By Ben Eisenstein (Published in the December 2010 issue)
Photo by Brevin Blach
(Published in the December 2010 issue)
An ornate but otherwise unassuming bottle of Tequila Reserva 1800 Colleción Anejo sits on a shelf high above the bar at Stadium Sports Bar & Restaurant in Encinitas . With its warm amber color, the mighty elixir is worth its weight in gold-and at $250 per one-ounce shot, it costs nearly as much.
Despite the economy, Stadium co-owner Brandon Gonzales has already made his money back on his investment-and then some. More than half of the 25-shot, 750ml bottle, which he purchased for $1,300 from New York-based importer Proximo Spirits earlier this fall, has been sipped down by customers with discerning tastes.
"Don't you dare take a shot in front of me. That's sacrilegious," Gonzales says. "And no limes and salt, please. This is no college-party shot. Slow down and savor."
The Tequila's high price-point stems from the time and resources that go into its manufacturing process. According to Proximo Spirits, the 1800 brand (1800 is the year in which tequila was first aged in wood) is wholly made from blue agave plants of the high desert in Jalisco, Mexico. Plants used specifically for the 1800 Colección take a full decade to ripen and become ready for harvest.
Once the agave is harvested, local workers (jimadors) rid the plant of its thorny façade to expose the heart (piña) which is then stone-oven steamed and mill-pressed over several days, creating a fermented and double-distilled agave juice. Standard practice calls for aged (añejo) tequilas to sit for a year. In the case of 1800 Colección, the agave juice rests in French oak barrels for several years before the bottling process begins.
"The bottle itself is incredible," says Gonzales of the three-dimensional work of art. Indeed, noted Mexican artists are commissioned to create the pewter-and-glass decanters that richly compliment each release of 1800 Colección. Even empty bottles sell for $500 or more on eBay.
Gonzalez was confident that investing in the pricey bottle would be a worthwhile risk, figuring his patrons with more refined palates (and wallets, no doubt) would appreciate a dark amber drink that replaces the typical tequila burn with a bourbon-esque vanilla flavor, deep oak aroma and smooth, well-rounded finish.
So who buys these swanky shots? Gonzales says the average profile is usually a group of friends looking to share a new experience-and the cost.
"A lot of the people like to go out on the patio and have a cigar paired with some fine tequila," Gonzales says. Just don't spill your drink on the way outside. No free refills on this baby. Salud!
$250 Retail price per shot of Tequila Reserva 1800 Colleción Anejo
25 Number of one-ounce shots per 750ml bottle.
1,152 Number of miles between San Diego and Tequila, Mexico-headquarters of the world's Tequila production.
70 Number of different Tequilas on the menu at Stadium Sports Bar. Owner Brandon Gonzales swears he's tried them all.
100 The weight, in pounds, of a larger-sized piña (heart of the agave plant), or twice the size of washed-up reality TV star, Tila Tequila.
Stadium Sports Bar & Restaurant stadiumsandiego.com
149 S. El Camino Real, Encinitas