Countless bars in Mexico claim to serve the country’s best tequila, but for a single place with the most luxurious tequila experiences, Four Seasons Punta Mita is your spirited ground zero.
“People travelling here want to taste real tequila, so we’ve created a lot of opportunities for them to do so,” says Alfredo Sanchez, the tequila barista who established the Four Seasons bar program, and now pours Mexico’s national spirit at the Four Seasons Dallas. Sanchez, incidentally, has traveled the world to personally train Four Seasons mixologists as far as Hong Kong, so that guests everywhere benefit from the expertise of a certified Tequila Expert, certified by the Mexican Academy of Tequila in Mexico City.
Guests can discover many different tequilas during their stay and experience many ways to get to the heart of each. – Alfredo Sanchez
Tequila barista Monica De La Torre now oversees Four Seasons Punta Mita’s vast collection of tequila — nearly 200 varieties — plus an impressive selection of mescal, a smoky spirit distilled from the agave plant that is to tequila what Armagnac is to Cognac. Why offer such a huge variety?
The true beauty of tequila lies in its spellbinding complexity, from the citrus and herbal freshness it displays in its youth to the intoxicating depth in its plenitude. – Monica De La Torre, Four Seasons Punta Mita
While most guests consider themselves lucky to sip tequila shots or flights on the resort grounds, an extreme experience is offered for guests wanting to indulge in the ultimate tequila excursion. For US$25,000, Four Seasons Punta Mita will fly four guests by private helicopter to the 250-year-old Jose Cuervo distillery in the charming “magic town” of Tequila, Mexico, surrounded by the sprawling blue agave fields that gave birth to the tequila spirit.
Rightly so, the region is now designated a UNESCO world heritage site – after all, tequila is the national drink and one of its most popular exports. After landing, an expert sommelier takes guests behind the scenes for an exclusive tour, and demonstrates the tequila-making process from start to finish. A Four Seasons chef (who comes along for the ride) then prepares a three-course gourmet lunch, while local musicians serenade and tequila is poured. Before the helicopter whisks imbibers back to the resort, they make a visit to the reserve vault (or “cava”) for a taste of Jose Cuervo’s top-of-the-line aged tequila served straight from the barrel. Afraid to drink and fly? Extravagant tequila expeditioners who’d rather take the slow road can instead be chauffeured to and from the distillery in an air-conditioned car.
Resort wanting a less indulgent but very special souvenir to take home can book the resort’s new tequila tasting and blending program. For US$150, tequila aficionados can to create their own unique customized blend with the help of the resort’s Cultural Concierge. Enrique Alejos first leads a guided tasting to identify the flavors and aromas of various barrel-aged tequilas. Guests then sample all the varieties before choosing their four favorites, and balancing them to taste in order to create a unique blend of their very own. The one-of-a-kind result is placed in a handmade Damajuana bottle and sealed with wax. A leather label is signed, numbered, and registered in the logbook of Casa San Matias Tequila Factory.
Other resort opportunities for tastings include cooking classes that pair tequila with traditional Mexican dishes; and tours of nearby distilleries in the Punta Mita/Puerto Vallarta area. The area’s wealth of distilleries is evidence that Alejos, Sanchez, De La Torre, aren’t the only Punta Mita locals who are passionate about this country’s national spirit.
“The industry is very warm and welcoming and producers are happy to share their traditions. It’s part of our Latin flavor.”
After all the spirit education and personal experience that Four Seasons Punta Mita provides, margarita lovers often find themselves craving new ways to shake up their tequila cocktail options. Torres and her bar staff are trained to do a bit of molecular mixology but they prefer to bring out tequila’s surprising subtleties by using traditional Mexican ingredients in un-traditional ways. For a start, they recommend leaving the usual salt and lime slices aside. Instead, they recommend premium tequila shots chased with orange and grapefruit wedges, chili powder-dusted pineapple, thick chunks of dark chocolate, or red and green sangrita (a non-alcoholic accompaniment that highlights tequila’s crisp acidity and cleanses the palate between each peppery sip). The resort’s baristas may twirl a cocktail glass of tequila rimmed with house-made chamoy, a fruity sweet-and-sour candy traditionally used to familiarize youngsters to the taste of chili. Or they may throw caution to the wind and fire up a Cuban cigar to compliment the smoky flavor of extra-aged XO Mexican spirits.
“Each unlocks another expression of tequila and is another way to enjoy it,” says Sanchez, who is the first to admit that not everything goes well with tequila. “Your best bets for a satisfying tequila experience are food pairings of ceviche and chocolate cake.”
Though the property features several bars, your best bet for the most complete bar lounge on the grounds of Four Seasons Punta Mita, is the Aramara Bar, located just off the main entrance to Aramara restaurant. Aramara Bar features a lounge area, exotic menu and live music six nights a week. In case you reach your tequila saturation point, the bar serves original cocktails created with fresh herbal infusions, complemented by a selection of premium beverages, including Japanese and Mexican beers, sake, Shoju, signature teas, Asian-spiced coffees and 40 wines by the glass. A sommelier is also on duty to present a wide selection of Mexican wines to pair with dinner courses.
“We pride in showing our guests the local experience throughout their stay,” says Torres. “We advise them to let themselves be guided through our extensive tequila and Mexican artisanal spirits selection by our expert bar’s staff, from sampling a tequila flight while the sun sets in paradise to having an amazing dinner by our talented chefs paired with premium Mexican wine and spirits.”
By Vicki Arkoff