Don Julio, Mexico’s most popular ultra-premium tequila, is turning 70. To celebrate, master distiller Enrique de Colsa created a spirit the world has never seen—añejo claro. As the name suggests, the aged añejo’s smoothness and complexity are brightened by the crisp agave notes and silver color of blanco, reclaimed through custom filtration.
Unexpected pairings defined the launch party for Tequila Don Julio 70 at Nove Italiano on September 14. Tequila drinks are typically paired with Mexican dishes, but Don Julio broke the mold and the mind-set with Nove executive chef Geno Bernardo and N9ne Group booze alchemist Jack “Sugar” O’Brien.
On the plate, the experience ranged from a Beausoleil oyster and gazpacho shooter to lobster and uni risotto and razor-thin carne carpaccio with anchovy and blood orange. In the glass, Don Julio’s spectrum was showcased in tastings of straight añejo claro as well as an añejo Manhattan with chocolate bitters and pepper-infused reposado with Cointreau and purees of mango and passion fruit, demonstrating two things: 1. Tequila is versatile. 2. Sugar makes a mean drink.
One of his meanest is the Banana Bread, a very sweet, very cold, original concoction. The base spirit is Don Julio Blanco rested with dried banana chips and allspice pods for a month before being strained. Mixed with sugar and served over generous ice, the drink electrifies the palate even at the end of a feast.
“I believe it was Julia Child who said, ‘If you wouldn’t drink a wine, don’t cook with it.’ And I believe it was the Most Interesting Man in the World who said, ‘I don’t always drink tequila, but when I do I prefer Don Julio,’” Sugar says of the brand’s appeal. “Enrique loved the Banana Bread so much he took a bottle with him. Probably the best praise I could have gotten.”