Tequila Talk: Memories of Milagro

Manny Pena, East Coast Brand ambassador for Milagro, pours a Single Origin cocktail at the Milagro party during the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
Les Baker

If you attended the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen this year, you would’ve noticed one thing in particular abundance: tequila.

Every year, more and more tequila companies make the trip to Aspen in June to highlight their “take” on an historic spirit, whose origin’s date back to B.C. times. Tequila was first commercially distilled in the 1700s, and now, sponsoring parties and seemingly every other booth in the Grand Tasting Tent feature it.

In fact, there were so many options at this year’s Classic that another ATW columnist talked about stumbling into the wrong tequila party, held a few feet away from the actual party she was trying to attend, which was located a few rooms down from a tequila-pairing dinner.

The party she was looking for was the Milagro party at the Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection, which refreshingly was one you didn’t have to know someone who knows someone to attend. It was open to anyone and everyone who enjoys tequila and a good dance party.

I went intending to have a drink or two, as the cocktail menu was crafted by the influential and inventive Death & Co., which has an outpost to its NYC original inside The Ramble Hotel in Denver that I’m dying to experience. I also wanted to learn more about Milagro, which up until last weekend, was pretty much differentiated in my mind from other tequilas because of its eye-catching bottle and relatively affordable, mid-level price point.

The Milagro party at the Hotel Jerome during the 2022 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
Les Baker

What I got out of the party was a new appreciation for what it takes to make just one bottle of Milagro. I also left with enthusiasm to add the tequila to my rotation.

Part of my new-found excitement for the brand stemmed from Manny Pena, Milagro’s East Coast Brand ambassador, who started as a major fan of the tequila before landing his current job.

“I have been a Milagro fan for over 15 years,” Pena said in-between showing off some moves on the dance floor and shaking up a few cocktails behind the bar. “I was with another brand of rum for over 13 years. So, I decided to make the switch after the pandemic and started the beginning of the year with William Grant & Sons and Milagro. And it’s been an amazing ride.”

One of Pena’s favorite things about Milagro is its relaxed and approachable vibe.

“Our motto for the brand is showing people the brighter side of tequila,” he said. “So that’s what we are doing with our events and with our drinks. It’s how we conduct ourselves.”

The party atmosphere and drinks served certainly embodied this brighter side motto, with the cocktail flavors leaning toward the light and bright, well-suited for summertime.

My favorite off the curated cocktail menu was the Highland Fix, made with Milagro Blanco Tequila, green chili, lime and banana. My drinking companion for the evening, who likes to go for the mezcal flavors, enjoyed the Subliminal Messages, a mix of Milagro Blanco Tequila, mezcal, jalapeño, blanc vermouth and pamplemousse.

The most unique cocktail we tried flavor-wise was the Single Origin, featuring Milagro Reposado Tequila, cacao nib, piña and coffee. This mix made for a drink with a little kick, the sweet of the piña cutting through the slight bitterness of the cacao nib and coffee.

In all the cocktails, the tequila was not over-powering; it drank rather smooth and clean, playing more of the role of a vehicle for the flavors rather than adding another level to the drinks.

As Pena says, “(Tequila) is a simple beverage with a lot of tradition behind it.”

Milagro, which means “miracle” in Spanish, honors many of the traditional aspects of the spirit when it comes to production, while also adding some bits of modern innovation to the mix.

The tequila is made from blue agave grown in the Jalisco highlands, over 6,000 feet above sea level. The agave takes around eight years to reach full maturity and once striped of its scales and spikes typically weighs about 100 pounds.

So why is this significant? Because, according to Pena, it takes 15 pounds of agave to make a single bottle of tequila, meaning from one 100-pound plant you can make about seven bottles of tequila.

“When people say, ‘Oh tequila is not aged,’ I’m like, this is aged picking up all the love and minerality and like character from the soil from this climate,” Pena said.  

Along with the heritage in every bottle of Milagro, there is also celebration.

“When you have memories of tequila, it’s celebrations, it’s fun times and it’s creating memories,” Pena said. “We encourage people to really enjoy the spirit for what it is. We’re not trying to be Scotch, we’re not trying to be gin. … I think tequila, it’s what it is and should be, and it should remain what it is.”

And in a world full of celebrity-branded tequilas and others trying to get too fancy with flavors, enjoying a tequila that’s pretending to be nothing more than a solid tequila is more than welcome on my bar cart.

The Milagro party cocktail menu created by Death & Co at the 2022 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
Les Baker
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