Juan Garcia is a tequilier at Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos with the extraordinary role of teaching his guests to properly enjoy tequila.
Considered an expert in his field, Garcia is passionate about sharing his love and knowledge of the topic with everyone he meets. He spends his days taking guests on a virtual journey through the process of how tequila is made and the correct ways to consume it. Check out what Garcia told Chilled about tequila on National Tequila Day, July 24th, 2017.
Talk to us about being a “tequilier” in Los Cabos?
The process to go about becoming a tequilier is one where you, as an individual, must become certified as an expert in tequila. When my journey began in the hospitality industry, people would ask me about the types of tequila. This is what sparked my interest in becoming a tequilier. I took emersion courses led by Jaime Villalobos, the president of the “Tequila Culture and Training Chambers” held in Los Cabos and Tequila, Jalisco, and learned about every aspect about tequila, including the ins and outs of the workings behind it. I can truly say that becoming a tequilier in Los Cabos is an amazing experience because it is such an important part of the Mexican culture. Teaching guests gives me something to be truly proud of.
Share a bit about your background in the industry. How did you become passionate about tequila?
My career began in the hospitality industry 10 years ago when I moved to Los Cabos. I gradually worked my way up from a busser to a server to a sommelier. I became passionate about tequila in seeing how interested the guest were about it, but also because I wanted to share part of my heritage with them. Once I began working at Hyatt Ziva, the company sent me to the state of Jalisco to receive my certification in becoming a tequila expert. The opportunity allowed me to follow my passion.
What are some of the most important facts you teach drinkers about tequila?
The most important fact for a tequila drinker to know is what tequila is. People need to understand that the only place that tequila is produced is in specific states within Mexico. There is a difference between tequila and 100% agave, and that difference being that tequila can be made from different types of sugars, while 100% agave can only be made from the sugars of the agave plant. Another thing to note is the proof of the liquor does not always matter, some tequilas can be 100% proof and still be poor quality.
The second most important thing to note is the aging time that is needed to make the different types of tequila. Tequila must age for a maximum of two months to create a white tequila, also known as blanco, and age a minimum of two months for tequila reposado. To create a tequila añejo, it must age for the minimum of a year and for a tequila extra añejo, it must age for more than three years.
What should bartenders know about tequila?
An important thing that bartenders should know about tequila is understanding the differing flavor profiles tequilas can have. Depending on where the agave used to produce the tequila is grown, it gives it a different taste. If the agave is grown in the highlands of Jalisco, the soil usually produces a sweeter agave. When it is produced in the Tequila Valley, it tends to produce a less sweet agave with more mineral flavors. In knowing the flavor profiles of the tequila, it is easier to determine what a certain customer’s palette may favor.
Something that Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos prides itself on is that we require not only for the bartenders to have knowledge about tequila and other spirits, but the servers as well. Many people want to be informed about tequila especially when coming to Mexico, and it is our job as professionals to provide our guests with all the information necessary. While tequila is made in Mexico, it’s exported to countries around the world. My job allows me to provide our guests with the knowledge to take their experience home with them.
Tequila is becoming big in the premium spirits category. Talk to us about tequila’s new image.
Tequila is gaining momentum in the spirits world. One of the main factors behind this is linked to the fact that the United States is one of the spirit’s main consumers and has redefined how the brands are focusing in the market. I can say that the success of each brand is created in the market they target to, and it is important that the tequila industry not forget the history behind tequila or where it has come from. Many think that the most expensive and well-known brands are the best tequila but this is simply not true. It is simply the quality of the product that is created and a good quality tequila or mezcal can be created at any level in the aging process.
What do you see for the future of tequila?
I see three different paths for the future of the tequila industry, one being that the major corporations continue to buy the smaller brands. I see tequila being made in Mexico, but not by Mexican brand owners. Large global companies and celebrities like Adam Levine are embracing tequila, this approach will only help foster the growth of the tequila industry. I can see how the world will continually gain more knowledge and understanding of the Mexican culture through tequila.