My Personal Tequila Journey
I have felt a particular passion for tequila throughout my life as a chef. That passion grew even deeper in the 1990s, when I helped Seagram create the world’s most extensive education program on tequila for mixologists, chefs, restaurateurs, and food writers. When I opened Rivera in January 2009, I had the rare opportunity to gain an even more intimate connection to tequila when I leased and planted my own rancho of blue agave in Mexico’s Tequila region, which will be yielding our first bottled expression of tequila blanco in 2016.
Several years before Rivera opened, after two years of personally exploring the Tequila region, I secured the complete but very limited output of extra-añejo tequila from a small private distiller in the town of Arandas, in the highlands of Jalisco state. Bottled in French crystal decanters with a state-of-the-art Italian stopper topped with the Rivera “R” logo carved in solid mahogany, that rare tequila is now available exclusively at the restaurant, showcased under lock and key in a private members-only display wall designed by Eddie Sotto in our Sangre Room.
The Hallucination Begins
What is The Hallucination? In ways both small and large, real and imagined, it is a personal celebration of tequila I share with you, starting in the summer of 2012.
The Hallucination begins with a special menu at Rivera. Just as food-and-wine pairings traditionally focus on the synergy between particular dishes and vintages, so does this menu pair six special courses made with tequila and custom tequila cocktails created through my collaboration with some of L.A.’s top mixologists, including our own Julian Cox and Jeremy Lake. (I’ve also created my own fresh, vibrant tequila cocktail, Cielo Verde, featuring herbs, vegetables, and fruits harvested from the new rooftop aeroponic garden at our sister restaurant, Playa.) As the name The Hallucination implies, the menu may well expand your consciousness.
The Hallucination Continues…
My shared celebration of tequila will not end there. A symposium on tequila is planned featuring guest speakers from the culinary, wine-and-spirit, and academic worlds. Other events will follow, leading up to a tour of the Tequila region in Mexico’s Jalisco state, featuring visits to boutique distilleries and to my blue agave farm.