Have a Baja Moment! Tequila Tasting in Los Cabos
Despite an explosion of world-class wines in recent years from Mexico’s best viticultural area, Valle de Guadalupe near Ensenada, and an ongoing craft beer boom spearheaded by talented brewmasters in the border city of Tijuana, tequila remains the most popular and celebrated alcoholic drink for visitors to Baja California. Made from blue agave nourished in the blue volcanic soils of the mainland state of Jalisco, the country’s signature distilled spirit has launched a thousand cocktails, including popular umbrella garnished quaffs like margaritas, palomas and tequila sunrises. But it’s at its best straight up, with all of its personality on display. And whether you prefer the freshness and elemental force of blanco-style tequilas, or the smoothness and complexity of barrel-aged treasures in the reposado, añejo or muy añejo styles, Baja, and Los Cabos in particular, boasts a number of great showcases for this uniquely Mexican spirit.
Pancho’s is located in the heart of downtown Cabo San Lucas, and this lively and colorful cantina serves up a host of great regional Mexican specialty dishes, as well as excellent array of mesquite grilled meats and seafood. But what truly sets this place apart is an unmatched collection of tequilas. Pancho’s claims to have the largest such collection in the world, and regardless of whether this boast is true – and I suspect that it is – visitors can spend the better part of a two week vacation sampling the rare and wonderful liquid delights on tap, which include over 500 separate tequila and mezcal labels from the Mexican mainland.
Restaurateur and chef Tadd Chapman is responsible for two of San Jose del Cabo’s best restaurants: Don Sanchez and Habanero’s Gastro Grill. But fine food is only part of the allure at these benchmark eateries. Don Sanchez has one of the most impressive wine collections in all of Baja – take-out sales are available from the onsite wine store, with sommeliers on hand to provide expert guidance – and Habanero’s has a well-earned reputation as a mecca for seasoned tequila tasters. And while Habanero’s shelves may not hold quite as many bottles as those at Pancho’s, the top shelf options are every bit as impressive, with over 120 premium labels represented.
It’s easy to rave about Drew Deckman’s cooking. The Michelin star winning chef and slow food guru may be the most creative culinary crafstman in Baja, reinventing his menu on a daily basis to show off only the freshest local and seasonal ingredients. Luckily for aficionados of fermented and distilled beverages, Deckman is also dedicated to providing spectacular pairing options. In addition to a superb wine list headlined by honest, terroir-driven Mexican wines, and a delicious witbier made in partnership with Tijuana craft beer specialist Agua Mala, Deckman’s also offers potent pours from top tequila producers, and one of the region’s best collections of artisanal mezcals.
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