A farmer harvests the pina from the blue agave plant, weighing up to 70 kilograms.
Photo courtesy of Rock-It Promotions.
Have you ever thought about tequila farming? Neither had Tromba Tequila founder Eric Brass until he noticed a huge gap in the tequila market. A Canadian who worked in asset management, he was tired of paying cheap prices for cheap tasting tequila or ridiculous prices for okay tasting tequila. He wanted more. He partnered with a few people including Marco Cedano, one of Mexico’s most well known master distillers famous for crafting Don Julio, to create pure 100 per cent blue agave tequila. It is available in multiple bars across the city, including Ossington’s famous tequila bar Reposado, where we had a Tromba tasting last night.
We arrived to freshly made paloma cocktails, a traditional Mexican drink made of lime, kosher salt and grapefruit soda. As Australian Tromba mixologist Simon Hooper pointed out, margaritas are not the drink of Mexico contrary to popular belief, but rather the delicious paloma. Delicious it was. I confess I normally scrape the salt from margarita rims, but when absorbed into the paloma the salt added a pleasant dimension.
Premium tequila is one of the fastest growing liquor sectors and the top growing subsector in Canada. Global tequila sales have hit a record high, according to research conducted by Just-Drinks/IWSR. Already, Tromba is gaining market share as far as Australia and is one of the top selling premium tequilas in Ontario. It is available at the LCBO for $49.95 a bottle. Unlike many new liquor companies that target the consumer, Tromba has taken another approach: the bartender. By promoting their tequilas to bartenders they hope the bartenders will promote the tequilas to consumers. So far, the method is working.
While we sipped blanco tequila and the more expensive Reposado, aged in oak barrels, Brass walked us through the history of tequila. Here’s what I learned:
- Tequila does not come from cacti, but rather the blue agave plant, also known as the dessert lily
- Pure tequila should be 100 per cent blue agave with no additives
- Agave plants take seven to 10 years to mature. They’re massive and weigh up to 70 kilograms.
- Tequila comes from the agave’s pina, which is hand farmed, then steamed to extract the juice known as mosto. Mosto is fermented and combined with yeast according to the master distiller’s specification.
- It’s distilled twice, converting the sugars to blanco tequila. It can be rested and aged in oak barrels to add and alter the flavour
- Tequila can only be called tequila if it comes from certain parts of Mexico, just like how Champagne can only be called Champagne if its from the province in France
- Climate and location plays a role in flavour. Tromba’s tequila is highland, lending itself to a lighter, citrusy taste
If I had to compare it to tequila I already know, I would liken it to Patron. Both have pleasant tastes that don’t require salt or citrus to lighten the blow. However, I also learned that it is taboo in Mexico to take shots of tequila and that good tequila should be sipped alongside a cold beer or sangrita.
2 oz Tequila Tromba
Squeeze of lime
Pinch of kosher salt
Build over ice
600 ml tomato juice
300 ml orange juice
100 ml lime juice
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
15 dashes of hot sauce
Editor’s note: This sangrita was so good I drank it like juice.
750 ml pineapple juice
Juice from one fresh squeezed lime juice
1 large handful of cilantro (stems and leaves, no roots)
1 large handful of mint (stems and leaves, not roots)
1/2-1 jalapeno peppers (depends on where you source them)
First put cilantro, mint and jalapeno into the blender with the pineapple juice and lime juice.
Blend all ingredients.
Balance out the sweetness/acidity and heat.
Blend all ingredients again until mixed and then double strain into your glass bottle.
Always keep your verdita refrigerated in between uses.
Blood Orange Margarita
1.5 oz Tequila Tromba
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz Simple Syrup
.5 oz blood orange drizzled on top
Editor’s Note: Blood orange is in season right now. The Tromba team recommended checking out Kensington market or juicing it yourself.
Sheena Lyonnais is Toronto Standard’s Tech and Business Editor. You can follow her on Twitter at @SheenaLyonnais.