The BEAT Society Takes Refuge In Manchester


The Pernod Ricard BEAT Society rolled into Manchester this week with its 6 strong team of some of the UK’s influential and engaging industry figures taking over the new Refuge bar and restaurant in the city centre.

Concentrating on seven categories, the likes of Phil Huckle (UK Brand Ambassador Chivas Regal), Liam Sparks (Irish Whiskey Ambassador), Megs Miller (UK House of Tequila Ambassador), Matthias Lataille (UK Brand Ambassador Martell), Michael Foster (UK Brand Ambassador Havana Club) and special guest Jake O’Brien Murphy of Callooh Callay in London showed off their respective brand and category, but with a twist that offered an insight ‘outside the box’.

With only two more cities out of the initial seven to visit, I thought I’d offer an insight into what you can expect for the day as the BEAT team head to Newcastle (31/01/2017) and Liverpool (28/02/2017).

Prepare to demystify the style of Irish Whiskey and the impact that Jameson and Midleton Distillery have created within the whiskey market as Liam Sparks talks through the process of creation. From both column and pot distillation, to the wood styles within ageing, Liam engages with his knowledge and stories over a couple of drams, including distillates from the column and pot stills, as well as the likes of Redbreast 12yr and Jameson Caskmates.

Following the Irish closely are the Scots, championed by Phil Huckle with his focus on the luxury blend of Chivas Regal. Promoting towards the history of the whisky cocktails and how Chivas Regal have been at the forefront of some of the most iconic classics, experience the styles and profiles of such forgotten gems as the Morning Glory Fizz, as well as last years Chivas Masters winning drink by Chelsey Bailey. You can also hear how you can enter the 2017 edition of the Chivas Masters, as well as experience The Huckster!

Heading to the grape side of the spirit categories, Matthias Lataille shows his insight into Martell by bringing it to the forefront of your mind when modifying your cocktail creations. Sample classic cognac drinks such as the Sidecar using the VSOP expression, as well as twists on staples including the Pierre Collins as Matthias shows his creativity and knowledge on cognac and tips of how to invite your customers to experience.

Special guest star Jake O’Brien Murphy of Callooh Callay in London is on hand for the tour to offer an honest insight into the world of cocktail competitions, using his own experiences of entering competitions, including Jameson and Havana Club, in his career that includes positions within famed bars in Liverpool such as 81LTD. The do’s and dont’s of performance etiquette, how to approach those all important judges, understanding the brief set out, and adapting yourself to the live situation with confidence, Jake goes through the motions of before, during and after as you set out to highlight yourself to your peers and industry figures.

Demystifying tequila is Megs Miller, one of the latest additions to the BEAT Society family, as she focuses on Olmeca and how agave is riding the trend of the bartenders inquisitive. Serving up samples of Blanco, Reposado and Anejo, she’ll guide you through the tequila process, how Olmeca has grown over the years to accommodate changing tastes and attitudes towards the category, as well as her own agave experiences and stories when visiting Mexico and teaching across the world.

You can listen to Michael Foster’s stories too as he talks about Havana Club, with an emphasis on Cuba itself. Diving into how Havana Club has impacted the island in regards to cocktails such as the Mojito, Cuba Libra, Daiquiri and El Presidente, the enjoyment of the traditional recipes of such too, plus an understanding of how these classics have been devised through the stalwart bar scene within Cuba itself.

Mr Jake O’Brien Murphy also talks candidly on the vodka category, with the focus on Absolut and twisting the pre-conception that vodka is a ‘dying category’. He talks about the iconic Pornstar Martini and Cosmopolitan whilst giving his own views on how vodka can be best utilised in any bar through some simple changes.

Of course, no day of learning would be complete without a tipple of Mumm Champagne, with Matthias Lataille guiding you through the brand as you finish off the BEAT Society experience.

If you’re anything like me, having the opportunity to listen to one iconic figure in the industry is amazing, but to have seven in one room, offering their slant on their chosen category, is beyond an experience. Get yourselves signed up to Newcastle and Liverpool, immerse within the BEAT and take it all in.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Homegrown Talent Wins Olmeca’s Tahona Society Cocktail Competition

Olmeca Tequila Announces the 2013 Winners of The Tahona Society Cocktail Competition

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 or contact Olmeca brand advocacy manager, Alexander Gorokhovsky at


Olmeca Tasting Notes


After showcasing tequila recently, I’ve been waiting to try out one that has caught my eye in more the bottle than anything. Once you realise the brand, and the logo, you can understand the link – its name? Olmeca.

Olmeca is produced at Destileria Colonial de Jalisco in the town of Arandas, Jalisco in Western Mexico which incidentally is 2104 metres above sea level. Operation at the plant is overseen by Maestro Tequilero Jesús Hernández and as the Master Distiller he is responsible for supervising the hand-selected blue agave picked after 7–8 years of growth. Once harvested, traditional brick ovens are then used to slow cook the piñas. Part of the production process at Olmeca involves using the 500-year-old traditional and artisanal Tahona method, which consists of a 2 tonne millstone made of volcanic rock, known locally as Tezontle. Once the Agave piñas have been harvested and cooked, they are crushed by the Tahona, creating a pulp and drawing out the juice from the fibres. This juice is referred to as Tahona Liquid, of which a percentage is integrated into the fermentation and distillation process of all Olmeca Tequilas, with Olmeca Tezón exclusively containing 100% Tahona Liquid.

So a rather unique and traditional method to create the range of Olmeca, but how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Olmeca Altos – 38%

Lots of fruit and herbs on the nose with citrus following closely. Smooth beginning on the palate that develops into a well-balanced citrus led flavour with hints of wood smoke and a long subtle spice offering.

A great sipping tequila, but if this tickles your fancy, then be my guest –

Tequila Con Sangrita
Tequila Con Sangrita

Tequila Con Sangrita

Glass – 

Tequila in a stem glass, Sangrita in a side shot glass

Ingredients – 

50 ml Olmeca Altos
750 ml Tomato juice
100 ml Fresh orange juice
100 ml Fresh lemon juice
25 ml Tabasco

Method – 

Combine all the ingredients, except for the tequila, in a blender and blend until frothy. Cover and refrigerate for the flavors to marry. To serve, pour the sangrita into stemmed glasses. Pour the tequila into shot glasses.

A cheeky little variation to drinking it neat. There are many other variations within the Olmeca brand, including a Reposado and the Tezón range mentioned above. A great addition to any bar or drinks cabinet.

Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Day of the Dead with Olmeca

Check out the following for some ghoulish fun this halloween involving Olmeca tequila!

Let’s face it – Halloween’s for kids. So this autumn, get on board with the Mexican fever that’s sweeping the UK and celebrate Mexico’s big national holiday, Day of the Dead, with some Latin cocktails from award-winning Tequila, Olmeca Altos. Day of the Dead is one of the biggest dates in the Mexican calendar and is becoming increasingly popular all over the world. To celebrate, Olmeca Altos is linking up with popular Mexican street food chain, Wahaca to host a four-day festival of music, food, art and film at The Old Vic Tunnels in London from 31st October to the 3rd November. Olmeca Altos bartenders will be on hand every night serving delicious Day of the Deadinspired cocktails, so if you haven’t tried Tequila for a while, head down to the Old VicTunnels and sip on an Altos Paloma or give the Altos Mexican Mule a go. Tickets are available from the Old Vic website so snap them up now while you can! If you’re feeling adventurous and fancy being the first of your friends to throw a Day of the Dead party, here’s a selection of easy recipes from Olmeca Altos to help you create some delicious, authentic and colourful cocktails to ensure your Day of the Dead celebrations trump the kids’ Halloween party next door.

Tommy’s Margarita

Tommy’s Margarita

35ml Altos Blanco Tequila
25ml Freshly squeezed lime juice
10ml Agave syrup

Garnish – Lime wheel + jasmine flower


35ml Altos Blanco Tequila
15ml Fresh lime juice
1 pinch of sea salt
Top up with grapefruit soda

Glass – Highball, on the rocks

Garnish – Lime wedge

Jasmine Margarita Punch (serve 2)

35ml Altos Blanco
25ml Freshly squeezed lime juice
10ml Agave syrup
150ml Freshly brewed Jasmine tea


Wine glass, on the rocks


Lime wheel/ jasmine flower