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Good Spirited Sips: How 818 Tequila Has Perfected the Art of Earth-Friendly Cocktails

Sourcing from mature agaves and aging in oak barrels, 818 has mastered slowing down and savoring every step of the spirit-making process. Operations Director David Yan Gonzalez brings us behind the scenes of the brand.

Published on: March 29, 2024
Espresso martini and a bottle of 818 tequila

At 1 Hotels, we’re always excited to partner with brands that are constantly shaking things up in their industries and championing our collective mission to safeguard the planet. One of those brands is 818 Tequila, a spirit that sits at the center of our Earth Month cocktail classes.

Through its commitment to honor the planet and its people, 818 hand-sources mature agave plants (over seven years old), cooks them in brick ovens, ages their blends in oak barrels, and savors every step of the process. In line with this ethos, their distillery runs on biomass and solar power, and they partner with Jalisco nonprofit S.A.C.R.E.D. to reduce waste by transforming agave byproducts into adobe bricks.

We spoke with 818 Tequila’s Operations Director, David Yan Gonzalez, to dive deeper into their sustainable processes and explore the ways 818 continues to help us raise the bar through our mindful beverage programs. Join us across our properties this Earth Month to shake up delicious zero-waste cocktails and experience just how dynamic and adaptable 818 Tequila is.

INTERVIEW WITH 818 TEQUILA’S OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, DAVID YAN GONZALEZ
 


Can you tell us about your background and what inspired the journey to becoming a Tequila Operations Director?

My tequila journey started almost by accident. My formative years included extensive preparation in Sensorial Evaluation for marketing research, and we had several tequila clients. A former college classmate founded a tequila brand that became my home, doing sales, education, and eventually participating in aging, blending, and production. More than 25 years working in the tequila industry, and having the rare privilege to do so on both the production and sales/education side, provided me with the experience for my current role at 818 Tequila.

Interacting with consumers and production teams is an incredibly valuable and enriching combination that helps me understand expectations and connect them to new experiences, and 818 provided a unique opportunity to add extra creativity into the mix.


What goes into the lifecycle of producing a tequila, and what’s your favorite part?

Agave-based spirits, tequila among them, have been produced for over four centuries now, and the base material, the agave itself, remains its most critical element.

Our distillery is located in Amatitan, Jalisco, surrounded by millions of agave plants. We select only agaves that have reached full maturity. First, we cook the agaves by steaming them in stone ovens, which allows us to create a taste with a firm agave character without bitter elements. Our tahona wheel extraction process provides a clean definition by squeezing the fibers instead of crushing them to extract the juices that will be fermented. We then ferment the agave fibers in wood tanks lined with stainless steel, and use fibers from the tahona to inoculate it with native airborne yeasts, yielding a rich, aromatic must.

After fermentation, we move to distillation and blending, my two favorite components. We use 100% copper alembic pot stills and rectifiers in our distillation process. Then, all of our 818 Tequila expressions spend time inside barrels, even our Blanco! We are one of few brands that use French and American oak barrels to mature tequila, and our Reposado, Añejo, and Eight Reserve expressions are all precise, careful blends of both barrel types, with our goal being a softer tequila. Every batch of 818 Tequila is tasted and approved by the same person – me!

Similar to 1 Hotels, sustainability is pillar of 818. How is 818 producing tequila as sustainably as possible?

Our distillery is a great example of how technology and sustainability can live in harmony. Our distillery partner is a model for energy management, creating its own power supply with solar energy and a biomass burner. All of our agave comes from within 10km, enabling the field crews to spend less time and energy transporting it.

Can you tell us about the 818 Bricks program in partnership with the non-profit
S.A.C.R.E.D?

The 818 Bricks program has been a cornerstone of our sustainability efforts from the beginning. In 2021, we connected with S.A.C.R.E.D., a nonprofit focused on sustainability in the tequila industry and its surrounding communities. Our goal was to find a partner who could facilitate creating agave byproduct bricks. Since the beginning of our relationship, we have constructed a library focused on regenerative agriculture, a community plaza with a rainwater capture roof, and more, with new projects on the way. We’re so proud of our partnership with S.A.C.R.E.D., which has positively impacted every facet of our company. 

Which expression is your go-to when you drink tequila? If a cocktail, can you share the recipe for our readers to recreate at home?

It’s hard to pick just one! You’ll find me enjoying an 818 Paloma with our Blanco on a warm day. The 818 Reposado & Tonic is my go-to drink of choice for a long night ahead. But my absolute favorite thing to sip on before a nice meal is definitely an 818 Reposado Negroni.

a person making a cocktail

 

818 COCKTAIL RECIPES

818 PALOMA

Fill a glass with ice, then add 1.5 oz 818 Tequila Blanco, 0.25 oz lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Top with 1 oz grapefruit soda.

818 REPOSADO & TONIC

Fill a glass with ice, then add 1 oz 818 Tequila Reposado and 3-4 drops lemon juice. Top with 3 oz tonic water and stir.

818 NEGRONI

To a mixing glass with ice, add 1 oz 818 Tequila Reposado, 1 oz Campari, and 1 oz sweet vermouth, then stir until well-chilled (around 40 times). Strain into a rocks glass over one big rock of ice. Express the orange peel on the rim of the glass, then add it in.


POUR CONSCIOUS COCKTAILS WITH 818

We’re celebrating Earth Month with mindful mixology masterclasses across our hotels. Shake up vibrant zero waste cocktails that make the most of every ingredient and celebrate the versatility and sustainability of 818 Tequila.

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