Cuervo’s House

San Jose del Cabo, The house that Jorge built
BY: RANDALL C. NORTHRUP

I had the fortunate pleasure to be invited by Claudia Morales de Cuervo to attend a Tequila Tasting and Mexican Canapés (appetizers) hosted by her husband, Jorge Cuervo, that’s right, the great-grandson of the most popular tequila in the world. This family has an impressive history dating back to well before 1795 when Jose Maria Guadalupe Cuervo received royal permission from Spain to produce tequila on his property in Jalisco, Mexico. 

I entered Cuervo’s House and was greeted warmly by the hostess. I ordered a cold Corona and sat down at a nice leather table in the quaint restaurant portion of Cuervo’s House. As the hostess disappeared to let Jorge know I had arrived, my eyes were drawn to a brick wall directly in front of me. I instantly felt like I was back in old-world Mexico. On the wall were pictures of Jorge’s incredibly interesting family’s history, beginning with photos of Jorge’s immediate family and dating back through the centuries to his great grandfather, Don Jose Guadalupe Cuervo and his descendants who settled in Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico.

At the time of Jorge’s great grandfather's death, Don Jose Cuervo’s daughter, Maria Magdalena inherited the property in the center of the town of Tequila where Jose, Jorge’s great grandfather, had previously converted the paddocks of his Hacienda de Abajo into the Cuervo Tavern. In 1812 Maria founded and converted the Cuervo Tavern into the first alcoholic beverage distillery that holds the title to the oldest in Latin America, the Rojeña factory. The installation of this factory allowed the company to extend its market around the entire Mexican Republic. Over time, the traditional toast of Jalisco became the toast of Mexico, which together with other lands, became La Rojeña, a company that produced up to 400 barrels weekly.

Jorge pleasantly introduced himself and asked me if I would like a tour. I was a little puzzled as he led me through kind of a hidden door. I thought that where I was enjoying my cold beer in the restaurant was the extent of the property. As we emerged into the next area I was amazed at what I was looking at. There was this beautiful outdoor theatre with gorgeous red velvet curtains and a huge enamel white piano. It was like I had just walked out of an old-world restaurant and into a theatre venue set up for a really expensive private Elton John Concert. That’s the best way I can describe it. As I looked around the place I noticed it had great stage lighting, a sound system that would make any DJ jealous and incredible VIP sections with huge custom white leather couches. As I was standing in the middle of the dance floor taking it all in, I noticed Jorge standing at another doorway smiling at me, there’s more? I asked.

Jorge then led me into a large outdoor patio where he, along with his excellent Executive Chef, Roberto Gallardo, has hosted large tequila tasting and pairings events. Jorge and Roberto met while working at The One & Only Palmilla back in the good old days. When Jorge decided to open Cuervo’s House, Roberto joined him and 21 years later Cuervo’s House is still going strong. Jorge showed me some beautiful angel wings he had painted on the patios wall and commented that the ladies love to take pictures with them.

Next, we headed up to a private air-conditioned room where I watched a 20-minute video on the history of the region of Tequila, Jalisco Mexico. The video covered all aspects of the tequila process and was very informative and well made. It showed the beautiful scenery of the region and gives you a good understanding of the spirit and all that goes into making excellent tequila.

A waiter returned to set up the glassware for the tasting and the different tequilas I was about to try. Soon Jorge appeared and we were on our way to tasting. Jorge is passionate about tequila and it shows in the great care he takes to explain the proper way to enjoy tequila. Jorge takes you through the baking, fermentation distillation and the different types of barrels used in the aging process. Just like wine, you need a glass of water to clean your palate to be able to experience the full aroma, flavor and the lingering after taste that brings you back for more. Like wine, you can smell it. Just hold it a little farther away from your nose and inhale lightly as it is much stronger.

Jorge explains to me that there are basically two categories of tequila, 100 percent Agave and Tequila. One hundred percent Agave is elaborated exclusively from the sugars that are obtained from the Weber Tequilana Agave blue variety, which means no other sugars are added. The second variety is Tequila. It is made with 51 percent Weber Tequilana Agave blue variety sugars and 49 percent of other sugars different from agaves, such as sugarcane, corn, molasses or brown sugar. The "100 percent pure agave tequila" can only be bottled in the area of the designation of origin. There are five types of tequila within the two categories, white, young, reposado, vintage and ultra-aged. White tequila or tequila Blanco is typically distilled in stainless steel containers and is bottled just 15 days after, meaning that it is rarely aged or aged for a very short time. It can have a harsh taste to some people because it isn't aged like the highest end tequilas that are made to be sipped straight. If I’m drinking tequila for a cocktail it’s usually white tequila on the rocks. I like only tequilas made from 100 percent blue agave. You can taste the soil in it, kind of like when you were a kid and you would eat a handful of good dirt, you get all the raw taste of the earth in good 100 percent agave white tequila. 

Jorge started me out with Cazadores Reposado or Rested Tequila. After it is distilled it goes through a maturation process of at least two months in direct contact with the wood of oak or pinewood containers. It is also a result of mixing rested tequilas with vintage tequilas. The taste is smoother than white tequila and much better for sipping.

Next Jorge served a nice Sauza Vintage Tequila or Tequila Anejo. After distillation, it goes through a maturation process of at least one year in direct contact with the wood of oak or pinewood containers. It is also the result of mixing vintage tequilas with extra-aged tequilas. Now we're getting an even smoother tequila which Jorge served with a delicious canapé (appetizer) that was paired perfectly and accentuated the rich aged taste of the Anejo tequila.

Jorge definitely saved the best for the last, an Extra Aged or Extra Anejo. Here Jorge absolutely spoiled me and served me a really rare 1800 Milenio Extra Anejo. After a long and delicate aging process, the extra-aged tequila matures for a brief period in French oak barrels of cognac, providing a balanced, smooth, and unique flavor, with notes of vanilla, red fruit, and cinnamon. The canapé that was served with this tequila brought out the incredible taste and aroma of this fine tequila. 1800 Milenio extra Anejo is definitely a top-shelf tequila if you can find it, Jorge explained to me that there is currently a waiting list and it is pushing the price of a bottle way up. This is perhaps the smoothest tequila I have ever tasted.

As we were finishing up Jorge asked if I would like to have dinner with him. We ordered an excellent Mexican combination plate that was absolutely delicious. He also asked me to try a specialty of the house, a Cantarito which is the original margarita but much better.

Cuervo’s House is much more than a fine dining restaurant that is affordably priced. This is a place that offers so much entertainment and a location for any special event. Experience the heart of the Mexican Spirit through Jorge’s family history and traditions by tasting Mexico’s favorite drink.

Cuervo’s House recently celebrated its 21st Anniversary by throwing an incredible party. You can check it out at www.cuervohouse.com to get an idea of just how entertaining this place is. You can make your dinner and tequila tasting reservations on the website as well as any special event you are having this summer. Oh yeah, and your kids eat for free all summer long. I highly recommend Cuervo’s House, make your reservations now!