Adventurous Tongues Head Downtown for Agave Fest

April 22, 2015

AgaveFestBy Cristina Manos

Mezcal is tequila’s cousin, made from the heart of the maguey plant, a type of agave native to Mexico. The spirit is called the “elixir of the gods” and Hotel Congress is getting ready to celebrate this Earthly gift starting at 6pm on Saturday, May 2 for the seventh year in a row. Agave Fest is fast becoming a popular cultural event in Southern Arizona.

“I feel that we are growing the event into something special. This year, as we partner with Visit Tucson and the Mexican Consulate to add more interesting programming, I feel we are offering a more substantive cultural experience, rather than simply a fun agave cocktail party. Albeit, it will be that too, for sure!” Dave Slutes of Hotel Congress says.

Agave Fest has much to offer, especially for those who are interested in the history and culture behind agave-based spirits and for adventurous tasters who want to try mescal that is not normally available in the United States. Downtown Tucson does it right. There are several events in addition to Agave Fest, making the whole weekend an opportunity for regional education and local fun.

Chef Janos Wilder is the wizard of several local gardens. His expertise in cooking with native ingredients is a welcome addition to Agave Fest this year.

Chef Janos Wilder is the wizard of several local gardens. His expertise in cooking with native ingredients is a welcome addition to Agave Fest this year.

This is the first year Chef Janos Wilder of Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails is getting involved with Agave Fest, adding to the expertise of native ingredients and cultural traditions.

“Mezcal is a small, fun piece of it,” Chef Janos says, “I’ve been working with local products in every form for over 30 years. The menu [at Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails] is saturated with different elements from the region that go back thousands of years.”

Chef Janos is tapped into the bigger picture, and his contribution to the weekend includes regional cuisine, native culture and history, and local agricultural conservation. He is the wizard of his gardens, one of which is located at the Tucson Children’s Museum, and many guests who dine at his restaurant may not realize they’re eating fresh vegetables and herbs grown right across the street. Chef Janos has been involved with Native Seeds Search for 20 years, and this year, his benefit dinner joins powers with Agave Fest for this year’s cultural celebration of regional food and spirits.

Agave Dinner Benefit:

Grasshoppers

The chapulines, yes grasshoppers, for super-curious tasters who don’t mind a crunchy, traditional delicacy.

Friday May, 1, 7pm at Maynards Market & Kitchen.

Proceeds benefit Native Seeds Search, a local nonprofit that focuses on the conservation of our traditional agricultural community and native resources. Tickets are $95, with 32 available seats. Hotel Congress and Chef Janos Wilder of Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails are hosting the event, and world-renowned mescal expert, Sergio Inurrigaro will be present to meet and greet guests at 6:30p.m. prior to the Agave Dinner.

The Agave Fest:

Saturday May 2, 6pm at Hotel Congress.

Tickets $35 in advance. Includes 10 tasting tickets, a commemorative shot glass, a cascarone, Cup Café specialty taco & salsa bar, live entertainment by Vox Urbana, and a vote for the Best Cocktail by the historic East Bartenders sponsored by Yelp.

Hotel Congress will also offer hotel packages to tasters who want to spend the night. The package includes two tickets to Agave Fest, a hangover recovery kit, and Agave Fest memorabilia. This event is likely to sell out.

CongressAgavePrior to Agave Fest at Hotel Congress:

Saturday May 2, at 5pm, the Agave 101 lecture by President and Founder of the Pro Mezcal Culture Association and Director of Master Mezcalier Program, Sergio Inurrigaro. This your chance to meet the Mezcal-Man himself. Inurrigaro has been all over the world and back. He’s led more than 1,750 tastings across the world. His knowledge and stories will set the tone for your mezcal tasting adventures.

Agave Fest will feature over 50 spirits to choose from. Tequila lovers are in for a real treat, so don’t wait another year to taste rare mezcal spirits, as many of them won’t be in town again until the next celebration. Hotel Congress will offer tequilas by rock star Roger Clyne and movie star George Clooney. They are even offering chapulines, yes grasshoppers, for super-curious tasters who don’t mind a crunchy, traditional treat considered a delicacy to some.

For more information and for tickets to the Agave Dinner or Agave Fest go to www.hotelcongress.com.

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