Spirits of Mexico Festival to be Held in Old Town San Diego: Largest Celebration of Agave Spirits in the U.S.

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The Spirits of Mexico, the largest, oldest and most comprehensive agave festival in the United States, will be held September 15–19, 2010 in Old Town San Diego and at the location of California’s birthplace, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. The Festival will be the culmination of several agave-related events held in San Diego during August and September.

“Old Town San Diego and the state park are the ideal settings for this festival”, says Dori Bryant of the Polished Palate, festival producer.

The spirits of Mexico include tequila, mezcal, sotol and bacanora, each with its own denomination of origin and all distilled from the juice of the ancient agave plant. These and other finely crafted spirits from Mexico have quickly captured the hearts of the American consumer. The festival celebrates these spirits and their heritage.

In August, the Spirits of Mexico will hold its 4th Annual Tasting Competition at the festival’s official hotel, the Hacienda. This industry-only event will bring together tequila experts from across the U.S. and Mexico to taste and judge agave-based spirits. “The competition has grown significantly indicating the importance and popularity of this spirit to the US consumer,” states Jack Robertiello of Drinks Ink, competition co-host.

The nation’s first and only Sangrita Cocktail Challenge semi-finals will also take place in August. Sangrita, a fruity and spicy beverage, was developed over 60 years ago. It is traditionally served in caballitos as a partner to a shot of tequila. Sangrita uses various fruits and spices and recipes vary widely.

The Spirits of Mexico Festival officially kicks off on Wednesday Sept. 15 at Café Coyote at the festival’s Sangrita Cocktail Challenge Finals, sponsored by Liquid Living Maqazine. The public is invited join in the festivities and taste each of the finalist entries.

On Friday evening, Sept. 17, Executive Chef Rolfy Chavez of Barra Barra Saloon serves up his alchemical agave-infused cuisine at the festival’s Tasting Reception and Awards Dinner. Guests will sample a variety of world-class agave spirits while savoring infused hors d’oeuvres before the formal dinner begins. Guests will then move to the Fiesta de Reyes courtyard for the Awards ceremony where the winners of the 2010 Tasting Competition and Sangrita Challenge will be announced. Robert Plotkin of Bar Media, co-host of the competition commented: “For agave enthusiasts and aficionados, the Spirits of Mexico Competition is like the Oscars and Olympics rolled into one. Earning one of the competition’s coveted gold medals has proven an invaluable asset to the success of new brands of tequila and mezcal.”

Saturday afternoon, Sept. 18, is fiesta time. The Old Town Chamber of Commerce joins in the celebration, featuring The Taste of Old Town Fiesta of Flavors. Back by popular demand, live performances include the Gutierrez Andalusian Horse Show & Parade, Calpulli Mexihca Azteca Cultural Dance Ensemble, Chunky y Los Alacranes and more. There will be a Tequila Garden on site in the Plaza de las Armas area of the state park.

The Festival’s Main Event takes place on Saturday evening at The Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant. All the stars come out as more than 100 styles of featured agave spirits will be sampled and accompanied by culinary delights from The Cosmopolitan’s kitchen. Seminars take place at intervals throughout the evening. Meet Maestro Tequileros and learn first-hand from the experts how these spirits are made. A silent auction featuring rare, often priceless collector’s items, will benefit the Sky Ranch Foundation which is celebrating 50 years of helping troubled youth.

On Sunday, September 19, the annual Lobster Bus Excursion to Puerto Nuevo will take place. Hop on the bus for some Baja lobster hosted by Poco Tequila.

“Old Town San Diego and the State Park are the ideal settings for this Festival”, says Dori Bryant of the Polished Palate, Festival producer. “It brings the gastronomy, history, culture—the heritage, together, in one festive setting, not dissimilar to what the Festival itself encompasses. The Festival features cooking demonstrations, entertainment, seminars on all aspects of bringing this spirit to market--from first planting to planting a cocktail on the bar. Authors, aficionados, master distillers, mixologists and budding enthusiasts all gather annually to respect the heritage that’s present in every drop of this luscious spirit.”

Through the generosity of Fiesta de Reyes, the vibrant and exciting dining, shopping and entertainment complex located within Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, festival events take place throughout the Park. Fiesta de Reyes’s shops and restaurants are inspired by 19th century pueblo life, the essence of living in San Diego during its infancy from 1821 to 1872. Old Town San Diego has more than 150 shops and restaurants and, according to Chuck Ross, operator of Fiesta de Reyes, “It’s widely thought to be the country’s largest consumer of all things agave. We expect that singular accolade will increase significantly this September!”

For more information and to purchase event tickets, visit http://www.polishedpalate.com

Background on Spirits of Mexico
The Spirits of Mexico Festival started as a one-evening event in San Diego in 2004 with 12 brands and 350 guests. In 2007 several elements were added including a Tasting Reception & Dinner and the first Agave-Only Tasting Competition in the US, creating a more comprehensive multi-day and multi-faceted Festival celebrating all aspects of this spirit.

About Polished Palate
Since 2005, the Polished Palate has been hosting cutting edge Tasting Events, educating the consumer on all aspects of each distilled spirit category. Through seminars hosted by recognized industry professionals, guests learn about the history and culture of each spirit, their impact on society, current trends and appropriate tasting techniques, while promoting responsible consumption—all in a festive format.

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