Special blend | Issaquah Highland’s Agave introduces own tequila

Agave Cocina and Tequilas is introducing its own, limited edition Double Barrel Reposado, from the State of Jalisco in Mexico.

Federico Ramos wants to introduce his patrons at Agave Cocina and Tequilas to tequila that will make them broaden their experience and turn them into connoisseurs. To that end, the restaurant is introducing its own, limited edition Double Barrel Reposado, from the State of Jalisco in Mexico.

Federico, along with his brother, Julian, and sister, Faviola Ramos, own two Agave restaurants – one in Redmond and one in the Issaquah Highlands. The three siblings have been in the restaurant business for 12 years. It was Federico’s dream to have his own restaurant and eventually his own tequila one day. That dream has been realized.

The Ramos family grew up in Jalisco, which includes Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. Jalisco is the region where the agave plant is grown and harvested for tequila, not unlike the Champagne wine region in northeast France – the exclusive region for real champagne.

The agave plant is the basis for genuine tequila, but with cheap tequilas, Federico said, other alcohol – and sugar – is often added, which produces that horrible queasy feeling if you overdo it.

This tequila is made for sipping, from a snifter. The experience, he said, will be similar to tasting fine wine.

“You look at the legs, color, sniff, swirl,” he said. “We’ve turned so many people into tequila connoisseurs.”

That’s because Agave already carries 150 other tequilas ranging in price from $7 to $230 a glass. He likes to encourage his patrons to try new things.

“It’s all a matter of how you drink it and the quality,” he said. “You don’t shoot it, you sip it.”

The family traveled to Jalisco to find just the right tequila for the restaurants. They decided to go with Casa Herradura, a distillery that has been in business since 1870. They tasted three different candidates, reposado tequilas still in their original barrels. Reposado means “rested.”

A reposado has to be aged at least two months up to 11 months. Agave’s Double Barrel Reposado was aged 11 months in an old whiskey barrel, then transferred into a brand new French oak barrel for a month. Technically, Federico said, it’s an anejo since it was aged for a year, but since it was switched from one barrel to another it has to be called a reposado. The name, double barrel, is due to this process. He said they tasted three different tequilas aged in this manner. A silver tequila is not aged. Federico said silvers have crisp, floral aromas and tend to be a favorite among women who have a more sensitive palate than men.

The Double Barrel Reposado is a limited edition. The Ramos’ got 240 bottles from the 2012 harvest, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. It is in Herradura bottles, but it is printed on the label that it is Agave Cocina’s own custom tequila. It can’t  be sold by the bottle, but a glass is $12. Federico said they wanted to keep it affordable so as many patrons as possible can try it.

On Tuesday, Aug. 20 Federico will host a cocktail party from 4-6 p.m. at the Issaquah location to formally introduce the Double Barrel Reposado. Representatives from Casa Herradura will be there for the festivities.

On Thursday, August 22, the Redmond restaurant will have a three-course pairing dinner. Call (425) 881-8252 for reservations for the dinner.

Julian and Federico both live in Redmond, and Faviola lives in Sammamish. Julian’s daughters both work at the Redmond restaurant, and Faviola’s son works at the Issaquah restaurant, continuing the family tradition. Federico said they also just released a new menu.

He said the Issaquah restaurant is the first contemporary Mexican restaurant in the area, meaning they use only fresh and sometimes organic product and have introduced new, interesting selections not found at a typical Mexican eatery.He said he and his siblings plan to travel to Jalisco every year to bring back a new custom tequila.