Lovelies! I have a new someone in my life to introduce you to…one of my three brother’s, JD! I’m so excited to invite him to my yummy space for a few reasons. Though 6 years apart, we have an incredible amount of lifestyle commonalties. Most awesome is his ultra adventurous spirit, unafraid mojo and zest for globetrotting. He and his young wife have fallen in love with the friendly skies and have traveled out of the country 8 times since they married, just two years ago. Of all the places he’s gone to, Mexico is his playground. He’s taken to their culture, cuisine, history and most of all their tequila. In a short amount of time, he’s become a quite a hoarder of all things tequila and mezcal, but his favorite of the plethora is Don Julio. This guy has taught me some key notes I was clueless on.
One of the priceless benefits of having relocated back to DC is having any one of my siblings clutch my arm as my date to foodie events in the city. When I was invited to the private Casa Don Julio event last November, I didn’t blink to ask Jay if he wanted to go.
The evening was over-the-top gorgeous, extravagant, sexy and wildly delicious. At least the private dinner portion. I’ll let him tell you about our evening in Georgetown.
And, this is the 1st installment in a series of posts and stories I’ll be sharing on Mexican living and dining between now and the end of March. We’ll go from Playa del Carmen and Mazatlán to Mexico City… all three cities which I’ve recently visited while exploring their distinct beauty and admirable cuisine styles.
Would love you to say hola to my brother! He’ll be joining me here and there, writing about the cocktail scene in DC, offering his review of spirits tasting, and on occasion will share his international jaunts. B-
By Jonathan David
¡VIVA MEXICO! Is the first thing that comes to mind before cracking open a bottle of tequila. Made from the earths beautiful agave tequilana or blue agave, as most of us know it, tequila comes from Jalisco, Mexico. This is where a young boy by the name of Don Julio González-Frausto Estrada started distilling his first tequila in 1942 at the age of only 17. His skills matured as the years went on and he finally established enough clout where anyone who tasted his tequila wanted more. It wasn’t until his 60th birthday when his sons commemorated all his achievements, did his brand become the ubiquitous Don Julio tequila. Since then, Don Julio has become one of the most prestigious tequila brands throughout Mexico and the United States.
I’ve had the opportunity to sample over 100 tequilas during my hops to Mexico. My go-to? Don Julio. My sister can validate this. I’m a bottle collector always relishing in the perfect reason to pour. Blanco for ‘ritas, añejo to sip and when I’m feeling like something special, I’ll shell out the bucks for a bottle of 1942 extra añejo.
So, imagine getting invited to an exclusive Don Julio dinner where this sweet nectar was going to highlight the space. A dream come true. Really. My sis invites me to quite a bit of her foodie events, but this one was tailor-made for me. I’ve had a lot of tequila, but an evening to wine and dine with all things Don Julio, with no end? Yes, this was going to be special.
The event, dubbed a tasting, was more of a decked, well thought out 3-course paring at MalMaison in Georgetown’s swanky waterfront. Class, elegance, and attention to detail was evident from the minute we pulled up. The rustic Georgetown building was transformed into a small and quaint Mexican village. Paper banderas hanging in the air, soft candelabras glowing and succulents mirroring agave plants all contributed to creating a real small village vibe.
Once in MalMaison, the atmosphere continued with candle lit tables and branded oak barrels as the step and repeat background. You could just feel it. TEQUILA was in the air! Guests hovered around the two bars set to the right of the main area and below in the loung-y space and enjoyed a sip from every one of DJ’s goodies during the warm reception. I’d estimate a combined 180 bottles of Blanco, Añejo, Don Julio 70, 1942 and the top of the line, Don Julio Real, were offered.
(picture of a picture of Bren and me at the barrel step and repeat)
The night started with a signature welcome ponche de la casa created by master mixologist Andy Seymour. It was that drink you don’t see creeping up on you as you ignore the sweet notes and vibrant color. Small canapés were passed to appease our palates until the 40 or so guests arrived.
We took our unassigned seats, prepared our palates and started the festivities. In front of each setting stood a generous sample of each of featured spirits. A well-designed menu noted characteristics of each label. Brand ambassador Manuel Aczualdez introduced himself and promised an evening of decadent and tasty history. He articulately shared his knowledge and passion for tequila. That guy has that job!
We sipped and looked for the notes each glass filled. We took our time but the anxiety to move on to the next glass was alive and well at our table. My sis to my left was taking more time as she thoroughly enjoyed the 42. I know she’s not a huge hard liquor kind of girl, but her reaction was par for the exquisiteness of the bottle.
(Top & bottom: Table setting;Tasting setting before meal; both via Bren’s Instagram)
The tastings only invited a healthy appetite. Local chef and season 8 Next Food Network Star finalist, Malcom Mitchell, prepared a dinner replete with tequila infusions. Our 1st course was a simple hamachi crudo followed by añejo glazed braised short ribs with Manchego polenta on the side. This dish spoke to me. The balance of sweet and savory with a touch of smoke was perfect.
Dessert was a rich Mexican-style bread pudding drunken in one of the tequila’s and paired with a hot chocolate margarita. It was so heavy in alcohol there was no other place to go than the dance floor.
(Clockwise: Chef Malcom, braised short ribs; bread pudding; hamachi crudo. Images courtesy of Don Julio)
Don Julio really showed us how to get down. The tables were cleared, doors opened to the general public, and the music started pumpin’. DJ Ruckus with special guest Rev Run (yes from the vintage original rap group Run DMC) spun the hottest mix of old and new school. Classy ladies, bespoke fellas and happy servers danced their way around, no one missing a tequila drink.
Even the major’s son, my sis’s college friend, was making the PC rounds with 42 in his hand. I stuck to Real all night.
I caught sis on a soft drink I’m almost certain she had the bartender specially shake up for her. We danced and toasted….
(L to R, clockwise: Diners during private sit down; Bar staging, Rev Run and Bren; oak barrel staging; Bren, Carlos Gray & Cheeky)
It is noted that Don Julio knows how to throw a sexy party. It was a work night and I was clueless. Not because I was punch drunk, rather because the energy was festive, vibrant, sultry, and laid back — exactly how I enjoy spending my vacation in Mexico. My sister finally pulled me out the man cave and called it a night.
Tequila my friend, you will forever be a part of me and as long as you are, Don Julio will be your name. ¡Tu casa es mi casa!
Try out this recipe for the punch we started off with. Please drink responsibly.
(Image courtesy of Don Julio)
PUNCH DE LA CASA
- 3 1/3 bottles Tequila Don Julio 70 Añejo
- 1/3 liter Mezcal (Del Maguey Santo Domingo or Vida recommended)
- 3 cups Strong Black Tea
- 1 1/2 liters Water
- 12 dashes Aromatic Bitters (Angostura Bitters recommended)
- 5 cups Fresh Grapefruit Juice
- 3 cups Clementine or Tangerine Juice
- 2 cups Fresh Lemon Juice
- 8 ounces Agave Nectar (or to taste)
*Peels of 4 lemons, 4 grapefruits muddled with 2 cups of sugar
Combine all ingredients in a large punch bowl over a large block of ice. Stir ingredients and serve.
Yields 60 servings, no individual drink contains more than .6 fluid ounces of alcohol.