weddings, anniversaries, etc.  For pricing, people can go through my instagram.  

Are you able to discuss your upcoming Cocktail Bar Syndicate Wynwood Miami? If so, what was the process of pursuing this venture? How did you meet your business partner/ creator friend Andres Gill? What inspired you two to go into business together?

Andres Gill has an extensive resume when it comes to bars in Miami. He is very well known within our community. I was introduced to him by my cousin. Once he and my cousin got together, and she let him know who I was, the opportunity for Syndicate Wynwood was later extended to me. Being that over a period of time, I was able to say this is what I have been able to do and these are the pictures I’ve taken. I showed my charisma when it comes to creative cocktail making. When I make a cocktail, this is how intense it is for me and how serious I take it. I think that I was able to hit all the nails in the wall with one strike. That is why they reached out to me when it came to creating the menu. 

On your IG, you write that you are the woman with the hat that dreams. What is the significance of your hat? When did you start wearing it and how does it relate to your approach to your craft?

I started wearing hats on an everyday basis back when I met my wife. That was in 2015.  I have always been a lover of hats. On my mother’s side, who is American (her mom is from Mississippi), these southern women are always known for their extravagant looking hats that they wear when they go to church on Sundays. Even though I didn’t have any hats, I would always wear my grandma’s hats whenever I went to church with her. As far as my Haitian side, my grandfather is known for his fedoras with their feathers. He would have his Hennessy or his Barbancourt while he’s playing dominoes. I just think of the confidence. The way he walks. He is a man to be respected. He has always had this spirit on him. You walk differently when you wear your crown. My hair is my crown. My mind, most importantly, is my crown. I never leave the house without my hat because it is a reminder to carry my mind with me when I walk through the door. For me, that is the reason I take such pride when it comes to my hats. They’re an extension of me. I wear the hat. The hat does not wear me. It is personal. I wear these hats well because they are where my ways of life stem from. 

What is the best way to contact you?

Follow Gorilla Kie on IG @master_gorilla_kie, @go_kie_mix, and @thegorillakieshow

 

*All the images credits goes to @52chefs 

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Give the National Ambassador of Abasolo Whisky and Nixta Licor de Elote, Cesar Sandoval three adjectives, and he will make you an incredible drink. From cooking with his mom and two sisters to becoming a part of the hospitality industry at fifteen, Sandoval has always loved leaving people grateful, happy, and excited for an unforgettable experience. Sandoval, a first-generation Mexican, is no stranger to the power of serving one’s community. As a national ambassador, he continues to bring people a joyous product that thrives from its Mexican heritage and pays homage to its culture in flavor, aesthetic, and production. 

What drew you to the hospitality industry? 

I was born in El Paso, Texas. I am a first-generation Mexican American and currently live in San Diego. Hospitality started with my family. My mom, two sisters and I would be in the kitchen cooking different things together and listening to music. My first job was at a restaurant as a host.  I was fifteen years old, I started there and never looked back; I fell in love, it was addicting. From there, I worked my way up in almost every position in the industry, with the most recent position being bar director for a restaurant group. Hospitality is my passion! I love making cocktails, I love seeing the guests’ instant gratitude. It is beautiful! 

How did you get involved with Abasolo? 

Our Director of Advocacy and dear friend Camille Austin, reached out to me and asked if I was interested in creating a new project that would be revolutionary. We continued to stay in contact and while both of us kept doing our research it became evident that this new brand and myself were a perfect match. When I finally got the opportunity to try Abasolo for the first time, I decided to taste it blindly without looking at any bottle or label design, I sipped it and it instantly put a smile on my face, something I had never tasted in spirit form. The rich corn flavor and complexity was complete nostalgia, it took me back to those days in the kitchen with my mother making atole, tamales and fresh tortillas. It was fantastic!

Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky 5 Photo Credit Abasolo Ancestral Corn WhiskyWhat should we know about Abasolo Whisky? 

It’s truly a unique whisky unlike any other. It embodies the true flavor and expression of corn that has never been done before. It uses an ancestral cooking technique Nixtamalization which is how you convert maiz into masa. Without it we would not have beautiful dishes like tortillas, tamales, tlayudas and many more. It adds amazing flavors and aromas that you simply cannot get without it, and no other spirit has ever harnessed this process. We work with local family farmers that have been growing cacahuazintle for over 200 years. This is an ancestral corn that has been protected for thousands of years. We do a long fermentation process, double distil and age outdoors in the beautiful hills of Jilotepec de Abasolo. 

Would you say Nixta and Abasolo go together? What is the difference between Nixta and Abasolo? 

Abasolo is a new world whisky unlike any other, we use ancestral non-GMO cacahuazintle corn that is native to Mexico. We work directly with farmers, use a Mesoamerican cooking process called nixtamalization, we roast the corn after the nixtamalization, and a part of our corn is malted at our distillery. We then do a long 5-day fermentation, we double distilled in small copper pot stills and finally aged outdoors, really encompassing the full circle of our spirits starting and ending in the fields. 

Nixta was born out of our desire to keep innovating around Abasolo. When making Abasolo and whisky in general there is a grace period while waiting for your whisky to age where some distillers would make vodka, our master distiller Ivan Saldana wanted to do something different and completely revolutionary. We started experimenting with our corn mash, with the same cacahuazintle corn but at a younger stage in its life. Instead of using fully mature maiz we used the tender corn which we know as elote, the same corn used for esquites. It is naturally tender and sweet, and we roast half of it and the other half leave as is. We then macerate it with our unaged Abasolo for around 4 months, and then add our unfermented maiz mash that we use to make Abasolo, and the result is fantastic. Finally, we add a natural sugar in its purest form that is essential in Mexico called Piloncillo. The results are one of a kind, making it perfect for any and every cocktail occasion. They are a perfect pair, they go very well together, my favorite is a Jilo Old Fashioned, 2 oz. Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky, .5 oz. Nixta Licor de Elote, and a couple dashes of bitters. 

Cesar 2How is Abasolo created? 

It all starts with our farmers; they are the soul and spirit of our whisky and we could not be here without them. Juan Carlos Carmona and his family plant our cacahuazintle corn in late February and harvest towards the end of October. Once harvested, every single cob is inspected and hand cut gathering all our kernels that we eventually use for our spirit. Once the corn is perfectly dried it arrives at Destileria y Bodega Abasolo. We then take the corn and nixtamalize it, after we carefully roast the corn giving it another element of aroma and flavor. We also malt part of that corn making this whisky 100% corn. After that we mill the corn into a fine flour and add hot water and add yeast. This process takes around 5 days and once we have a fully fermented mash, we have a content of 10% – 12% ABV “corn beer” We then distill in our copper pot stills and it comes out at 40%ABV, and it is delicious! In order to get more out of our barrels, we need higher proof, so we do a slower second distillation resulting in a “white dog” of about 62.5% ABV. We then add that into our previously used American oak barrels and some new barrels and aged outdoors in the beautiful hills of Jilotepec. 

How is this process different from other whiskey making? 

We have taken the process of whisky making and have sort of flipped it on its head. Our main focus is on our raw ingredient – we care deeply about our corn, trying not to alternate the raw material, but to expose its unique, delicate flavor. We use nixtamalization, which has never been done before in any spirit or category, a long fermentation that is not normally done in whisky. and we open air age. Most whisky is usually aged in temperature-controlled warehouses or basements to control angels’ share. We age outdoors in the high hills of Jilotepec to give Abasolo a sense of place or what we think of terroir, really following our path of it being “Alma de la Tierra” Soul of the Earth

Screen Shot 2021 06 05 at 11.26.35 AMDo you think that because it is a small distillery, it brings the consistency of the flavor, or do you think that it might have a slight difference? 

We have a road map of where we want to go, and it is very consistent but the beauty in doing a craft spirit with a small production is the beauty that every batch can vary slightly. That is why people love agave spirits because depending on the batch there are slight aromas and flavors that are distinct to that specific lot. The other day, I was tasting a batch and I got a little more chamomile and roasted corn than the previous batch.  

What are your recommendations for drinking Abasolo? How would you drink it for the full experience? 

I personally love Abasolo neat or what I like to call “Abasolo Solo”, but it is such a beautiful, complex, yet wonderfully balanced whisky that can be served with a large cube and is so versatile in cocktails. It can do all the whisky cocktails, like Old Fashioneds and Boulevardiers, but because of it’s delicate flavor and the fact that it’s not over-oaked, it works well in cocktails where you’d normally use rum, agave, cachaca, and more. Lots of bartenders are thinking outside of the box and creating wonderful cocktails that may not necessarily use whisky originally, mixing it with tiki and agave cocktails. 

Is this a product that you can also pair with cigars?

Yes, we have had several cigar lovers tell us how well it pairs with cigars, it complements the cigar, the honey, leather, and earthy tones pair wonderfully with tobacco. 

As a brand ambassador, what is the role you like the most? 

I love education. I get nerdy. Knowledge is power. It sounds cliché, but it is true. I love sharing knowledge, sharing stories, and learning from all the experiences. The more I teach and educate the more I learn from all the wonderful people I get to meet. My goal, as a human being and as a National Ambassador representing Abasolo and Nixta, is to empower and inspire other people that may be interested in this industry to say, “I can do this!” or “I want to work for a Mexican company!” Out of all the things that this role requires, my favorite is hosting and doing pop ups. It is my Mexican hospitality. At the end of the day, I am a bartender. I love doing pops, you get to meet a lot of people across brands and networks. Doing distillery tours or when I take someone to Mexico is so rewarding. I love showing people the vast beauty that my beautiful country has to offer.

What are your other hobbies? 

I’m a musician. They kind of coincide music, food, cocktails, drinks. For me, that is what excites me. That is what I live for!

How do we follow your journey? 

IG: @saysar 

Website: https://www.abasolowhisky.com

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As a sommelier, mixologist, and Co-Founder of Mijenta Tequila, Juan Coronado has been in the food and beverage industry for more than thirty years. Whether serving as the founder and Creative Director for Colada Shop or embarking on a brand new venture, any brand or business that Juan graces will thrive as a direct result of his experience, passion, and community-oriented mindset. So too, as a writer, Master Distiller, and passionate student of all things Tequila, Ana Maria Romero Mena brings her experience, expertise, and admiration for Tequila to the forefront of Mijenta’s aesthetic. As two incredible individuals in the rapidly growing industry, it is no wonder that the renowned Master Distiller Ana and Industry Vet Juan have joined forces to create Mijenta Tequila’s stylish and stunning look. With her impeccable designs, Ana has captured the essence of Mijenta Tequila which is as delicious as it is respectable, as smooth as it is captivating, as versatile as it is celebratory. At a glance, consumers will notice that Mijenta Tequila is a brand for the land, for the people, and for life. 

Tell us your story and hospitality background. What’s your connection? 

JC: I jumped into the hospitality and service industry about 30+ years ago. I have a background in Engineering and Art. I also have an interest in the hospitality industry which led to my curiosity in cocktails, spirits, wines, and distillates. I went to The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and became a sommelier. I got interested in diving into wine. I used to be part owner of a champagne bottle bar called the Bubble Lounge in San Francisco and New York. Then, I ventured out and did a Mixology craft cocktail bar. Afterward, I started working with brands through consulting. The whole deal with Brand Ambassadors was not a position that existed. Due to my knowledge, I got into a position as a Brand Master with Bacardi years later. This was a great opportunity because I took part in the production and marketing. I used my voice to design certain rums and to market to different countries. I became the Global person and figure for Bacardi while also being a part-owner of Colada shops, Serenata, and Bresca. I had three businesses in Washington D.C. In the case of Serenata, it is free for all for Latin spirits and Latin-inspired combinations. We cover every distillate from Patagonia to Spain. 

I did approach Ana Maria Romero. For us, it was instant Tequila love. I could tell that she was the right person to create this beautiful, delicate, aromatic, and traditional profile through the phone. That’s the way I like to describe it.

AM: I started studying wines 30 years ago. I studied at Davis University, not as an oenologist but as a sensory evaluation.  It was my passion to know about wines, and as I made visits to different parts of the world, they asked me about Tequila. There is a specific case that happened to me when I was visiting the Martell wineries.  Someone asked me, “Hey, aren’t you from Jalisco? Well, let’s talk about Tequila.” I didn’t know anything, just the basics. I knew that Tequila was a liquor that came from agave. I began to study Tequila. I visited all the distilleries, and I learned that Tequila is sophisticated and complex.  It does not have a unique process. It has several ways of being made. Even if it is a single plant, it behaves differently depending on the region, the climate, and the processes. I started doing Tequila sensory evaluation seminars. A client in 2007 told me, “if you like Tequila so much, why don’t you do one?” And he invited me to work in his factory. That’s when I realized that this is what I liked. I liked to understand Tequila, what happens in each process, the grinding, and each phase of the process. That was how I discovered the olfactory imprint of Tequila. I have an aromatic circle of Tequila. That is how I started working with big brands until I got to know Juan Coronado, who wanted to develop a Culinary Tequila. I said yes, and today I am a Tequila designer.

Screen Shot 2021 05 19 at 9.54.08 AM

What inspired you to create Mijenta? 

JC:. Behind the inspiration of Mijenta Tequila is a strong feeling for the land, for what Arandas means. We wanted to create a Tequila that brings and exposes all the biodiversities, aromas, flavors, and colors of the land of Arandas. That unique red soil that governs the whole terrain is unique because of the nutrients and the iron content it possesses. We wanted to bring everything into the production and the design of Mijenta Tequila’s profile. With an eye on sustainability, an eye on the land, and an eye on the people, we can bring it all together and bring it to life. Our motto is por la tierra, por la gente, y por la vida.   

AM: All Tequilas are made from the same plant. However, when a customer asks you for something specific, and you see through their eyes, being able to satisfy that dream is fascinating in the development of the product. If they tell you,“ I want a Tequila that is Mineral, that represents the earth, that speaks of tradition,” you have to know what points you are going to focus on for that product. We implement a much longer cooking time for the agave. We select agaves only from regions close to Arandas, an Alteña region because that is the area we want to know. We know that its reddish color is due to the high concentration of iron that is present. We also know that there are other components that we are learning about to create the Añejo, which has more time in the barrel than another Tequila. We are studying whether the Ph influences that or not. Another topic that we found exciting when designing Tequila was selecting the yeast. We discovered which yeast would highlight all the characteristics of the highlands region. We did a study and chose one. From there, we went on to fermentation. The long or short fermentation process gives us the aromatic characteristics, and finally, the distillation issue. We also decided that this Tequila was not filtered so as not to remove aromatic characteristics. When you take care of all the points of a process, you do not need any fixes. This consideration was part of the philosophy requested by Juan Coronado and Mr. Dolan. Our Reposado is to express everything that we achieve in the Blanco, with very used barrels and very new European and American barrels. We want the barrels to be a framework for our drinks. Let Tequila not become wood. We want to transport people to what Tequila is when they taste it, and we succeeded. 

Screen Shot 2021 05 19 at 9.54.51 AMWhat are Mijenta Tequilas Values? How do these values intersect with your principles and standards for yourself as well as for the industry?

AM: The first thing is that it is a real, honest Tequila. It is a Tequila that expresses the naked soul of the agave. This Tequila brings us its letters of nobility through the attributes of the land. We investigate, see, and talk with the agaveros that have good agricultural practices. For us, it is very important that they take care of the soil and land. We firmly believe that without soil there is no agave. We want to take care of it and from my point of view as a Tequila teacher, people fall in love with Tequila.

JC: For us, it is very important to have safe practices when it comes to production. We consider the agricultural methods. We deal with the jimadores. We don’t own the land, but we care so much about the practices that happen on the land. We want to make sure that the voices in our work of the jimadores are understood. We want to make sure, during our process, that the hands of our team, the production team, and Ana Maria and I, the rest, are important. We want to get the final product into the right hands. We also want those with the right hands to come to understand when they taste our product, all the care that was taken during the process. Our motto is por la tierra, por la gente, y por la vida. For the land, for the people, and for life. We take these practices seriously because they involve all the pillars of Mijenta. If we do not have a good agave, we cannot create a great production. If we do not have good production, we cannot have a good product or good Tequila at the end of the day. The land is the most important thing. The hands of the people that work the land are the most important thing. Those are the true values of our brand. The care of the land, the care of the people, and how we celebrate life is our main difference. 

What contributes to a successful business partnership?Screen Shot 2021 05 19 at 9.55.30 AM

JC: We believe in doing right. At Mijenta, we believe in doing right by doing well. We want to create a good flavor profile that respects traditions, Mother Nature, and the processes that we are establishing. We always say that we are not in a rush. The product will be ready when it is ready. We cannot force Mother Nature to give us what we want. It happens when it happens, and we take that presence from Mother Nature, and then we turn it into an art. That’s what we are trying to do. It takes time, so we are very patient. Ana Maria and I, when it comes to production, ride the wave with Mother Nature. We cannot isolate the process. We are getting used to spending time and using our senses. When all distilleries smell like Mijenta, we know that we did it. It takes time. 

AM: It is very important to have common points of view about the product and the management of the image. Because in the end, each taster is a taster who will say yes or no to the product, which is a high commitment. We also consider the global vision to make a high-end product and take it to international markets. We selected very successful, capable people with a good track record to carry out this task. They are capable of not only developing a Tequila. They are also, with the correct marketing, capable of making and taking it to the people. We also believe a lot in the educational part of Tequila. We believe that the commitment to lead people to learn about our history, our land, and how to enjoy Tequila is very important. We want to have a community that buys our Tequila because it is valuable and conquers the senses. That is the educational part that we want to achieve.

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Ana Maria Romero

What do the two of you bring to Mijenta separately? What do you bring to the brand collectively?

AM: I have contributed my experience and my knowledge of the industry. I have also contributed to doing different things, but at the same time in conjunction with Juan. Juan can understand the tastes of American palates and European and Asian ones because of his background as a world Mixologist. That vision has made this process and this product very enriching. We work together by adding ideas. We talk about creative processes, etc.

JC: In my case, since I have more than 30 years in the beverage industry, I have been able to tame the knowledge of understanding. I have been moving forward when it comes to forecasting. I bring in knowledge from the wine industry. I have made wine. I have made beers. I have consulted for big brands such as King Cognac. I have worked with Gins, Vodkas, Rums. I have experience in production and the knowledge that I have in consumers, the market, and the trends. Each market reacts differently. All of this has given me the ability to be the eyes and ears of our brand Mijenta. 

What have you enjoyed the most from all the processes creating a Tequila?

JC: My favorite part of my journey through Mijenta is the interaction with consumers and bar professionals. I have been doing this for years. It makes me feel like I’m in my grandma’s house with my big family. I love sharing good energies and stories among ourselves. It’s key to foster what is the need, where the trends are going, and what are the challenges that we are facing. I love the communication part of it. Sharing is caring for me. At Mijenta, of course, we have a beautiful product that we would like to spread the gospel of Mijenta. We would like to spread the values of Mijenta all around. Of course, the history and traditions of Mexico are key. We are a brand new brand. This is going to be a long journey. I enjoy it. I am going to be able to go to market and impact others. I  let them know the best part about creating a good brand versus us staying still and waiting to see what happens. I am a go-getter. I am always going to be out on guard when it comes to the teaching of the Tequila and the process that we meticulously create with Ana Maria. I am going to be the guardian of it forever- that is my favorite part of it. 

AM: What I have enjoyed the most is the leadership. I love that people get motivated, do the work, train the staff, share their knowledge with others, in addition to designing Tequila, which is my passion.

Screen Shot 2021 05 19 at 10.09.01 AMWhat have been some challenges of being a New Tequila brand next to the others with many years of history?

AM: The challenge is to have your own personality and achieve your own style. This is a differentiating characteristic from powerful brands that may be our competition. That is different. That people can say, this is a Mijenta.

JC: I echo Ana Maria. The real challenge here is not us being a new brand. The real challenge is just us creating a unique profile. We can taste thousands of Tequila, but there is always room for improvement. We have improved and taken Tequila to a different platform because we are hogging the platform of tradition and authenticity. We are also in love with the Culinary experience. We wanted to have a GM that is so smooth and delicious that people can sip it. Or, they enjoy it with ice or in a cocktail. Being able to understand the meaning of that Aranda’s perfume, as Ana Maria said before, is key for us. If there is a challenge, it would be for the other brands looking at us. 

Ana Maria, how do you differ from other Master distillers? What qualities should a successful MD possess?

AM: A deep knowledge about the processes is the differentiating aspect. Know each phase from the agricultural part to the creative part. One of the things that distinguish me is the creativity of not always falling into the same thing that everyone else does. I look for different things, different opportunities. I play with different variables that can occur in the process. This approach makes a difference in a successful MT, but also the part of forming a good team.

Ana Maria, you just recently won Best Maestra Tequilera 2020  by Tequila Aficionado Magazine. What was it like to receive such recognition? Who has helped you along the way? 

AM: It was unexpected. When you love your work and are passionate about it, you don’t expect recognition because you were hired to do something excellent. However, I am very grateful to Tequila Aficionado magazine for giving me that recognition. I believe that it commits me more to doing better than not keeping what I have. Having this type of recognition is a commitment because you have to inspire others.

Ana Maria, what other achievements/ opportunities have you had or hope to have in the future?

AM: I write books. My first book won 3rd place in Le Gourmand Award which is a very powerful gastronomy contest in France. I took third place globally with this book on the theme of the pairing of Tequila. I aspire to continue educating people who want to believe in Tequila, to continue promoting the culture of Mexico and its values. I also want to inspire women who believe in their dreams. Talent does not have a gender. Talent is talent. I believe that when talent is real, it opens doors and tranverses borders.

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Mijenta

Juan, how do you want to position Mijenta in the consumer’s mind?

JC: Mijenta will find its niche in Culinary applications and opportunities such as restaurants, tastings, degustations, etc. In the case of the Blanco, it is the best partner that a cocktail may have. The cocktail will taste like Arandas, and it will have the olfactory sense and taste profile of land that is so unique and pristine. For consumers, I always tell everybody to bring their favorite Tequila and taste it next to Mijenta, and you’ll decide what is good for you. We don’t want to sound cocky because we are humble people. We took all the Tequilas that we tasted in our careers into consideration. 

Juan, What is your vision for Mijenta?

JC: We wanted to deliver something that has an opportunity on a table. Mijenta Tequila is best enjoyed with friends. If my Tequila can pass the test of culinary dishes and be fine with citrus dishes,  cooked stews,  salads, and desserts, we’re somewhere. Everywhere two or three people have a bite to eat, there is room for Mijenta. There is room to enhance their experience. 

How may we follow your journey? 

Instagram: @mijentatequila

Facebook: @mijentatequila

Website: https://shopmijenta.com

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