Casa Dragones innovative tequilas take over Florida

Bertha González Nieves, world's first female certified Maestra Tequilera, Casa Dragones founder & CEO. Courtesy Melanie Dunia.

ISABEL OLMOS

Special/El Nuevo Herald

Nowadays there are several unique, innovative tequilas for each moment of our lives. Traditionally made tequilas that push the industry's boundaries. Bertha González Nieves, world's first female Maestra Tequilera certified by the Academia Mexicana de Catadores de Tequila is considered by many experts as the most innovative tequila maker in the industry.

González Nieves, Casa Dragones CEO, co-founded the company with partner Bob Pittman (of MTV fame) and lives between Mexico and New York. For her, there are no borders between the two countries, just a fusion of cultures that Casa Dragones tequilas reflect.

"What I do see is a very interesting interaction between both markets, with many of our customers working in New York or Miami and vacationing in Mexico," says González Nieves.

"We select the best of each country: USA's innovation, technology and entrepreneurial spirit, and Mexican authenticity, artisanal skills, history and values. That's why our tequila es cutting edge modern and inspired in tradition at the same time," explains the Maestra Tequilera.

The renowned independent tequila company just launched their new Casa

Dragones Blanco in South Florida, created by its two Maestros Tequileros, González Nieves and Benjamín García. The ultra-premium small batch hand crafted 100% Blue Agave tequila is great for cocktails.

"We are thrilled with the positive reaction in Florida after just a few weeks in the market. It is a less expensive fine quality tequila, created with a process that focuses on the pure flavor of agave, to be enjoyed alone or in cocktails," declares González Nieves.

Selected as one of Mexico's Most Influential Women by Forbes magazine, Bertha started working in the industry since 1998, and her love for tequila sparked after she was selected by the Japanese government as a young cultural Mexican ambassador.

"As part of my training I had to learn more about Mexican industry, so I stayed for three days in Tequila, Jalisco, and I just fell in love with all things tequila," remembers González Nieves.

When she told her father she wanted to work in a tipically masculine industry, he thought that since she was only 22 at the time, she would quickly get interested in something else. "But it didn't happen that way," she says proudly.

After working for several years at Booz Allen & Hamilton in management consulting and getting her masters degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at the Northwestern University Illinois, Medill School of Journalism and J.L. Kellogg Graduate School, she worked for 10 years at José Cuervo, the oldest tequila company in México and the best school to learn everything about the industry.

Today, Casa Dragones wants to push the industry's boundaries with its two innovative tequilas: Casa Dragones Joven and Casa Dragones Blanco. "We believe that we —Mexico and the tequila industry as a whole— have everything we need to compete against other spirits such as cognac, brandy and whisky. Tequila has more than enough history, authenticity and profesionalism to compete in the luxe spirits segment," she says.

Moreover, Casa Dragones has worked with some of the world's greatest chefs, like Thomas Keller, Scott Conant, Eric Ripert, Enrique Olvera and Martha Ortiz, among many others. "There are tequilas for every occasion, and certainly our Casa Dragones Joven is made for sipping. We've had the chance the collaborate with great Mexican and American chefs that were inspired by our product to propose unexpected pairings," she explains.

The name of the company pays homage to the elite cavalry that helped spark the Mexican Independence War. "Our name, Dragones, is a symbol of our effort to break the industry's boundaries to be part of the companies that are pushing this category into the future, bringing in the best quality, the best product manufactured with cutting edge technology. We are independents that break the molds," she passionately describes.

The Dragones are also a symbol of fierceness, independent spirit and patience. "They had the passion for liberty, they were the ones that held the first clandestine meeting leading to the Independence War, so they really were the detonator of change, that's why we identify with them", she further explains.

González Nieves believes that "passion allows you to work with a meticulous attention to details. Your heart and mind command you to be completely

focused, invested in what you do." For a long time, she was the only female certified Maestra Tequilera in a man's world. "Definitely, it is a predominantly male industry, but the most important traits to be accepted are a strong point of view and a keen interest and respect for the category which we all share."

She jokingly says that when she got her certification as Maestra Tequilera, "I told them I almost had to grow a mustache to be accepted".

This tequila expert, born in Mexico City, but with a tapatío heart and temper, is defying all the rules of an industry that more and more women are becoming attracted to, seduced by the world of tequila.