Similarly to the French government’s involvement in the production of Champagne, the Mexican Federal Government closely regulates the production of Tequila. The Declaration for the Protection of the Appelation of Origin Tequila (DOT) states that only alcoholic beverages made with agave azul (agave tequila weber blue variety) grown in an officially demarcated area, under specifications given by the Official Standard for Tequila, can be labeled and sold as “Tequila.”
To maintain these standards and help educate restaurants, the Mexican government’s Tequila Regulatory Council issues CRT Award T Certification for restaurants around the world that successfully complete training to demonstrate their commitment and knowledge of Tequila.
The goal of the “Award T” certification is to raise interest and knowledge about tequila – the main requirement for the restaurant to receive this certification was 80% of the staff successfully passing a written test after going through ten hours of training with a representative from the Mexican Consulate discussing tequila guidelines, the history of tequila, cultivation and harvesting of Agave and the production process for making Tequila. Other requirements included confirming the restaurant only purchases and serves Tequila that is certified by CRT, the menu of drinks/cocktails/food dishes that the restaurant serves using Tequila and the method for disposing used bottles. To maintain the certification, annual or semi-annual inspections are conducted of the restaurant.
Currently, an elite group of approx. 40 restaurants worldwide hold a CRT Award T Certification, and Geronimo Tequila Bar and Southwest Grill in New Haven and Fairfield, CT recently joined this list. Geronimo houses the largest selection of Tequila on the East Coast with over 400 options, the largest on the East Coast, including their own labeled Herradura Double Aged Tequila. The restaurant’s owners take Tequila very seriously, even having traveled to Mexico to learn more about Tequila and its production process to bring this knowledge back to the team in Connecticut. After more than 50 members of the Geronimo team completed the education and successfully passed the test, individual certifications were provided as well as a plaque alerting patrons to the restaurant’s receipt of this certificate.
Total Food Service sat down with Geronimo Tequila Bar and Southwest Grill’s Partner and Director of Operations, Tim Scott to discuss their CRT Award T Certification and recognition their commitment and knowledge of Tequila.
Tell us a little about yourself and your experience in hospitality?
I’m French Culinary trained with 31 years of experience in the industry.
How long has Geronimo been in operation?
We’re celebrating 10 years in New Haven and going on 4 years in Fairfield.
How did the deal come to be?
My partner Marc Knight traveled may years to Santa Fe and wanted to bring that same feel to New Haven with Robert Bolduc and myself.
What’s the concept behind Geronimo and why Tequila?
The goal was to transplant a Sante Fe Southwestern Restaurant to Connecticut with the many different flavors of quality tequila. When we select tequilas for our restaurants, its usually the case of what’s currently available, then of course the actual quality. It must be 100% Blue Nebac Agave tequila and offer special attributes.
What’s type of entrées do you pair your tequilas with and does Geronimo have their own tequila brand?
Tequila goes well with a variety of menu options we offer, but our guests love pairing it with one of our signature dishes which is Pork Pibil – marinated slow braised pork in a banana leaf, laced with tequila, pickled red onion, Sierra Nevada black beans, and poblano-cilantro rice. We’ve also been producing our own tequila since 2010. It’s a Herradura tequila aged 11 months in Jack Daniels barrels, then aged an additional month in a brand new oak barrel which intensifies the flavors.
What prompted the “Award T” certification and what does that mean for your locations?
Striving for excellence and being recognized by the Mexican government for our dedication to the quality of tequila. It creates better awareness to the details of how tequila is produced and what quality tequila should be. We’re so proud of what this certification means for our business, but there’s still much more awareness our industry needs to know.
To learn more about Geronimo Tequila Bar and Southwest Grill, visit their website.