The Savoy’s Alex Walker recently won the 1800 Visionaries Cocktail Competition, which saw him board a jet plane to Mexico for a VIP trip.
He sent us back a diary of his experiences, so we can all be jealous of what he got up to:
Monday 8th May
After a long flight from Gatwick I was delighted to arrive in Cancun and discover our
apartment was overlooking the beach. It didn’t take me long to feel sand between my toes and suddenly the airplane food was a distance memory.
All that sun and sand had me thirsty, so after a quick change, it was time to discover Cancun. We found ourselves in a charming little bar called La Perla where local Louis took us through a Mezcal tasting involving three different Mezcal’s all made with the same agave. The night continued with beers, tequila and tacos, although we did go a little more local with some deep-fried grasshoppers and a fermented drink called pulque.
The evening ended down on 5th Avenue (one of the main strips in Cancun) at a beach bar enjoying cocktails overlooking the moonlit Caribbean Sea.
Tuesday 9th May
The day started with an early wake up call to allow us to make our way to the Mayan ruins in Tulmun. Our guide, Jacob, was a fascinating guy who filled us in on all of the history of the ruins and the Mayan culture in general. It really was a fantastic few hours.
What followed was even more special, in fact it turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done. We made our way to some underground caves, around 20 mins drive away from the ruins, but only when we arrived did I learn that we would actually be swimming under the caves. Simply stunning.
All that excitement meant food was needed and we found it on the beach, followed by a relaxing afternoon by the rooftop pool at our apartment with beers and 1800 flowing. The night saw us back in Cancun and back on the beach drinking margaritas at the Grand Hyatt before dinner.
Wednesday 10th May
The day started, as every day should, with a swim before brunch and cocktails to prepare ourselves for the flight to Guadalajara, the gateway to Tequila town.
The drive from Guadalajara airport to Tequila was stunning with the sun setting as we caught our first glimpse of the Tequila Volcano. Another town, another stay in a place with a rooftop bar.
We continued to watch the sun set from the rooftop whilst enjoying some 1800 Cristalino. A quiet evening was on the cards and with a hotel as stunning as the Hotel de las Animas we were in safe hands, and early night was needed to prepare for the day ahead.
Thursday 11th May
An early start allowed us a look around Tequila Town before our guide for the day Deena was to take us on a VIP tour of the agave fields and distillery.
We started by heading to the agave fields and met with a top Jimador. He showed us how to harvest the agave, then I got have a go at planting and then harvesting an agave plant, it was an awesome experience!
We headed back to the Jose Cuervo distillery, where the VIP tour began. We were shown the distillery and all the processes, from the agave arriving at the distillery, being cooked, pressed then distilled.
Continuing the tour we headed to where they age the tequila, then tasted some 12 month old Jose Cuervo. I was then shown down in to the special cellars where they age the Reserva de la Famila. Then they had a special surprise waiting for me, a barrel top with the 1800 Visionaries Logo on it that I got to sign, a truly unexpected surprise.
The day continued with unforgettable experiences, one of which was tasting Reserva straight from the barrel using a tool called The Thief.
We were then shown around the new hacienda, which was stunning and also contained one of the longest bars I’ve ever seen. It is actually the second longest cantina in the world.
After a bit of souvenir shopping we met up with Deena again for a special three course lunch paired with 1800 tequila, showing off the character of each expression. We had grouper fish and Blanco, duck with Reposado and chocolate and hazelnut with the Anejo.
Following lunch we found ourselves in a special room where we had a VIP tasting of the 1800 range by the only female maestro of Tequila in the world, she showed us the best way to enjoy each tequila. Hands down the best tasting that I’ve ever been too.
Upon leaving the room Deena was waiting with a surprise, she handed me the barrel top that we had just signed and told me that it was a gift for me. I was blown away and felt very humbled.
After that stunning morning and afternoon we headed back to the hotel and to the Sky bar. They let me get behind the bar and make a cheeky cocktail, seemed rude not to!
Still full from our amazing lunch, we skipped dinner and headed straight out to explore the town some more.
We went to a world famous bar called La Capilla, famed for Batangas, which are Tequila, lime, salt, and coca cola. Many Batangas and palomas later, along with some nice chat we headed back to the hotel to relax with a few beers and some food. A perfect last night and the perfect end to a truly exceptional trip.
We woke fairly early the next day for some last minute souvenirs, packed our bags and headed to the airport for our flight home.
I’ve probably missed out a few bits and pieces, but needless to say it was a truly amazing experience. Many thanks to Oli and Caitlin for being awesome hosts, everyone at 1800 Tequila, Jose Cuervo and everyone that I met on my trip, you’re all awesome.
Until next time, Mexico.