First let me be clear about one thing—I wasn’t technically in the ride. Sure I contributed to the fundraising effort; I made a modest donation to Jonathan’s campaign, which would have been larger, but we’d just begun dating and I didn’t want to overcommit. No no no, he was the one who rode his bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the course of five days. He’s the one who raised over $4,000 for charity. He’s the one who got up every Saturday before dawn for eight-hour long practice rides with strangers in Lycra and butt-butter schmeared between their thighs. We (his mother and I) were just the cheerleaders who flew down for the finish in Brentwood so we could pick him up after he literally threw his bike to the floor, and fell to the ground muttering hateful epitaphs about his short lived love affair with the sport of cycling and Spandex—two sentiments I whole-heartedly agree with.
After the climactic end to the race, we checked into our room at the Standard on Sunset so Jonathan could to take his first real shower in a week. With the crusted boogers and saliva now scrubbed from his windshield—I mean face—we emerged from our Hollywood-chic room to meet up with some of his friends for dinner. And that’s where I first met Todd, and his wife Lauren.
And now we’re back to the point of my story.
They’d just finished a year of traveling around the world [most of which was documented on their awesome blog ephemerratic], and coincidentally returned to the states via LAX, the same day Jonathan finished the ride. Two days later, we all flew home to San Francisco and Jonathan has never woken up at 4:00am on a Saturday since.
Cut to the present…
Todd, now a great friend whose works of art fill our home, was asked to participate in an annual art competition and fundraiser for Creative Capital, hosted and financed by Casa Herradura Tequila. In an effort to remind the world that Herradura is made in the traditional artisanal way; a process that starts in the fields around Casa Herradura, where jimadors trained by their fathers and grandfathers in the art of harvesting perfectly ripe agave, carve the plants into piñas or bulbous cones with coa machete-like knives before they are baked low and slow, and then pressed to release the mosto, or caramelized juice, that’s then fermented al natural and aged in American White Oak barrels a little longer than most tequilas, imparting the perfect bouquet and taste–Herradura launched this campaign of community engagement with local artists.
Celebrating the intersection of the old and new, this event tied handmade local artwork of today to the culturally rich Mexican tradition of hand-making tequila from the past, an art form in itself. To pull it off, the tequila conglomerate’s community engagement team identified ten local artists each from seven cities around the country, and gave each of them an American white oak barrel—just like the ones they use—and asked them to decorate it.
With little guidance, each artist had several weeks to impart themselves on their barrels.
Once completed, the barrels were collected and presented to a panel of judges who selected the top three to win cash prizes, $10K, $3K, and $1K.
So what came of it? Well I only saw the San Francisco submissions and they were phenomenal.
Some of the barrels were brightly painted,
while others were meant to interact with, like this molded ceramic end-table with drawer,
Or this one that was cut into a cushioned chair with matching ottoman.
While others were used as a base to showcase other mediums, like leather work for the BDSM community, or this one with nails and cut iron.
What was most astonishing was the variety of submissions. Each artist, given the same set of instructions, interpreted the challenge in such a unique way that I was reminded of the melting pot that is San Francisco’s art community. And isn’t diversity what makes art so compelling in the first place?
Much to my surprise, Todd didn’t win. Though to the credit of the artist who did win (Dan Lydersen), his barrel was amazing.
It was a multi-layered diorama meticulously detailing a freakishly strange modern day of the dead celebration in a fantasyland of giant agave plants, pool parties and elaborate landscapes. It’s one of those pieces that you just can take your eyes off because the technique and technical skill involved is awe-inspiring. And no matter how long I looked at it, I continued to uncover more and more creative genius….most likely inspired by the mass consumption of tequila no doubt, but admirable talent nonetheless.
For this I want to applaud Casa Herradura and challenge more corporations to take their lead and come up with innovative ways to use their marketing dollars to give back to the communities they’re in. Not only was this a way for Herradura Tequila to directly subsidize local artists with cash prizes, but they donated $70,000 to underwrite Creative Capital professional development workshops for artists in each of the cities. On top of that, they partnered with ThrillistSF and hosted a kickass party to showcase all the barrel submissions to the public, giving the artists more exposure within their communities, which is admirable and appreciated.
Pomegranate Margarita & Abuela’s Ponche
At the party we celebrated the artists and their achievements with fantastic Herradura tequila reposado and silver. Some in the form of signature cocktails, and some “neat” in the form of shots for those of us who like it like that. Below you’ll find the recipes for the two cocktails Herradura served that evening. Neither are too sweet or tangy, but just right. Totally drinkable and refreshing. The perfect accompaniment to a rich carnitas dinner, or for keeping you and your guests warm on a cool summer night.
- 5 oz Herradura Silver Tequila
- 1 oz Lime juice
- .5 oz Agave nectar
- .5 oz cointreau
- 1 oz Pomegranate juice
- and a slice of lime for garnish
Mix all the ingredients and shake vigorously and pour over ice and garnish.
*Makes about four cocktails
- 6 oz Herradura Reposado Tequila
- 3 oz Apple juice
- 2 oz Lemon juice
- 1 oz agave
- 1 oz Guava nectar
- 4 dashes bitters
- 6 oz soda water
- Apple slices & cinnamon stick
Mix all the ingredients except the soda in a large punch bowl filled with blocks of ice.
Serve over more ice and top with the soda water. If you can grab a cinnamon stick or apple slice you can garnish with those.