Guest Judge Carlos Santana Awards Mixologists J.R. Starkus and Dimitri Sequeira Top Honors at Casa Noble “Noble Places” Specialty Tequila Cocktail Competition
Casa Noble, a boutique tequila distillery with one of the finest ultra-premium spirits portfolios in the world, hosted the finals of its “Noble Places” Specialty Cocktail Competition at House of Blues Las Vegas on November 9 where a distinguished panel of judges including musician Carlos Santana, Casa Noble CEO Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo, Eddie Perales from Foundation Room LV, and HOB Las Vegas GM Andrew Economon awarded top honors to Las Vegas’ J.R. Starkus of RM Seafood for his “Welcome to Casa” cocktail and Miami’s Dimitri Sequeira of El Vato’s for his “El Vato” cocktail. Starkus’ and Sequeira’s creations competed against Casa Noble-inspired libations from mixologists from ten cities nationwide, including Ally Widlak from Tahona (Boulder, CO), Joseph Valdovinos from Roxanne’s (Los Angeles), Vincent Michael Cluke from Untitled 111 (Chicago), Josh Wortman from Añejo (NYC), Darren Crawford from Tony Nik’s (San Francisco), Chris Jamison from Lolita’s (Boston), Hernan Cubillos from Jorge’s (Dallas) and Tyler J. French from The Lion’s Share (San Diego).
To qualify for the competition, mixologists were required to concoct recipes using no more than five ingredients, including a Casa Noble Añejo, Crystal, or Reposado tequila. The two drinks rated highest by the judges were announced by Carlos Santana; they will become official Casa Noble cocktails renamed “Supernatural Margarita” and “El Beso Margarita” and will be served at the House of Blues Las Vegas in honor of Santana’s current residency at the venue.
“It is an honor to be around people with a passion for exploration, flavor, and good taste,” says Carlos Santana. “I look for people and things that complement any environment and create a synthesis that changes your molecular structure.”
J.R. Starkus, who resides in Las Vegas and can be found creating and mixing cocktails at the renowned RM Seafood in Mandalay Bay, took home top honors with his “Welcome to Casa” which will now be called “Supernatural Margarita.” “My inspiration was the Mexican lifestyle – very warm, friendly, family-oriented, and welcoming. I wanted it to be a cocktail that I could see someone handing to me as I walked into their home for the first time,” said Starkus.
Dimitri Sequeira, whose cocktail “El Vato” will now be called “El Beso Margarita,” is known for his use of fresh fruit in cocktails and is a huge Casa Noble fan. “When I was first introduced to Casa Noble, I knew it was a winner. Everything about them inspired me to start working with it in cocktails,” said Sequeira. Dimitri currently works at El Vato Tequila and Taco Bar in Miami where his drink, “Rosarita” – made with fresh strawberries, fresh lime juice, agave and Casa Noble Crystal – is the venue’s best-seller.
The top-rated recipes:
J.R. Starkus, RM Seafood, Las Vegas
“Welcome to Casa” (Now officially called “Supernatural Margarita”)
- 1 1/2 oz Casa Noble Reposado
- 3/4 oz lime juice
- 1 oz Monin Spicy Mango Syrup
- 2 dashes of Grapefruit Bitters
- 4-6 basil Leaves
Shaken in a shaker Tin, Double Strained / Placed in a rocks glass and topped with a Basil Leaf
Dimitri Sequeira, El Vato, Miami
“El Vato” (Now officially called “El Beso”)
- 2oz. Casa Noble Crystal
- 1/2 oz Liquor 43
- 1oz lime juice
- 3/4oz Agave Nectar
- 1/4oz cut orange squeeze and drop
- 8oz ice shake well
Serve in 12 oz Pilsner Glass
Via its website, blog and social media, Casa Noble launched the Noble Places program earlier this year to spotlight select venues in 15 cities throughout the U.S. that feature custom Casa Noble cocktails created by outstanding craft cocktail makers. Regional panels of judges picked finalists from ten of those markets to compete on November 9: Boston, MA; Boulder, CO; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Long Beach, CA; Miami, FL; New York, NY; San Diego, CA; and San Francisco, CA.
About Casa Noble
A renowned boutique distillery, Casa Noble represents the pride, passion, and quality commitment of more than 200 years and more than seven generations of tequila production. The Casa Noble family of Single Estate Organic tequilas — Crystal, Reposado, and Añejo — has a rich history that has earned them a position as one of the finest ultra premium spirits portfolios in the world. Casa Noble’s handcrafted tequilas are exported to over 23 countries worldwide and are currently available in premium retail outlets, exclusive restaurants, distinguished bars and lounges and destination hotels nationwide in the U.S. The tequila is harvested, distilled and bottled on the private family estate that boasts over 6,500 acres of land and more than one million blue agave plants.
Carlos Santana and J.R. Starkus at Casa Noble “Noble Places” Speciailty Tequila Cocktail Competition
© Erik Kabik/ erikkabik.com