At Los Vida restaurant and bar, they take agave spirits seriously. They have recently introduced a new role in their business. Meet Lamar Powell, Los Vida Tequila and Mezcal Sommelier.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started in the bar industry.
I started in the bar industry over 13 years ago. I’ve worked my way up from glassy, bar back to bartender then to the craft of cocktails, which led to the love of tequila and mezcal and getting the pleasure of working together with Octavio Gomez-Haro at Los Vida.
You’ve recently joined Los Vida in Crows Nest as Tequila and Mezcal Sommelier. What does the new role entail?
It’s a very exciting role and one that we hope will make a big difference to how people perceive agave spirits. It starts with getting in tune with your guests then exceeding their expectations. It’s about engaging with people and sharing the culture and interesting story of tequila and mezcal.
How was the role shaped out of your passion for agave spirits?
My passion for agave spirits and my own persona will define how I shape this role and take it to new heights. It’s also great timing as Los Vida is developing in their new sites and in Crows Nest in particular with the opening of La Cantina which has a stronger focus on agave spirits.
Working with tequila and mezcal in Australia has its challenges. How do you go about educating and changing perceptions that they are meant to be sipped?
I would simply recommend enjoying it slowly with a beer, slice or orange dusted with cinnamon and to sip on your shot as you enjoy the trio. If you’re not a beer fan, we have the option of house sangrita. Nice and easy.
For a newcomer to the category, what advice would you give them on how to taste tequila and mezcal?
When guests come into Los Vida, they are already open to try a Mexican experience. To really make it attractive, I share a bit of the romantic story about tequila and mezcal, the family approach to the production for the artisan brands as well as its unique tasting profiles. Authenticity is a big driver for people to try something new, vibrant and exciting like tequila and mezcal, which are 100% Mexican so it makes it easier.
How do you go about advising on various taste profiles?
Start with a few qualifying questions to better understand the guest’s palate. I would generally give two options forward, describe them and allow the guest to make the final choice.
What are some suggestions for different styles of agave spirits that you could give?
Pre-dinner, I would recommend Tequila Ocho Blanco single estate 2015. During the meal, Mezcal Banhez, accompanied by a beer or a margarita to freshen up the palate. To finish, Bruxo No. 2 – Pechuga on its own. The addition of pechuga during the second distillation adds a dimension of spices and sweet notes like cinnamon, plum and even some pineapple notes. It really adds numerous profiles to create a rich cohesion between all ingredients with a fair amount of smoke.
Los Vida is about to launch La Cantina, a small bar upstairs within the restaurant at Crows Nest. What can we look forward to on the drinks list?
La Cantina is a very exciting new project from Los Vida familia. It will have a strong focus on margaritas, tequila and mezcal flights and a twist on classics using mainly agave spirits. It will also have weekly special cocktails. We will also introduce some mixed flights using tequila, mezcal, raicilla and sotol.
Any closing comments?
It’s been great to work with Los Vida as they get it when it comes to agave spirits. I’ve also had Octavio Gomez-Haro as mentor. He is the Co-Founder of Los Vida as well as Director of Casa Mexico, a business that has been focusing on artisan mezcal for around 4 years so there’s a lot of exposure and insights into Mexico and the great families that produce agave distillates.
In collaboration with Los Vida.
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