The Spirit Behind High-End TequilaAs the founder of Casa Dragones tequila, Bertha González Nieves is a leader in an industry still dominated by men.
Bertha González Nieves, Mexico’s first official Maestra tequila — or female master distiller — talked as she poured.“Did you know that oysters pair really beautifully with tequila?” she asked. The co-founder and chief executive of Casa Dragones were sitting in her Chelsea apartment on an afternoon in August, wearing a kelly-green blazer that offset her gold jewelry, offering a tasting of her company’s various tequilas.
The minerality of the mollusk, she explained, accents the light citrus present in un-aged tequila such as a blanco, or a joven, which is a blend of un-aged and aged tequilas. Ceviche, grilled octopus, sea urchin — all are excellent to have with tequila. Dark chocolate works well, too. “But the harder you go on the cacao,” she said, “the more you’re going to get from the oak,” referring to the flavors of an añejo, or a tequila that has been aged for one to three years in oak barrels.
Ms. González Nieves, 52, started Casa Dragones in 2009 with Bob Pittman, 68, the chairman and chief executive of iHeart Media, after tequila shed its persona in the United States as a rough-and-tumble party liquor. What was once a drink that college students downed at bars with a dash of salt and slice of lime, or mixed to make sickly sweet margaritas, is now ordered neat or on the rocks, sipped not shot.
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Photography by Koral Carballo
Assistance by Azucena San Martin
Text by Thessaly La Force
Makeup by L de Labios
Hairstyle by Viridiana Ramirez
Commissioned by Matthew Leifheit
Edited by Tanner Curtis
Photographed with Leica M11