It was quickly apparent that a pre-event shower was overkill; sweat could soon be felt running down our backs and along our hairlines. It was only 6:30 and the patio outside El Portal was packed. People held plates, piling them high with treats from the generous buffet of appetitzers—tasty empanadas, meatballs, tacos, smoked salmon, churros, and pizza. Mariachi Tenochtitlan serenaded the crowd. Eventually, once our stomachs were full (well, no, maybe just one more smoked salmon with red onions and capers on toast), we felt prepped to dive into the crux of the evening—taste testing tequilas.
Don Julio, Epsilon, Casa Noble, Luna Malvada, Bridon, Maestro Dobel, and Clase Azul. Whether we were tasting añejo, reposado, or plata tequilas, the flavors ran from peppery to caramel (which could be followed by a slice of orange sprinkled with cinnamon), from an aftertaste of red wine to a whisper of scotch, and from tequilas that slid-like-silk down our throats to others that made a grab at ‘cha and held on. The distinct character of each was all the more readily apparent from tasting them in succession.
Richard Avila, distiller at Bridon spoke about how they aged their tequila in red wine and scotch barrels. They also blow all their own bottles, sandblast their Bridon (a Mexican-bred war horse) label onto the front of their bottles, and make their own corks. “Come down and see us sometime,” he offered, and we calculated if this coming weekend would be too soon.
El Portal owner Abel Ramirez and his son Armando were their usual animated and affable selves, and as we left—the night still young, our brains swimming with 100% agave—the patio still hummed.
Naptime came a little earlier than usual this evening (straight through until the 6:30 a.m. alarm).
Did you attend El Portal’s annual tequila tasting? Have any fun pictures or stories you’d like to share? Email Kat Ward at kat@hometown-pasadena(dot)com.