Speciality Brands agave spirits ambassador Gabriela Moncada told The Morning Advertiser operators should think of agave spirits the same way as wine when looking to enhance drinks offerings in the category.
According to Moncada, everything from the water or landscape used to different production methods from different regions of Mexico can affect the flavour profile of agave-based spirits like Tequila or Mezcal.
She said: “You can never say wine is just one flavour because sometimes the winemaker will be using the same grape and the same techniques, but the ambience, the seasons, the earth, everything might be different, and then the liquid will come up different.
“There are so many different styles of Tequila; the way the master distiller does things, the style of production, all those kinds of things, will give a different flavour.”
Moncada added Tequila from the highland areas tends to have slightly more peppery notes while the valley areas create a sweeter background in addition to several different age styles of Tequila for operators to consider.
Blanco, which has been aged in wood for no more than two months, Resposada, aged from two months upwards, Anejo, aged from one-year or more and extra Anejo, which has been aged from three years.
Moncada continued that consumers are becoming more “open minded” when it comes to exploring the category following a “huge increment” of sales in the off-trade during lockdown, which has since transferred into the on-trade.
She said: “The trend right now is that everybody is open minded to try new flavours; it is definitely growing.
“During lockdown we saw a lot of new trends coming from different places in the world; people are definitely more open minded to try different flavours and learn from other cultures.”
In addition, the way in which Tequila is made has also benefitted from new technologies in recent years, which has opened the category up even more, according to Moncada.
According to data from CGA by NIQ, as of February 2023 the Tequila category had seen a 30% upswing in value compared with pre-Covid, rising from £177m to £230m this year.
Furthermore, the category had grown 28.5% over the past year with an increase from £179m in 2022.
Moncada also urged operators to stick to “simple serves”, for example a Paloma cocktail, as they are the “best thing ever” as well as looking at food pairings with the category.
“The Paloma cocktail is actually even more popular in Mexico than Margarita because of the simplicity of making it; it can be as simple or as complicated as you make it but now you see it everywhere”, she continued.
Gabby's Paloma CocktailIngredients:
- 50 ml tequila blanco
- ½ lime freshly squeeze
- Cubed ice to the top
- Top up with pink grapefruit soda
- Combine ingredients in a highball glass
- Serve with sea salt rim and a pink grapefruit slice to garnish
However, “quality” was the important thing to look for in a Tequila or Mezcal, according to Moncada, and that while it may not necessarily be a cheap spirit, quality does not always mean the most expensive.
“A Tequila or Mezcal takes such a long time to produce; it is not a cheap spirit to produce.
“People need to understand that first of all, it should not be cheap, although you [don’t need to] go all the other way to be super expensive."
This is where education, either through a drinks ambassador or supplier, was imperative when looking to improve offerings in this category and understand the different flavour profiles available and educate customers to try different things, she continued.
"It is as important as knowing what you’re selling on your menu for allergies and all those kinds of things.
“I always say to people need they need to try [different products] as well; ask your supplier to provide samples and give you the knowledge to understand and choose what you like, because it is important that you like what you're selling.”