A Spirited Journey to La Casa Dragones in San Miguel de Allende

A Spirited Journey to La Casa Dragones in San Miguel de Allende

As the taxi’s tires hit the cobblestoned streets of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, my curiosity to peel back the layers of this 16th-century colonial town ignited. Emerging from the darkness of an hour-and-a-half drive from Querétaro airport, the town unveiled itself like a hidden gem, exuding the charm of a bygone era. It wasn’t until dawn that the true essence of this UNESCO World Heritage city, rich in history and culture, came alive – a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors, bustling markets, and the gentle tolling of church bells echoing through the winding and hilly streets. But amidst the colonial architecture adorned with vibrant bougainvillea, I was headed to the luxurious home of Tequila Casa Dragones, a small-batch producer known for its ultra-premium sipping tequilas.

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A vibrant blue wall with a hanging lantern above a wooden doorway, flanked by green potted plants and rustic stone steps, between two orange buildings.

Photo: Courtesy of Tequila Casa Dragones

Standing in front of the bright blue facade of the spiritual home of the esteemed tequila brand, I was warmly greeted by an elegant and striking woman wearing a vibrant Kelly green slip dress. Her unexpected tattoo, spelling out the word “Rebel,” instantly made me feel at home. Walking through the passageway covered in flora, I finally emerged into a central courtyard where an immersive tasting experience awaited me at the world’s smallest tequila bar, The Obsidian Bar. Clad in obsidian to provide guests a transportive experience that includes sipping tequilas and their terroir, the iconic stone culled from Casa Dragones’ own agave fields, the bar’s glass-like black volcanic stone polished tiles lined the front and vaulted boveda ceiling.

A kitchen built into a rustic stone archway, surrounded by lush green vines and pink flowers, with atmospheric lanterns hanging above.

Photo: Courtesy of Tequila Casa Dragones

But this wasn’t just any tasting experience. Casa Dragones was hosting an open house showcasing North America’s best bartenders in town for the World’s 50 Best Awards the following evening. The crowd was filled with a joie de vivre of passionate party people, with high standards and respect for true artisans. The bars lucky enough to be included in the gathering crafted innovative cocktail creations highlighting the impeccable taste of quality synonymous with Casa Dragones Tequila.

In Latin, agave means admirable, notable, and illustrious. And Casa Dragones’ four uniquely smooth tequila expressions embody this through its clarity, aroma, taste, and finish. Casa Dragones Joven has a complex, smooth taste that is perfect for sipping and pairing with a variety of cuisines, while Casa Dragones Blanco’s crisp, agave-forward taste is perfect for craft cocktails and on the rocks. Casa Dragones Añejo Barrel Blend is the result of aging their tequila in two styles of new wood casks, French (Sessile) and American (White Oak), then blending to achieve its distinctive, rich character. Their most recent expression, Casa Dragones Mizunara, 100% Blue Agave Reposado sipping tequila, is the first tequila rested exclusively in Mizunara, a rare oak native to Japan and traditionally used for aging Japanese whiskies. It is no wonder the Reposado has floral notes and pairs well with Japanese food.

Modern kitchen with cabinets and marble countertops, featuring a rugged stone ceiling, wooden beams, and a geometric hanging light fixture.

Photo: Courtesy of Tequila Casa Dragones

I loved hearing how the brand had to painstakingly convince Independent Japanese cask producers in Hokkaido to sell them two 500L barrels made from 200-year-old trees – and charred to seal. After COVID travel restrictions lifted, the Japanese came to taste and train the team how to maintain the oak. The maintenance is inspected and a contributing factor to how many casks Casa Dragones can purchase in the future. Needless to say, they have several dozen now.

A tranquil indoor garden with hanging white flowers, lush ferns, and large stone pots, framed by rustic stone archways.

Photo: Courtesy of Tequila Casa Dragones

Set in the former 17th-century stable for the Dragones cavalry, heroes of the Mexican Independence, La Casa Dragones is now transformed into a luxurious four-bedroom showcase of Mexican design. Throughout the space, there are nods to this legacy with vintage rocking horses, saddles, and remnant tools originally found in the space.

Outdoor view of bar with arched glass doors, stone walls, and a tree, with stools and a lit interior visible.

Photo: Courtesy of Tequila Casa Dragones

The building beautifully blends its rich history with mid-century Bajío and contemporary Mexican design. The renovation was awarded the prestigious Créateurs Design Award (Best Hospitality Project in Interior Design) and most recently, the LIV Hospitality Design Awards (Architectural Design Historic & Heritage, Interior Design; Bar Lounge, Interior Design Bar Lounge; and Interior Design Cocktail Bar).

Elegant bar interior with arched stone walls, marble countertop, and shelves of Casa Dragones bottles backlit by golden lighting.

Photo: Courtesy of Tequila Casa Dragones

The first female Maestra Tequilera, and Casa Dragones CEO and co-founder, Bertha González Nieves, who was the visionary behind the project, enlisted Will Meyer, co-founder of the multidisciplinary design studio Meyer Davis, to lead the restoration and redesign with Mexican leading design curator Ana Elena Mallet, who is currently a MoMA exhibition guest curator, and craftsman curator Raul Cabra. The collaborative project expresses the inherent principles of Casa Dragones tequila: innovation, quality, luxury, sustainability, and Mexican design.

While sipping tequila with Nieves, she explained how “La Casa Dragones showcases the best of Mexican design, culture, and experiences, against a historic backdrop. It is the perfect union of innovation and tradition – the embodiment of modern Mexico.”

Stylish bar interior with illuminated shelves displaying rows of Casa Dragones bottles against a textured marble backdrop.

Photo: Courtesy of Tequila Casa Dragones

The bottle design inspiration comes from a collection of bottles Bertha González Nieves saw at the Museo de Arte Popular, with a thin neck perfect for pouring into small glasses typical of sipping tequila. Each bottle is slightly different, but all are adorned with nods of blue found on the cavalry uniform, and a black ribbon as seen on their hats. Made from lead-free crystal, each piece is individually hand-engraved with intricate designs using a traditional Mexican technique called pepite. A grinding stone manually carves out patterns of small, decorative pepita-like shapes. The bottom of the bottle is adorned with an engraving of the agave plant from above as an homage. The design won the Grand Prix Stratégies du Lux, making Casa Dragones the first Mexican brand to receive this prestigious recognition.

Nieves also made clear her goal with Casa Dragones is to “Celebrate and expose the sophistication of Mexican Craftsmanship in everything we do.” Hour after hour, the revolving door of talent behind the Obsidian bar made for some incredible fusions of flavor. From North America’s numero uno Handshake, to Chicago’s Kumiko, Mexico City’s Selva, Fifty Mils, and SMA local favorite Bekeb, true talent was on display.

Modern boutique interior with curved LED lights on the ceiling, wooden counter, and shelves displaying Casa Dragones blue-packaged products.

Photo: Courtesy of Tequila Casa Dragones

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Lucky for all of us, there was also food! Out of the newly renovated kitchen built for collaborations and dinners with a 3 Michelin star chef came delectable bites by ARCA and Hortus. I had the pleasure of eating at Arca many moons ago. Their food is micro-seasonal and represents Tulum’s jungle paradise through creative dishes based on Mexican roots and traditions, with bold and explosive flavors cooked over open fire. Hortus showcased their Mexican twists on Mediterranean fare. But the night’s climax was the crowd serenading Limantour’s Jose Luis Leon with our best version of Happy Birthday in honor of his 36th birthday.

A glass cup on a kitchen counter with two banana slices garnishing the top, viewed from above with someone's feet visible in yellow shoes.

ARCA – Tropical Dragon Cask: Casa Dragones Reposado, Giffanrd Banana, Nami Sake, White Wine Syrup, Saline Solution \ Photo: TJ Girard of Taste:Work:Shop

Sliced black garlic bulbs showing purple and white cross-sections, placed on a dark plate.

ARCA – Pulpo Tostada: Recado Negro, Smoked Peanut Salsa Macha, Cotijo Cheese \ Photo: TJ Girard of Taste:Work:Shop

Four avocado toasts with evenly sliced avocado on a plate, set on a bed of small stones in bright sunlight.

ARCA – Porkbelly Tostón: Avocado, Gochujang Salsa, Cilantro \ Photo: TJ Girard of Taste:Work:Shop

A top view of a gourmet taco with colorful toppings on a gray, textured surface.

HORTUS blue corn tostada with spicy shrimp, and pickled pink radish \ Photo: TJ Girard of Taste:Work:Shop

A Casa Dragones cocktail with a lime slice on a round wooden table next to a wooden chair with metal bolts, on a textured black floor.

HANDSHAKE cocktail: Coconut & Fig Negroni \ Photo: TJ Girard of Taste:Work:Shop

A woman meticulously pours a clear beverage into cocktail glasses at a bar, surrounded by bottles. She has short dark hair and wears a black sleeveless top.

Selva Co-founder and Beverage Director : Alexandra Purcaru mixing an Sakura Martini
Casa Dragones Blanco, Mancino Sakura Vermouth, Sakura Flowers \ Photo: TJ Girard of Taste:Work:Shop

Woman in a white hat and dark vest gesturing while talking at a bar with shelves of Casa Dragones bottles and a stone wall backdrop.

BEKEB – Fabiola Padilla making Guyaba with Casa Dragones Blanco, Guayabe Puree, Xoconostle and Basil Cordial, Lemon, Coconut Milk Punch \ Photo: TJ Girard of Taste:Work:Shop

A bartender in a black blazer preparing Casa Dragones drinks with a bar spoon, standing behind a counter lined with bottles and glasses.

Julia Momosé Of Chicago’s Japanese influenced dining bar KUMIKO and author of The Way of the Cocktail making a Rosita Highball: Casa Dragones Reposado, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Junmai Sake, Gran Classico, Campari, Angostura Bitters \ Photo: TJ Girard of Taste:Work:Shop

Clear Casa Dragones cocktail in a glass with a speckled egg resting on top, set against a rugged stone backdrop.

FIFTY MILS – Nicolás Castro – Bar Manager
PUSS IN BOOTS: Casa Dragones Anejo, Orange Duck Fat Wasg, Lemon Black Bitter & Sage Wheat Beer Syrup, Oak Perfume \ Photo: TJ Girard of Taste:Work:Shop

Clearly, Casa Dragones seeks out quality and has an uncanny eye for design.

On April 30th, Casa Dragones will release a new artist-edition bottle design by Petrit Halilaj. This collaboration marks Casa Dragones’ Fourth Artist Edition and coincides with the 15th year of the brand and the debut of Halilaj’s Roof Garden Commission, Petrit Halilaj: Abetare for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The site-specific installation is the artist’s first major commission in the United States and is also set to debut on April 30th. Limited to 500 bottles, the Petrit Halilaj Artist Edition will be available for purchase on casadragones.com for $1,500 each and will be on display for the first time on April 30th at the after-party celebrating Halilaj’s Roof Garden Commission at the Met.

A blue box and a clear water bottle featuring Casa Dragones artistic graphics displayed on a gray stone surface in a spacious, sunlit lobby.

Photo: Courtesy of Tequila Casa Dragones

Titled “They Are Lucky to Be Bourgeois Hens,” the bottle features original artwork by Petrit Halilaj on a crystal decanter of Casa Dragones Joven. On the signature blue gift box, Halilaj reimagined the Casa Dragones logo, replacing the eagle with the ‘bourgeois hen,’ a creature central to his artistic expression. These hens symbolize nature in art and can be interpreted as a metaphor for his artistic evolution from a village background to a more sophisticated, “bourgeois” artist. For Halilaj, hens and roosters have been longstanding companions, symbolizing his ability to transform life experiences, including his time as a refugee during the Kosovo War (1998–1999). The hen symbolizes transformative potential. Feathers cascade downward on the bottle packaging, forming a constellation of stars.

Casa Dragones is available online at casadragones.com and throughout the U.S., Mexico, and select markets in Europe.

Source: design-milk

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