Behind the Bar Stick People

Follow 38 Top Bartenders on a Legendary Trip to Tequila Paradise

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Reinventing the Horseshoe Margarita is a daunting task. Any bartender, no matter how experienced and skilled, would struggle to create a fresh and original cocktail that remains true to the classic recipe.

Still, hundreds of bartenders from every corner of the country submitted their take for the Tequila Herradura Legends competition. They tinkered with recipes and traveled across state lines to compete against other tequila-obsessed bartenders.

The competitors all had the same goal: winning the trip of a lifetime to the tequila capital of the world, Jalisco. It would give bartenders the chance to experience Guadalajara, Casa Herradura and other top destinations, all courtesy of the one and only Tequila Herradura.

Thirty-eight bartenders were chosen as winners. The group recently returned from a trip to Mexico, all agreeing that the experience surpassed even their loftiest expectations. Wish you were there? Check out these highlights, and it’ll feel like you were.

  • Hello, Tequila Herradura

    The trip began with complimentary cocktails and hor d'oeuvres at the hotel in Guadalajara. The winning bartenders—including Detroit’s Joel Barron and Drew Pompa (above, from left)—got to know each other and also meet the Tequila Herradura team.

  • Appealing to Every Sense

    Following the welcome reception, the 2018 Legends went to a three-story mansion turned hotel for a full sensory experience and incredible dinner. One notable aspect was a scent bar, where the bartenders could use their mixology skills to create an aroma unique to each of them. Above, Chicago’s Lance Bowman and Julianna Arquilla sample the scents.

  • A Lesson from the Master

    Tequila Herradura global brand ambassador Ruben Aceves (above right) was in the house to lead an exclusive and immersive tequila tasting. Even though the bartenders had already shown their Herradura know-how, all 38 learned something new from Aceves.

  • All Aboard the Tequila Herradura Express

    The second day of the trip began with the bartenders taking the Herradura Express from Guadalajara to Amatitán, home of Casa Herradura. How many other brands can claim their own train line?

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  • Tequila Goes Well with Train Rides

    Why wait until getting to Casa Herradura to enjoy a tequila cocktail? The 2018 legends sipped light craft cocktails while taking in the views of Jalisco.

  • Stepping Inside Casa Herradura

    Casa Herradura is the last true tequila-producing hacienda on the planet. And the winners of Tequila Herradura Legends had the chance to go on an exclusive tour given by Tequila Herradura national brand ambassador Holden Ching.

  • Anyone Ask for Agave?

    The 2018 Legends got an up-close look at where Tequila Herradura’s agave is grown, picked, chopped, cooked and distilled. Above, Melina Meza of Los Angeles poses with the agave.

  • Legendary Cocktails Have Style and Substance

    The bartenders rotated between touring Casa Herradura and attending a short workshop on professional cocktail styling, where the 2018 Legends recreated their winning recipes. Above, San Francisco’s Jeannie Grant readies her Margarita del Mar for its photo opp.

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  • Don’t Experience the Hacienda on an Empty Stomach

    The 2018 Legends ate as well as they drank. The bartenders were treated to a fresh and authentic Mexican lunch, followed by a lavish six-course dinner. Naturally, tequila cocktails were flowing alongside the mouthwatering dishes.

  • The Experience Hits Another High Note

    Once the plates were cleared, the 2018 legends took to the dance floor. It was the perfect, liveliest way to cap an unforgettable day in tequila paradise.

  • Another Kind of Craftsmanship

    Tequila isn’t the only artfully crafted export from Jalisco. The 2018 Legends started the third and final day of the trip with a glass blowing experience in Tonala, Jalisco. It was a chance for the bartenders to appreciate another art form, one with a history and tradition as rich as tequila making.

  • More Food. More Tequila.

    The next stop was Tlaquepaque, a city that’s becoming a hotbed for tourism in Mexico where legends were given free time to explore the town before meeting back up with the group for lunch. For many, this dining experience was a favorite based on the beautiful décor, live music and a large variety of endless food and drink options.

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  • Always a Good Time to Celebrate Día de los Muertos

    What better way to send off the 2018 Legends than with a night out in Guadalajara at a Día de los Muertos theme park filled with amazing Mexican food, face painting, interactive games, live shows and Tequila Herradura cocktails? The group spent a majority of its time in an exclusive Tequila Herradura VIP lounge, where the night concluded with a tequila toast to all for the trip of a lifetime. Until next year. ¡Salud!