Responsible drinking probably means many things to many people though once upon a time just getting home was considered responsible for me. I have mellowed since, now enjoying a few drinks in the company of good friends qualifies. Fortunately the Viceroy resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico provided plenty of opportunities for both.
Aside from the various times the group met to dine together there were numerous opportune moments where we enjoyed a few rounds of drinks. Our final evening meal was a Mexican cuisine and wine combining event, we were served a number of delicious meals and our glasses were always filled with a white or red wine to compliment the food.
It was an especially pleasant evening, the dishes were varied and tasty, the company lively and entertaining. All the wines were great choices from the restaurant cellar and if truly representative of the wines on offer and Mexican wines in general, all is heathy in the local vineyards. The Chef also provided an informative explanation about each dish and the wines throughout.
“a holistic hands and lips on experience”
However the mixology class and tequila tasting sessions were the highlights of the trip, at least from the social side of the itinerary.
Our adventures in cocktails provided us with the undivided attention of a pair of artisan mixologists for well over an hour. They explained about the importance of fresh ingredients mixed in exactly the correct proportions to provide the optimal blends. Fortunately it was a holistic hands and lips on experience.
The bar team here take their cocktails seriously and the session is organised professionally with a definite lesson plan and aim but in fun manner. We were each required to mix at least one cocktail under the supervision of our tutors. Mojito was my poison of choice, though I felt a bit of a fraud as I already muddle them frequently at home.
Some of the most popular cocktails were included, a manhattan, bloody mary and of course a couple of margaritas. We were also shown a new concoction blended by one of the resort mixologists. It was coffee liqueur flavoured, very creamy and although we were invited to help name it, the Chef chose the name for their creation; 3 Kings, very appropriate.
It’s doubtful anybody found a particular creation that wasn’t totally enjoyed though we probably found a new personal favourite or two.
After completing our lesson we were awarded a certificate, a professional looking one with a genuine seal. It is one of the few that may actually end up hanging on my wall; I’m proud as Punch.
“I gatecrashed the US session”
The tequila tasting was split with the European contingent of our party participating early in the trip and team USA a couple of days later. It was so enjoyable however it deserved an encore so I gatecrashed the US session.
Our guide to the history, culture and etiquette of tequila was called Carlos and what he didn’t know about the spirit wasn’t worth knowing. Tequila is produced from the Agave fruit, the alcohol by volume (abv) typically ranges between 35-45%.
There are three main quality levels of tequila; Blanco (silver) which is clear, distilled for less than 4 months and bottled without aging. The Reposado (Aged) is aged in an oak barrel for between 4 and 11 months while the highest quality spirit is called Añejo (Extra aged) which can be aged for any period above a year. Some are aged for that long they are known as Extra Añejo (Ultra aged). Additionally there is Joven or ‘Gold’ which is usually a blend of Blanco and Reposado.
The quality of the tequila governs how it will be consumed, Blanco is a little rougher round the edges than its more illustrious relatives and perfect for mixing in margaritas or as a shot. Reposado will have more colour and lustre due to the aging process and predictably Añejo; the sipping tequila will be smoother and with still more colour.
“charged as learning under influence”
We had the pleasure of trying all 3 varieties and even a few of the Extra Añejos, I was rapidly converting to a lover of tequila. It is the perfect spirit to combine with Ceviche as tequila suits citrus fruits and lime in particular and this gave us another excuse to experiment with some more Ceviche dishes.
These events weren’t just put on especially for us however, they are packages available to any guest of the resort. This is what makes them relevant experiences as this is not always the case. I also had the opportunity to speak with a young couple that enjoyed the tequila tasting session and they were gushing with praise for both the tasting and the resort.
This is my favourite form of education, informative and refreshing, though maybe it’s possible to be charged as learning under influence? Regardless I look forward to further opportunities to participate in responsible drinking but then I always do!
Although I was a very happy guest of Viceroy Riviera Maya all opinions are my own, formed while savouring several tequilas and cocktails.