Tequila Tour Day 1: Traveling to Guadalajara

About 10 days before Sunday, January 14, 2007, Julio Bermejo came down to Apple to have lunch and pick up an iPod; nothing out of the ordinary about that. While visiting, he invited me to go on a Tequila tour of Jalisco, Mexico with a small group of Tequila masters and enthusiasts. This is truly an honor as as Julio is neither a tour guide, nor are the trips something that can be asked for. Julio invites only those people that he thinks will appreciate an intimate education in the making and history of Tequila and who will ask the kinds of intelligent questions at the distilleries.

I am really quite deeply pleased that Julio felt I was the right kind of person to go on this trip! I know I’m going to learn a ton and I have a slew of questions related to the farming and genetics of Agave that should be appropriate. Hopefully, I’ll even get to do some field work!

Awesome. Even more amazing was that I was able to take the time off and find reasonably priced tickets with such short notice. I am normally a light traveler, but not this time. I tossed clothes into two suitcases with a goal of packing them with tequila bottles wrapped in clothes for the return trip.

The rest of the crew arrived in Guadalajara on Sunday morning, fresh off a red-eye out of Oaklnad. I flew out of San Jose and arrived at about 1:30pm. Oddly, this was the second flight in a row that involved an in flight “medical incident”. A woman sat next to me mid-flight who was clearly in some pain and a bit agitated. She was incapable of dealing with the exit row requirements and was moved back shortly before landing. We hit a patch of turbulence about 40 minutes before landing and she immediately required oxygen. Upon landing, the rest of us were “expedited” out of the plane (onto the middle of the tarmac sort of near the airport) so the emergency crew could carry her out. Whee.

Julio’s driver, Estabon, picked me up and I met the crew in Tlaquepaque for, what else, some Tequila and a bit of shopping.

Picked up my first bottle of Tequila, too. A dusty bottle of 1994 Puro Sangre Anejo 3 year. (Out of stock from that site. List price of $199?!?!?! I got it for a little under $70.)

Liquor Store in Guadalajara

From Tlaquepaque, we headed to a restaurant called Karne Garibaldi. They have exactly one item on the menu — meat in broth — and you can have either the small, medium, or large plate. It was served with beans, salsa, hot peppers, avocado, grilled onions, and fresh tortillas. Karne Garibaldi is also in the Guiness Book of World Records for fastest service time. It took 45 seconds from order to having an awesome plate of food in front of us.

We then hit an awesome– the largest, I think– liquor store in Guadalajara (La Playa liquor store at Avenida Mexico), pictured at left, before hopping in the bus and heading to Arandas. After checking in to the Hotel Santa Barbera, we piled back into the van and headed to the last night of the town’s annual fair.

What a blast. It was like the state fairs I went to as a kid. Only with much better food and without the sterilization through rules that we find so often in the US these days.

Meat Pit at Arandas Fair

We boat a bunch of random grilled meat products from what I named the Meat Pit of Doom. It was a large brick walled pit with several good sized logs burning in the middle. Around the outside were long iron rods onto which big chunks of meat were skewered.

We had a couple of kinds of sausage, rabbit, and — of course! — pork.

After dinner, we wandered around a bit. Ben headed off to find the cock fights. He did, but he said that it was rather disappointing. The two roosters preferred to mostly sit around and try to ignore each other.

Bumper Cars
Bumper Car Self Portrait

Some of us wandered off to the bumper cars. What a blast! Notice that there are no railings around the bumper car “arena” which resulted in a fair bit of chaos before, after and sometimes during a run. I took a boatload of pictures while driving, hoping some would turn out. Beyond the fact that an oversized, very blond, laughing American had come to their central Mexico town, that I also had a camera and was taking pictures while driving a bumper car provided quite a bit of entertainment for the locals. Which, of course, made me a target for all cars. Excellent.

As I discovered last time, central Mexico and the people of Arandas, in particular, is a wonderful place. The people are friendly, sharing information and culture freely. The food is excellent, focused on fresh with simple recipes designed to accentuate the qualities of the ingredients.

Then, back to the hotel to get a few hours of sleep before visiting three distilleries on Monday.

6 Responses to “Tequila Tour Day 1: Traveling to Guadalajara”

  1. David Herren says:

    If the above comment is real, I’m hesitant to post any lighthearted….

    I spent several months in Guadalajara in 2006 and had a blast. I know that liquor store quite well and spent a fair amount of time in Tlaquepaque as well. Amazing food everywhere in Jalisco…

    Enjoy the distilleries. I made it only to the Cuervo distillery, which despite that shite they sell in the US under the name José Cuervo, actually produce some very fine tequilas indeed. IF you can get your hands on a bottle of the family reserve from Cuervo, it’s definitely worth it.

    We look forward to being back in Guadalajara summer of 2008 again. Ah, Jalisco…

  2. el peregringo says:

    bbum in Guadalajara

    My friend Bill Bumgarner, aka, Dr. Bill for his Doctorate in Tequila, is off to Guadalajara to keep his knowledge fresh… So far he’s only got day 1 online, but I look forward to reading the rest of his report. My family spent the summer in …

  3. cynthia says:

    OK we just arrived in Guadalajara and went walking around our hotel looking for a liquor store, there seems to be a real shotage in our area. Where is this “largest liquor store?” i’d hate to have to restort to going to walmart!!

  4. Bon says:

    Trying to find out where we can buy “Chocolate, Chocolate Cream 18% only thing on the bottle is that and Jalisco, Guadalajara a friend brought some back from a Vacation in Mexico we thought it might have tequila in it. any thing would greatly help thank you Bon

  5. Jodie says:

    wow. It sounds like an amazing trip. I too would be interested in finding information on this “largest liquor store in Guadalajara.” Could you possibly let me know its name/location? I would be quite interested in stopping by that store.

  6. Joel - Flying to Guadalajara says:

    Love the Tequila Tour. It’s a really fun thing to do while visiting the Guadalajara. area

    Like Jodie I’d love to get the specifics on the “largest liquor store in Guadalajara.” name/location? Gracias!

    A little bit about my story, I retired early to Lake Chapala, Mexico 7 years ago, and checked out of the rat race forever.

    Now, I live in the world’s best weather (according to National Geographic) on Lake Chapala, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.

    I am so glad I did what I did and have not looked back.

    Happily Retired in Ajijic, Mexico,

    Joel Smith
    Casa Preciosa, Ajijic, Mexico

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