A decade ago, Tanteo Tequila—an 85 proof blanco—began a series of cocktail contests out of its former office in Soho in Lower Manhattan. Distilled, infused and bottled in Juanacatlán, Mexico, Tanteo reigns as the only distillery owned by its co-op of 85 agave farmers, jimadors, and distillery workers, a majority of whom are women. Known as Destiladora Juanacatlán, they grow, chop, cook, distill, bottle, label, and otherwise run the business, achieving, in the end, a truly handmade artisanal product.
The company’s annual Mexican Standoff, marking last weekend’s Day of the Dead celebrations, became virtual this year, and featured eight top bartenders from around the country. Each received a $250 shift check for their efforts in creating a cocktail with Tanteo and a surprise ingredient—this year, antioxidant-rich tiger nuts. (What’s a tiger nut, you ask? An ancient commodity, touted as the next new superfood, and key to making horchata, it’s actually a tuber, with an appearance like a dried garbanzo bean and a taste like chalky almonds. Challenging as an ingredient? For sure!)
The winner ended up to be Shy West, a bartender at White Rabbit Bar (Gilbert, AZ), with her spellbinding cocktail, The Voodoo Chili Blues. (Follow her on Instagram at @shy.westxx) An otherworldly blend of Tanteo’s Habanero expression, Belle Paire Liqueur, Honey Nut Falernum, and more, served in a Sumac and Roasted Tiger Nut Blend-rimmed glass, her concoction embodies the just-turned 21-year-old’s self-proclaimed passion for “making bizarre creations” that inspire “people to appreciate flavor profiles and spirits they never would have thought they could enjoy before.”
Try this at home:
THE VOODOO CHILI BLUES
1 oz Tanteo Habanero
1 oz Tanteo Blanco
.75 oz Belle Paire Liqueur
.25 oz Ginger Honey Tiger Nut Falernum
1 Barspoon of Citric Acid Simple
Pinch of Salt
Rim: Sumac and Roasted Tiger Nut Blend
Combine all ingredients in a beaker; fill with ice. Stir vigorously, then double-strain into the rimmed glass over ice. Garnish with a dehydrated apple and cherry.