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How much do you love Tequila? Well it seems like all they do at TQLA Houston is pay homage to their love for the agave happy juice (duh, look at the name)! If that is not obvious by looking at the decor, talking with the mixologists, or even just looking at the vast amount of tequilas offered at the bar; you would figure it out by attending one of their Tequila Dinners. How do you describe a fabulous night filled with one of your favorite spirits, that is coupled with a great menu, with the added pleasure of meeting new friends, plus great conversation, and leaving with a feeling of ultimate joy as you end the night utterly fulfilled and saying to yourself…”Was this one of our favorite dinners of all time”? Tell you what we would call it…The Bomb Diggity! Oh where do we start!

With the entrance adorned with upside down Tequila bottles and a bar that seemed almost limitless and piled high to the sky with any Tequila your little heart desired, we knew we were in for a treat. Shown to a private back area of the restaurant, we quickly took our spots for TQLA’s Don Julio Tequila Dinner. At each setting, placed across the official Don Julio “tasting mat”, were four beautifully placed glasses of Tequila. The Tequila’s ranged from the Blanco (famous in the U.S.) to the Reposado (famous in Mexico) and let’s not forget the Tequila of all Tequilas…the Don Julio 1942. The Tequila seminar was not only educational but we had a blast understanding the difference between 100% agave tequila and “the rest”. “The rest” are those that are comprised of at least 51% agave and the remaining portions are traditionally made up of 49% sugarcane. They are still officially “Tequilas”, but are not considered premium tequilas. As our speaker, Jorge Rantis, says, “The best Tequila is the one you enjoy the best!”

We are not biased when it comes to Don Julio as we do enjoy other brands, but we WILL be sticking with 100% agave Tequilas from now on.

It was interesting to learn that Tequila must be made and produced in one of these five regions in Central Mexico: Jalisco, Nayarit, Tamaulipas, Michoacán and Guanajuato. Of those, Jalisco accounts for 90% of tequila production. If it is not made in one of these locations, it cannot be called Tequila! Good examples that follow this rule: Cognac vs. Brandy and Champagne vs. Sparkling Wine. As the Don Julio bottle states, “Know Your Tequila”.

The dinner and the cocktails were spot on and everything, and we mean everything, was phenomenal. The mixologists at TQLA Houston really know how to make a great cocktail. In addition, the cocktail and courses were paired nicely; each playing off of one another.

Here is the lineup:

Paloma made with Don Julio Blanco paired with Lobster Tamale with corn cream, shrimp and cucumber salsa

If you completed a check list of all the things to include on freshly made seafood tamales, you would get this little corn husk filled tamale. The corn cream that it was served with it should be bottled and sold, because the favors and silky texture sent our senses into overload.

Spicy Pumpkin Martini with Don Julio Reposado and paired with a Grilled Texas Quail with agave chili glaze, sweet potato mash, and pecans

This course would have pleased even the quail, because it was done so well. The quail was grilled perfectly, and if you are a quail lover you know how hard that is to find when dining out in the city. Most restaurants can produce tasty quail, but many times they are over-cooked. The sweet potato mash was delightful; however, if they would have left off the chili agave glaze, we would have been a little happier. The glaze seemed to overpower the dish a bit. But, it was still an enjoyable course.

Fresh Cranberry Margarita made with Don Julio Blanco and paired with a Petit Filet with green chili wild rice, tequila apricots, and blackened tomatillo sauce

Our entire table said “PERFECT” in unison as we cut into our filets, and continued to talk about everything from its temperature to the taste for the next 15 minutes… Ummm…filet heaven??? Yep, that’s exactly what that was! The wild rice accented with tequila apricots was a treat as well. The apricot provided the right amount of sweetness to the distinct nutty favor of the wild rice.

Spanish Raindrop made with Don Julio Anejo and paired with Pumpkin Brioche Bread Pudding with homemade vanilla ice cream and canela anglaise

The bizness! Every time we think that we can’t find another delicious twist on bread pudding, we get surprised. The secret here was the use of the Brioche; I once heard it referred to as yeast most elegant achievement.The eggs, milk, sugar, and butter along with the yeast make Brioche part bread and part cake. Now top that with ice cream and canela anglais and you get a hunk of yummy love (Elvis would be so proud).

For those that do not know, Don Julio has recently released a new Tequila. Tequila Don Julio 70 originated from Master Distiller Enrique de Colsa’s special reserve and is being launched in honor of the 70th anniversary of the year Don Julio González began perfecting the art of Tequila making (1942). Instead of tasting the Don Julio Anejo, we actually got an opportunity to taste this lovely spirit. It is sold out in Houston at this time (sold out in the first week), but it will be back. At a lower price point than the $90-110 bottle of Don Julio 1942, the 70 year anniversary will only hit you for around $70.

So we had an evening where the menu was very well thought out and the drinks paired perfectly to each course. We learned all we could ever think we wanted to know about Tequila, and got to taste them as well. We shared a table with the perfect couple and after we all loved the same stuff and kept finishing each other sentences; we knew they were our foodie kindled spirits. Since we are not quite ready to remove the question mark and call it our best dinner of all time; we can say with all certainty it was the most fun we’ve had while dining in a long time! And as Swanky Girl told the Don Julio Reps the night of the event…”Don Julio is like poetry in your mouth”, which they loved! So, don’t be surprised if you see this in an ad or on a billboard in your city!

The Urban Swank Girls

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