My go-to spirit of choice is probably always going to be straight Bourbon or Rye – with Gin making a strong bid for second place. But I’ve been growing more and more fond of Tequila as both my budget and drinking habits have matured since we last spent much time together – in college, that is. College. Where tequila goes to die. What a sad demise for a product with such a rich history and so much national pride attached. Thankfully, things are turning around for Tequila, and I’m glad to be doing my part to elevate her image here in the United States.
But there’s at least one aspect of this misunderstood spirit that has been outdoing just about everybody as long as I can remember, and that is their bold, creative packaging design. You’ll get a small taste of it at most US liquor stores, but you really need to travel south of the border to truly appreciate the variety of textures, materials, shape and form – and artistry which which much of it is executed. There’s a “Tequila Museum” in Playa del Carmen that boasts the “World’s Largest Tequila Collection” – in truth it’s more of a medium-sized, all-agave liquor store with some extra-special bottles on display among those that are for sale. Playa del Carmen seems like an odd place for such a collection. I can only imagine (and intend to find out) what you might find in Jalisco, where Tequila is actually made, a thousand miles to the west.
Anyway, I was fortunate to wander into this place late one night a few years ago and greatly enjoyed exploring the colorful bottles with features like blown-glass cacti, hand-painted stoppers and cast-metal pieces among the many, many other fun and interesting details. I think of that store/museum often and look forward to going back as soon as possible (after visiting Jalisco) with more room in my suitcase to bring some of it home with me.
I wonder what it might look like if some of these unconventional forms, materials and artistry found their way into the American Bourbon industry.
Here’s a little guy I found in the Southwest just last week – 50ml of Kah Reposado in a hand-painted, ceramic bottle shaped like a skull. How cool is that?