Bartenders from across the country have fine-tuned their best tequila cocktails and submitted them to The Tahona Society. They’ve taken those cocktails and gone head-to-head with fellow bartenders in Austin, Los Angeles and New York, all with the hope of emerging victorious and earning a free ticket to Los Altos, Mexico.
But Los Altos isn’t just where the Tahona Society competition finals will be taking place. In the state of Jalisco and 7,000 feet above sea level, it’s where Altos Tequila was born.
Dre Masso had just opened a Mexican cantina in London with Henry Besant, and the two of them were taking frequent trips to Mexico to gain a better understanding of tequila and the culture surrounding it. That’s where they met distiller Jesus Hernandez, who immediately caught their attention. “We were impressed with his setup and passion for making quality tequila with real integrity,” says Masso.
Their conversations about tequila continued, progressing until they decided to create a new brand—“a high-quality tequila that respected traditional techniques,” says Masso. A lot of people give lip service to old-school or traditional methods, but Masso and Hernandez actually use a tahona wheel, a 500-year-old tool used for crushing agave and extracting its juices. Adding a giant volcanic millstone to the production process isn’t exactly cost-effective or efficient, but Masso believes it’s “expressed in the character of the distilled spirit.”
Best of all, Altos’ eccentric perfectionism doesn’t make the price skyrocket. The super-premium tequila is offered at an accessible price—something even more rare than a tahona wheel.
This would be enough for most people. The group had created a delicious, affordable and authentic brand of tequila. That’s no easy feat, but Masso and Besant felt compelled to educate others and share their deep appreciation of tequila. That all led to the formation of The Tahona Society.
“The Tahona Society covered the history and production of tequila and Mexican spirits, plus the culture that comes with it,” says Masso. A cocktail competition was added to the mix, and now The Tahona Society is getting ready to welcome some of the best bartenders in the world for the finals.
The competition isn’t a one-way street. The people at Altos will share considerable knowledge and expertise with the bartenders. Masso says it’s also an opportunity for him to “learn and discover more wonderful ways in which the tequila can be used.”
Masso isn’t just a spectator at this gathering of bartenders though. He’ll be judging the finals too.
The winner of The Tahona Society will become the Altos Global Ambassador for a year, traveling across the world advocating for the brand. In addition to impressive technique and taste, Masso will be paying attention to how the finalists interact with the other bartenders, since the winner will be representing the brand. How the finalists speak about Altos is almost is important as how they mix with it.
The bartenders traveling to the Tahona Society finals should remember one thing: It’s going to take someone as passionate about tequila as Dre Masso to win.