The New Business Traveler: Sipping Tequila Around San Miguel De Allende with Casa Dragones' Bertha González Nieves

Featured in CondeNast Traveler, April 19th, 2023

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When discussing her role as founder and CEO of the small batch tequila brand Casa Dragones, Bertha González Nieves sees her international success as a way to garner interest and showcase Mexico's culture, crafts, and heritage. “Mexico is a country with boundless creativity and a tradition of superb craftsmanship," says González Nieves. “We see ourselves as ambassadors, sharing this remarkable world of artistry and innovation.”


Since founding the brand in 2009, González Nieves has worked tirelessly to develop a balanced and complex tequila that has earned her bottles a place on a tasting menu at Eric Ripert's Le Bernandin, on Oprah's bar cart, and at the Venice Biennale—and cemented her as the first woman to be certified as Maestra Tequilera by the Academia Mexicana de Catadores de Tequila.


As such, González Nieves often travels back to the brand's home of San Miguel de Allende to connect with other local entrepreneurs and entertain clients at the newly opened La Casa Dragones—a meticulously designed home and tasting venue. (While overnight guests are invite-only, La Casa is available to reserve for private tastings and events year-round.)


We caught up with González Nieves to find out what she got up to on a recent business trip back to San Miguel de Allende—including why she always eats at the same airport sushi bar and her favorite way to start each day.


What was the purpose of the trip? 


I went in January to host a lunch at La Casa Dragones with clients and top customers, as well as meet with members of the Casa Dragones SMA team.


How did you get there?

I always fly the marvelous Aeromexico Dreamliner to Mexico City from my second home of New York City. I spend some time in our office there with our team or visit some family. From there, I take the three-and-a-half-hour drive to San Miguel.


Do you have an airport routine?

Well, I definitely order the vegetarian dish on the plane. I'm not fully vegetarian but actually on a plane it makes a difference. Flying back from Mexico City, there's an incredible local sushi bar at the Mexico City Airport that is to die for. I usually get there happily two hours in advance to eat at Sushi Iwashi Aicm and not worry about what I'm going to eat on the way back.


Where did you stay in San Miguel Allende?

My home away from home: Hotel Matilda.


What was on the agenda?

Almost everybody goes to San Miguel to relax. Sometimes my agenda is even busier and cooler than in New York City or Mexico City. Don't be misled by the town size. The level of events from a social agenda—and from a business agenda—that there is to do in this town could end up being a fuller than the biggest cities in the world.

I usually start with a long long walk into town along the steep hills and cobblestone streets to adjust to the high altitude. It just puts me in the right frame of frame of mind. I get all my steps in and then I also get to just see the town and connect to its energy. Then I'll run to meetings with some of the team who helped bring La Casa Dragones to life. This time we had breakfast at Cumpanio. After, we did a run of show for the luncheon and prepared for the clients to arrive at La Casa. Donnie Masterton, who owns The Restaurant, created a menu for this lunch with a mushroom risotto I can't shake. Later that evening, I went to drinks at Bekeb by star mixologist Fabiola Padilla.


I have to ask: When is your first sip of tequila in the day? 

I try to have my first glass of tequila as late in the day as possible but on occasions like this luncheon, I usually like to do it when we first welcome our guests. The first thing we do is walk into the house and then we go to the bar. That time before lunch is served is the time where there's nothing more special than being behind a bar and connecting with your guests; just breaking a bit of the ice with a glass of tequila, and getting everybody situated to the beauty and the energy of the house—the music that we have going, the sunlight hitting the fountain. It just creates the perfect occasion to welcome people and get them [experiencing] that special feeling of San Miguel.


Who was the most interesting person you met with?

One of the very beautiful things about San Miguel is that it's made of entrepreneurs. So there's always interesting people to meet and connect with. On this occasion, I had the chance to meet again with Ana Elena Mallet, [a designer] who helped us to create La Casa as an ode to midcentury Mexican craftsmanship. She is one of the most well known design curators in Mexico. This was a celebratory meeting of the work that we did together in the past few years.


How did you use your personal time? 

I love to text my friends before I'm going and say: Let's meet at a bar. Just to have a chance to connect and catch up with beautiful people that I love and adore in San Miguel. That's one of my favorite things that I do when I travel there. This time I had a bunch a of friends come to La Casa, where we all took turns behind the bar, kind of just jamming and having fun together in the courtyard.


I also always spend a lot of time walking through furniture and design stores, markets like Mesón Hidalgo, NAMUH, Casa Armida, and an amazing hat store called Suki Palomina.


How (and when) did you travel home?

I rushed back to New York City for an annual fundraising event at the Whitney Museum of American Art. After a two year hiatus, we were the tequila partner for the event.