Casa Noble’s is throwing a party at Gravier St Social. Eight hours of invite-only tequila tasting, featuring their family beer Modelo. (Constellation Brands owns Modelo, Corona, Pacifico, several wine vineyards, and a couple of premium liquor brands. They acquired Casa Noble in 2014.)
Casa Noble is a relatively young brand, 20 years old, but extremely ambitious. Small batch, organic tequila that refuses to rush the process.
The event strikes a great balance of upbeat atmosphere, live music, and plentiful drink options. The staff greets guests with “cooling towels” chilled with ice and fresh cucumber as we step in from the relentless NOLA summer. The first thing we see when we walk in? A wooden bar, erected for the event, full of tequila and beer. Behind it, a shelf made of Modelo barrels, housing bottles of all five Casa Nobles.
The bartender quickly pours shots and beers for me. “You need to try them all, he insists.” Here we go.
The room represents Casa Noble and Tales well—A mix of locals and guests from around the country and the world, mostly bartenders. Media scurries around the room, fighting the dim lighting as they take pictures and videos for their social media posts.
A brunette circles the room, plucking a few lucky VIPs to usher to a back room for a private tasting.
Jose Hermosillo is hosting the private tasting himself. Hermosillo, who founded Casa Noble and is the maestro tequilero, introduces himself with his much longer Spanish name effortlessly. “Call me ‘Pepe,’” he says, to a sigh of relief. He pours his five tequilas carefully and proudly, explaining each. “I grew up with tequila, practically in a distillery.”
The high altitude where he grows blue agave brings a unique flavor to his tequilas. Each one is carefully crafted to bring out different aroma and flavor profiles. He presses the agave with a screw mill rather than crushing it. The gentle press removes bitterness.
- CN Crystal is clear and smooth, like citrus fruit sweetened with honey. Unlike most blanco tequilas, it’s distilled three times.
- CN Reposado is easy to love for anyone who likes vanilla. Pepe ages it in French white oak barrels for 364 days to bring out a pleasant bouquet, like flowers growing on an oak tree.
- CN Joven, at 102 proof, is an explosion of earthy, flora, and tropical fruit notes. A limited run that doesn’t compete with the other four but still mixes well.
- CN Añejo sits in the same oak barrels for two years. It’s like dessert yet not sweet: Chocolate, almond, hazelnut, orange peel. Delicious. I want to pour it in iced coffee.
- CN Extra Añejo Tequila is arguably Pepe’s masterpiece. Seven generations of family experience. Aged in a single barrel, he only crafts 300 bottles of it a year. They’re individually numbered and bear his signature. It’s a better version of the Añejo and still as smooth.
“Patience in every step, starting with the agave” is Pepe’s philosophy.
Stepping out of the VIP room, one can’t help but pass Gravier St Social’s usual bar, which has been stocked with tequila, beer, and mixer options.
“Would you like to mix a cocktail or beertail for us?” a smiling blonde asks me.
How could I refuse? At this point I’ve had several shots of tequila (sipped), so I decide to be gentle for the benefit of everyone involved.
Casa Noble Crystal. Fresh grapefruit juice to enliven. A touch of muddled cilantro to freshen. A few drops of agave syrup to sweeten. Lots of ice.
She asks if she can take a picture and save the recipe in a book Casa Noble is compiling.
Once the Polaroid develops is attached to the handwritten recipe, she has one last request. “It needs a name.”
With no hesitation, I answer, “The Noble Social.”
Andrew Marin writes about cocktails and food for Where Y’at Magazine, and he is working Tales of the Cocktail (talesofthecocktail.com) this year. Follow him @ndrewmarin on Twitter and Instagram, and add andrewmarin on Snapchat for live updates.