Mexican bartender Jose Luis Leon was crowned the winner of the fourth Tahona Society Cocktail Competition last Friday (27th September), winning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the USA to work alongside the US bartending legend, Charles Joly, at the Aviary in Chicago.
The grand final took place on the rooftop bar of the Demetria hotel in Guadalajara, Mexico, with 15 top bartenders from 11 countries around the world – including China, Russia, the UK and South Africa – competing to produce the best Tequila cocktails, made using Olmeca Altos. Leon – who works at Licoreria Limantour in Mexico City – emerged as the unanimous winner, with the UK’s Emma Tanner and Chris Mosey taking second and third places respectively.
The esteemed judging panel included Tequila expert and creator of the world-famous Tommy’s Margarita, Julio Bermejo; renowned American bartender, Charles Joly; 2012 Tahona Society Cocktail Competition winner, Heinz Kaiser and CLASS Magazine’s bars editor, Jane Ryan. The judging criteria included the presentation of the cocktail; the bartender’s performance; evidence of the agave flavour and the overall balance of the cocktail. Leon’s winning cocktail was a unique blend of Olmeca Altos Blanco, Noilly Prat vermouth, agave syrup, lemon, celery juice with mango, cactus and coriander micro greens, which the judges felt enhanced the natural agave flavour of Olmeca Altos Blanco perfectly.
Jose Luis Leon, said: “Taking part in the Tahona Society Cocktail competition has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life – I’m so proud to have won the final and I can’t believe that I will now have the opportunity to go the US to learn from Charles Joly and his team at the Aviary – it’s a real dream come true for me. Growing up and working in the Mexican bar scene, I have always been passionate about Tequila and it’s been fantastic to share this passion with like-minded bartenders from around the world through the Tahona Society. I would definitely encourage bartenders everywhere to get involved – it’s a great way to get real insight and knowledge about the Tequila category and ultimately, learn from some of the best bartenders in the world.”
Head judge, Julio Bermejo commented: “Congratulations to Luis for his wonderful cocktail – it really showed off the magnificent agave flavour that is evident in Olmeca Altos. It’s fantastic to see all these up-and-coming bartenders learning so much about the wonderful spirit that is Tequila through the Tahona Society, so hats off to Olmeca for supporting this unique initiative within the Tequila industry. What I love about this competition is the fact that it really allows bartenders to be creative in their quest for the best Tequila cocktail. The rules are kept to a minimum to allow the bartenders licence to have some real fun and that’s what Tequila is all about. It’s been really encouraging to see the international bartender community really embracing quality Tequila with such passion and enthusiasm – long may it continue!”
The Tahona Society was set up in 2009 by Olmeca and Worldwide Cocktail Club founders, Dré Masso and the late Henry Besant, to celebrate the ancient art of true Tequila production – the Tahona process – and provide bartenders around the world with in-depth knowledge of the Tequila category through training from world-class Tequila and bartender experts.
The Tahona Society Cocktail Competition took place at the end of a week-long trip to Mexico, during which Tahona Society educators, Steffin Oghene and Matthias Lataille, hosted the 15 finalists as they travelled to the town of Tequila to witness two different styles of Tequila production. The group then travelled to Arandas to meet Olmeca’s Master Distiller, Jesús Hernández, for a tour of the Olmeca distillery. Hernández also led a comparative Tequila tasting and an off-field road trip around the agave fields of Jalisco.
For further information about the Tahona Society, please visit the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TahonaSociety or contact Olmeca brand advocacy manager, Alexander Gorokhovsky at firstname.lastname@example.org