For many of us, tequila is probably one of the first spirits we tried when we came of drinking age. A staple of college campuses and the base of popular cocktails like margaritas and palomas, tequila has a storied history that dates back centuries, to when the first large-scale distillery was built in the town of Tequila, in Jalisco, Mexico, during the 1600s.
Casa Dragones Tequila, a relatively new Mexican small-batch producer specializing in sipping tequilas, has quickly made a name for itself as it ushers the spirit into the modern age. Its focus is on the experience of taste, in which each sip brings forth a new understanding of the agave plant, the base ingredient in tequila, and the soil from which it grows.
“We founded the company in 2008 with a mission of being as curious as possible and as innovative as possible with our own ways of working to expand the tequila repertoire, and to really bring and showcase tequila in a very different light,” says Bertha González Nieves, co-founder of Casa Dragones and the first woman to be named Maestra Tequilera by the Academia Mexicana de Catadores de Tequila. “We believe that tequila adorers and spirit drinkers today are more curious than ever before. People are into exploring whiskies or single malts or tequilas or mezcals. We think that today, the consumer really has a repertoire, and they pride themselves in showcasing their knowledge of a category. And we believe that we are very unique and very rebellious in our approach.”
That approach is rooted in the meticulous handcrafting of each bottle, which begins with hand-harvested agave, grown in the rich soil of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, that has been matured for seven to nine years. The water, which comes from Tequila Volcano, is processed in Casa Dragones’ modern water treatment facility, which allows for the extraction of the right mineral profile to harmonize with its tequilas.
The producer has brought to market three styles of tequila: Casa Dragones Blanco, a 100% pure blue agave silver tequila that can be enjoyed on the rocks or in signature craft cocktails; Casa Dragones Joven, a blend of 100% blue agave silver and extra-aged tequila rested in American oak barrels for five years; and the recently debuted Casa Dragones “blue label” Añejo Barrel Blend, which is aged in two different custom-made oak barrels—the wood is sourced from the Bordeaux region of France, and from Pennsylvania and Missouri.
The Barrel Blend is an exceptionally smooth sipping tequila with a stunning clarity, not unlike a Chardonnay. It has notes of nutmeg, macadamia and blackberry up front and a long, round finish, with notes of cacao and black pepper lingering on the palate.
“What we’re trying to do in this tequila is let the product invite you to really sip and savor what we’re all about,” Nieves says. “We want our products to actually sing in your palate and invite you to try and go on this journey of taste. That’s the complexity and balance that we’re trying to accomplish as producers.”
The Watermelon Margarita
Available at Encore Beach Club throughout the summer
• 1 1/2 oz. Casa Dragones Blanco Tequila
• 1 1/2 oz. fresh watermelon juice
• 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
• 1/4 oz. Cointreau
• 1/4 oz agave
Method: Rim a glass with salt. Shake ingredients with ice, then carefully pour into the glass. Garnish and serve over ice.