Tequila Avión in Miami: The cocktail crawl with an elevated spirit

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Tequila Avión in Miami: The cocktail crawl with an elevated spirit

October 25th, 2010 12:20 pm ET

To celebrate its early Florida release, Founder Ken Austin hosted a tequila crawl on South Beach last week and spoke about how Tequila Avión came to be. “I wanted to create a tequila my wife could drink,” he said. “Most people had a bad experience with tequila early on, and now there’s this disconnection with the spirit.”

Looking to redeem a spirit that is often (and mistakenly) slighted, Austin discovered his answer in the mountainous regions of Jalisco where conditions encourage sugar production in blue agave plants, the base for all tequilas. Using these succulent leaves as its base, Avión requires slow-roasting to coax out and caramelize agave’s sugars then insists on 10 filtration cycles to maximize purity.

With Avión’s three expression, Silver, Reposado and Añejo, in tow, the crawl began at Nobu.

Warmup at Nobu
While the bartenders at Nobu were mixing, there was an opportunity to taste Avión Silver in its pure state. Featuring lemongrass and citrus, this smooth silver began with sweetness. Although a slightly sour note in the middle discouraged straight sipping, its medium body and clean, grapefruit finish promised plenty of cocktail possibilities.

With the tequila tasted, Nobu served up two fresh fruit cocktails: passionfruit and kiwi. While the passionfruit variation highlighted the tequila’s grapefruit notes, its strong tart finish meant it would be at its best when paired with spicy or tangy appetizers. Its kiwi counterpart, however, stood on its own. Beautifully refreshing, this cocktail was lush, juicy and satisfying. Its ability to hold up to ice made it perfect for lounging about the Shore Club.

Punch at Prime Italian
Settling into the bar at Prime Italian, tasting portions of Avión Reposado made their way to the table. Rested in whiskey casks for six months, this golden tequila featured caramel notes, a sweet open and subtly spicy finish. Without an alcoholic burn, this darling lent itself well to bar manager Micheal Parish’s beautiful punch creations.

“Modern punch is taking a hold on bottle service,” Mike explained. Far from the spiked bowl of sherbet foam at a 50s junior high social, these elegant punchs were light, well-balanced and worthy of great glassware. The reposado mixed with Aperol (an herbal orange liqueur), pineapple-soaked agave and chipotle puree stole this cocktailian’s heart. With herbal warmth, subtle spice and a light, fresh finish, this darling could pair with Middle Eastern or Indian food to incite fall-off-your-chair deliciousness.

Avión Añejo at the Clevelander
The LA Sunrise was a fair take on the Margarita (although fresh orange juice could have made it take off), the añejo tasting stole the show. Aged for a full two years in whiskey casks, its initial sweetness gave way to intense rich caramel and wood that bloomed into a honey finish. For bourbon or scotch drinkers in the mood for something different, pour this into a brandy snifter for a perfect sipping companion.

Finale at the W
Gabriel Orta of Bar Lab brought the night home with two beautiful drinks. Featuring pomegranate molasses and cucumber puree, the W Essential offered a sophisticated, Middle Eastern take on the beaten-to-death Long Island Ice Tea. Balancing spice and sweet citrus, the Hot Mess incorporated lime, Heering Cherry Liqueur, Sriracha pepper and passionfruit. Swept clean by a citrus finish, the spice worked to maximize refreshment not to start a fire in your mouth. If you have shied away from the new breed of spicy cocktails, this drink is the perfect introduction.

 

At the W hotel, Gabriel Orta expertly balanced spice and sweetness with an ultra-refreshing sipper.

Credit: Daso Design

The Take-Away
What was most notable about all three expressions was not so much what they had but what they lacked: a strong alcohol burn and that off-putting, diesal-agave note that causes “tequila shudders.” For those of you who axed tequila long ago, try again but this time with an ultra-smooth brand and a mixologist you trust. You may never sip tequila straight, but in the hands of great bartender, why would you want to?

Go have a tequila adventure, Cocktailian!

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Images are courtesy of Daso Design.

At the W hotel, Gabriel Orta expertly balanced spice and sweetness with an ultra-refreshing sipper.

Credit: Daso Design

 

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