I went on my first tequila crawl last week, accompanied by Ken Austin (founder/chairman of Tequila Avión), John Bilello (Executive Vice President Sales), and a small group of food bloggers, writers, PR folk and other miscreants. One of the goals of the evening was to let us, and our readers, know that Avión tequila actually exists.
"Ninety-five percent of the people who watch Entourage still don't know that Avión is real," Austin says while we're sipping the brand's sweet, light Silver at the bar in Nobu. "Entourage creator Doug Ellin and Kenny Dichter (Avión co-founder) were friends since they were kids. While Doug was planning Entourage, we were getting ready to launch Avión, so it all worked out from there." The tequila received so much screen time on the show that one writer claimed it was "practically an ancillary character."
The show-biz start also greatly shortened the window Austin had for moving his product to market. "I needed to get everything done quickly, because I didn't want to be the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. that came after Forrest Gump. Even though I'd been working on this for a long time, the perception would be that we created Avión because of Entourage." And work rapidly he did: Austin is proud that Avión "will be in the top twelve tequila markets in the U.S. by November 15, and we've only been in business for about 140 days."
More tequila tastings took place at Prime Italian (where we were presented with more cocktails and platters upon platters of menu items); the Clevelander (where we sampled the Reposado and more cocktails); and our final stop, the Living Room at W Hotel South Beach, where I tried the caramel-toned Avión Añejo -- aged two years in Jack Daniel oak casks -- and a great elixir culled from Avión, cucumber and pomegranate juices, fresh mint, and a dash of bitters. There may have been another ingredient in there, but at this point in the evening I wasn't paying much attention to details.
I suppose it should be noted that Avión is an ultra-premium tequila made from 100 percent Blue Weber agave grown in the highest region of Jalisco, Mexico. A slower roasting process, at lower temperatures, helps create the mellow taste profile. The Silver ($40-$50 per 750ml) was, in fact, the smoothest I have ever tried - and that includes Patron. Smoothness is something of an Avión mantra: "When people try Avión for the first time," says Austin, "and they realize that they're not going to make the tequila face - that's when we convert the next vodka drinker."
The Añejo ($50-60) was also delicious - richer than most. I have no complaints regarding the Reposado ($45-$55), yet because I rarely drink this middle-aged rendition of tequila, I don't have much to compare it with. But never mind what I think: Avión has landed in Miami. Grab your entourage, take flight, and decide for yourself.