A Truly Spirited Evening

From Judi Laing

OK, we know The Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC) and Pacific Food & Beverage Museum throw terrific dinners and events here in SoCal – Southern California for the ‘unenlightened’ - but this tequila/Mexican food pairing dinner was especially wonderful. Jimmy Shaw, Founder & Executive Chef of Lotería Grill in Hollywood, put together a mouthwatering menu that we enjoyed over the course of several happy hours of eating and sipping a variety of tequilas. To help us with our education in agave spirits, Chantal Martineau, author of How the Gringos Stole Tequila: The Modern Age of Mexico's Most Traditional Spirit, engaged us with stories of her times in Mexico and, most importantly, about the history of how ‘gringos stole tequila!'

‘Stealing’ is a little bit of a misnomer because, in this case, it was a good thing for the tequila business, as it became the go-to party booze for Americans consumers. Tequila goes way back...it was first imported to the US in 1885. There doesn’t appear to be any written history as to when tequila first hit college fraternities and general drinking-til-drunk, however. That harsh, mask-it-with-tons-of-fruit-juice tequila is quite a different spirit from the premium brands we drink today. Thank you, Chantal, for guiding us through these tequilas – two different single estate expressions of Tequila Ocho, Olmeco Altos – and El Silencio mezcal. What’s not to love?! 

And because it was Day of the Dead, it wouldn’t have been a party without traditional sugar skull face painting, courtesy of Los Angeles artist Vienna To, whose artistry enhanced our faces and thus contributed to the general revelry. To finish off the evening, Jimmy Shaw brought out a singular bottle of Herradura from a cask especially chosen by Jimmy for the restaurant. Yes, it was excellent. 'Twas the perfect end to a delicious evening!

Thank you to Philip Dobard, Vice President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation, who always puts together the best events for both Angelenos and visitors to Los Angeles. Many thanks to Josh Hodas for the photos on this page, and to Bino Gopal for the thumbnail image!