Hornitos Plata and Hornitos Reposado

hornitos reposado and plata

Over half a century ago on Mexican Independence Day (September 16), Don Francisco Javier Sauza (yeah that same Sauza), created Hornitos tequila, an aromatic 100% blue agave experience that’s sweet and calming with a little bit of bite.

Hornitos Plata. This is Hornitos’ unaged tequila (“plata” is Spanish for silver). Plata has never made contact with wood barrels, so it’s a clear tequila. Because of its young age, Plata is more of an herbal and floral experience in the smell and taste. This is agave at its purest: very sweet, crisp and clean.

Hornitos Reposado. This “rested” tequila has an aromatic rush of blue agave, unexpected and exciting. The sting in the air that is immediately present in the nose of other tequilas is non-existent here. Instead, a sweet, calming waft of blue agave gets your attention. The flavor is mellow and very smooth, with a bit of welcome spice. Not a tequila I would associate with taking shots, Hornitos Reposado is smooth enough to sip, and enjoy the warmth in your chest of a nice, aged tequila.

Hornitos Reposado will run you $25 and Hornitos Plata, $20. The flavors of both are subtle, and though they’d be fine cocktail tequilas, I will likely enjoy Hornitos Reposado more often as a sipping tequila. The Plata is a little more floral and herbal than I’d prefer.

Tales of the Cocktail 2015 Recap

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For the first time ever, Lisa and I went to Tales of the Cocktail! Tales is the world’s premiere cocktail event – about 20,000 people head to New Orleans for the week-long annual show in July. Attendees are usually bartenders, writers, liquor brand reps, craft cocktail enthusiasts, public relations folks, marketing people, “founders” of the craft cocktail movement – even restaurateurs or hospitality folks.

Though we had a good idea of what to expect from the event from the schedule we’d received, it’s hard to summarize the vibe of Tales until you’re in the midst of it. For 5 days, we learned, partied, ate, and drank our way through the conference, and here’s what I thought of the experience:

My Favorite Parts

  • Because we were podcasting daily from the show, we had a great excuse to talk to some of the biggest names in cocktails, like Dale Degroff, David Wondrich, and Chris McMillian. They couldn’t have been kinder to us.
  • It was great connecting with other liquor writers, many who I admire very much, like Leslie Jacobs Solmonson of 12 Bottle BarCocktail Whisperer Warren Bobrow, Bit by a Fox’s Prairie Rose, Camper English, Fred Minnick, and Natalie from Beautiful Booze.
  • I had a great time working together with Lisa and discovering New Orleans with her as first-time visitors. If we met you at Tales, I’m sure you’ll agree that Lisa is much more fun to hang out with than me.
  • Interviews that were unforseeably and awesomely well-timed. We talked to Ivy Mix, who won “American Bartender of the Year” at Saturday night’s Spirited Awards, and we interviewed Sean Kenyon, whose bar in Denver won “Best American Cocktail Bar” (Kenyon himself won Best Bartender last year, too).

My Biggest Surprises

  • The brands go all out at Tales. We ate multiple several-hundred-dollar lunches and dinners, and attended lavish parties with all-star bartenders at every station.
  • Everyone was so friendly. At the events, dinners, and luncheons we attended, people were happy and easy to talk to. I’m sure the cocktails helped.
  • You can’t drink everything. This may sound obvious, but with multiple tastings, seminars (which include cocktails), and events, you will be tempted (like I was) to say “Chris McMillian made me this cocktail, of course I’m going to drink it all!” The problem is, these sorts of amazing cocktail moments happen probably a dozen times a day, and will put you over the top if you don’t take it slow.
  • The seminar speakers were really knowledgeable and interesting (we attended sessions with Dale, Camper, and Darcy O’Neil).

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Who I Missed

  • Lisa asked me who I’d have liked to talk to that I didn’t see. Gary Regan, Dan Dunn and Kate Gerwin come to mind, but we met nearly everyone we wanted to meet. Plus we were both bummed that our friend Geoff from Drink Spirits couldn’t make it to Tales this year.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Sometimes, multiple seminars we wanted to go to were happening at the same time (there were usually 5-6 concurrent seminars). Of course, this is a testament to the sheer volume of content at Tales.
  • The heat. Yeah, it was New Orleans in July….but it was still HOT.

What I’ll do at Tales 2016

  • Store up my energy (late afternoon naps?) to go to more of the 10 pm “portfolio parties.”
  • Bring a lot more money (and a separate, empty, suitcase) for books.
  • Squeeze in even more seminars.
  • Attend the Spirited Awards.

Tales Podcast 4- 7/19/15

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In our fourth and final podcast episode from Tales of the Cocktail 2015, we interview Sean Kenyon (owner of the Best American Cocktail Bar 2015), Alex Stein of Monkey 47 Gin, Natalie from Beautiful Booze, Brian Weber from Bartender Journey, Darren Geraghty, and Neal from Cure.

Download Episode 4.

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Tales Podcast 3- 7/18/15

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Greg and Lisa podcast from Tales of the Cocktail 2015! In this episode, we interview Camper English, Tanya Cohn, Ivy Mix, Dale Degroff, Prairie Rose, and Philip Dobard. WHAT A DAY!

Download Episode 3.

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Tales Podcast 2- 7/17/15

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Greg and Lisa podcast from Tales of the Cocktail 2015! Interviews include Ted Breaux, Derrick Schommer, and Andrew Marin, plus we do a little bit of the “usual” New Orleans stuff!

Download Episode 2.

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Tales Podcast 1- 7/16/15

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Greg and Lisa podcast from Tales of the Cocktail 2015! Interviews include Erick Castro, Chris McMillian, David Wondrich, Warren Bobrow, Konrad Kantor, and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson.

Download Episode 1.

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Book Review: The Seeker’s Guide to Bartending

seekers guide to bartending

“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” -St. Francis de Sales

This is one of many quotes that begins each chapter of Jennifer Crilley’s 2014 book The Seeker’s Guide to Bartending. The Seeker’s Guide is similar to the “For Dummies” series, acknowledging that readers have basic bartending skills and are working towards their goal of being a bartender.

An easy read, The Seeker’s Guide incorporates Crilley’s personal stories of challenges, joys, and spiritual growth as a bartender. It’s helpful to know that the book was written by someone who has spent twelve years tending bar.

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The book is very relatable, and each short chapter is filled with personal insights, fun facts, illustrations, simple tips, scientific facts, and perspective shifts. To top it all off, a related activity is placed at the end of each chapter for the readers application. You’ll find everything from insight into how to be a better bartender to overcoming fear, controlling emotions and interacting with customers, to managing tip expectations and money management.

The Seeker’s Guide to Bartending could really be called New Age Bartending based on the content – Crilley writes from personal experience with the clear intention of sharing this knowledge with hopeful bartenders. This is a great read for the up-and-coming bartender. Buy The Seeker’s Guide to Bartending here.

Editor’s note: this is the first post by our new team member Andrew Moore. Welcome to Simple Cocktails, Andrew!

Grey Goose Vodka

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Grey Goose fights a tough fight on a regular basis. For something legally defined as tasteless and odorless, there is a wide variety that you find in vodkas. Most people can tell the difference between a “cheap” gas-station vodka and a “premium” vodka, and the manufacturers of both work hard to make their clear substance stand out from the competition.

At $35-40 a bottle, Grey Goose is arguably the most recognizable premium vodka brand. It’s certainly got a great flavor, and with Lisa being my best vodka taster (since she has a better palate for it), Grey Goose is one of her favorites. There’s a natural, subtle sweetness in Grey Goose that comes from the French wheat that’s used in it’s distillate, like a touch of vanilla and almond. You’ll also find it still retains a touch of the familiar “burn” that you’ve experienced with other vodkas, too.

Le Melon is the newest of the Grey Goose flavors, made from French Cavaillon melons. By the flavor, a cavaillon is a close relative to the cantaloupe, though we found the flavor to be something like a cantaloupe and watermelon mix. Grey Goose’s flavors is something that the company does best – sticking with traditional vodka flavors like citrus and vanilla, and as far as I can tell, taking care not to sweeten these flavors (they remain at 40% abv). They’re quality enough and are perfectly pleasant to sip neat or on the rocks.

Vodka is a polarizing substance in the world of craft cocktails. Heck Death & Co. released a cocktail book without a single vodka cocktail in it. Regardless of that, there is certainly a place for premium vodkas in the market, and Grey Goose continues to solidify their role with quality products at a reasonable – though premium – price.

We recently tasted Grey Goose and Le Melon on the Simple Cocktails Podcast. Click here to listen.

Podcast 52- Grey Goose and Sazerac

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A Tarantino kick and a nod to his cocktail selection. Beer pops? We taste Grey Goose. Lisa introduces “spiky” as a tasting word. “Did they invent the melon?” We taste Grey Goose Le Melon. Greg attempts to establish himself as “cool” ….and fails. “Is there voodoo involved?” Greg screamed like a young girl. “Where’s your dusty old books?” We make a Sazerac. “I’m so excited to have one in New Orleans.”

Download Episode 52.

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