We are happy to announce that we have just completed our first bottling of Tanteo Chipotle Tequila, our first product innovation since the original launch of the Tanteo brand in January 2009. Tanteo Chipotle builds off the success of our flagship Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila, bringing a balance of heat and smoke to new and interesting cocktails. In an upcoming post I will highlight exactly how we select, roast, and infuse our peppers to create Tanteo Chipotle, but wanted to write a bit today on the concept of developing this new infusion.
We have seen the growth of smoky cocktails over the past 10 years. While mostly in major urban centers with strong cocktail cultures, Mezcal and Islay Malt Scotch are growing in representation in signature cocktails. I remember my first experience with the John Lee Hooker Cocktail at Greg Seider’s Summit Bar, and falling in love with the smoky finish of a peaty scotch. However, I saw these cocktails mostly reserved for specialty cocktail bars, not the high volume restaurants and lounges that need to crank out cocktails. This all changed with the El Chingon Cocktail at Tanta - a beautiful and busy Chicago bar that was making a Tanteo Jalapeño Margarita with Apple Pepper ice and mezcal. This got me thinking - why don’t we combine Tanteo Jalapeño and Mezcal into one awesome product. After realizing that I don’t know how to make mezcal, I thought it might be better to play to our strengths and come up with our own Chipotle Tequila.
Creating the Juice
With a clear demand for smoky cocktails at high volume restaurants like Tanta, we needed to figure out how to make Tanteo Chipotle. This has been a process of guess and check over the last 18 months. We started by sourcing different chipotle peppers, roasted and dried in different ways, from different parts of Mexico. From there we made different macerates, and started mixing different blends of samples. We made a lot of samples, and most were pretty bad, but each failure was a lesson in what not to do. We documented everything, and after each session (I tend to get a little tipsy after an hour in the lab and need to take a siesta), we were a little closer to developing a final formula.
Paying attention to the smoke, the spice, the color, mouthfeel and the aroma. Over the sessions we started to narrow down what we liked. After getting whittled down to a half dozen of the best samples, we start to make cocktails with the samples. While it is hard to find all of the basic cocktail mixers in Mexico, I usually start with key limes, agave nectar, and ice and make a margarita. For Tanteo Chipotle we also did a lot of work with Pineapple as I love the combination of smoke and sweet. With a limited amount of time each session where one’s palate is fresh enough to taste all the nuances, this part of the process also takes a lot of time. Between these sessions, we also got samples back stateside and tasted with various bartenders and industry professionals. All in all, it has taken over 18 months to settle on the first recipe for Tanteo Chipotle Lot 1.
How to market?
Once we had the liquid and some cocktail applications, We need to figure out how to best market Tanteo Chipotle to prove our assumptions. For our first year (2016), our goals with Tanteo Chipotle are modest - present it to current Tanteo Bars and Restaurants as a seasonal drink feature for the Fall and Winter. We are going to test out our assumptions and hope that we find our Product/Market fit (customers that like Tanteo Chipotle). With all the effort put in this new product launch there is much anxiety that all the work is for nothing and people don’t like it. No matter how much work you do developing the brand, you can never be sure customers will actually buy it.
We are still about 30 days from getting Tanteo Chipotle into our distributor warehouses and 90 days out until you can find it at your favorite Tanteo Jalapeño account. Next time I hope to go a little more in depth into the actual production of Tanteo Chipotle.
Para la Buena Vida,