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How Three Tequila and Mezcal Making Families are Celebrating Dia de los Muertos

How Three Tequila and Mezcal Making Families are Celebrating Dia de los Muertos

Kalle Bergman

Dia de los Muertos is a deeply spiritual family Holiday in Mexican culture, and it has strong connections to food and drinks as well. We caught up with three tequila and mezcal making families to hear how they will be navigating this year’s celebration.

While Dia de los Muertos – Day of the Dead – has always been about celebrating ancestors together with loved ones, 2020 has certainly thrown a curveball at large gatherings and parties outside of the immediate family. To find out how families in the mezcal and tequila making world are tackling this year’s special circumstances, we checked in with the owners behind three of the most interesting brands on the market.

Mark & Cristina Howard, Co-Owners of Chamucos Tequila:
This Dia De Los Muertos, we will be having a small family dinner where we will be cutting “papel picado” that we can use for Christmas decorations while sipping on Tequila Chamucos neat or in a spiked “Champurrado.” It is a fun handcraft and all you need is tissue paper and scissors.

What are you looking forward to the most this Dia de los Muertos and why?
Usually at the beginning of October you start seeing in every bakery the traditional “Pan de Muerto”. We always look forward to it. It is delicious and we enjoy it with some hot chocolate or a shot of extra añejo as many nights as possible during this season.

What are some of your favorite memories connected to Dia de los Muertos and why?
Building the altar with the family. As we build it we talk about our loved ones that we are trying to honor. From choosing the right picture and placing some of their favorite foods and objects on the altar.

The moment when we light the candles is very magical. We feel as our loved ones are there.

Any tips on how consumers can still make the holiday a family event despite quarantine?
In our family during quarantine we started a book club, each one chooses a book every two weeks and then we connect thru video chat to comment on it. This Dia de los Muertos or Halloween it would be fun and very interactive to choose a scary story by a Mexican author that you can later discuss and have fun chatting about with your family.

Mexico as we know has a very close relationship with prehispanic mystical creatures (like Chamucos) and in more modern times with pop culture stories that circulate mouth to mouth (like the llorona). Many of these tales have been used to scare children, but as we grow we became less susceptible and find these stories a great source of entertainment.

What is your favorite thing to eat and drink for the holiday?
We love Mole Verde made with Chile Poblano and pumpkin seeds and of course the traditional Pan de Muerto paired with “Champurrado” spiked with Tequila Chamucos Extra añejo.

Abelardo Orendain, Co-Owner of Bribon Tequila

Most Mexican families make “Sus Altares de Muertos” (Day of the Dead altars) at home. This is a yearly tradition, regardless of the situation we are currently going through. Family junction is the main goal while we remember and honor our loved ones with what they liked and enjoyed in life. Being at
home, remembering special moments with loved ones who have transcended is the best way to celebrate.

Any tips on how consumers can still make the holiday a family event despite quarantine?
This is a sacred holiday for Mexicans. Therefore, being at home, remembering special moments with loved ones who have transcended is the best way to celebrate.

What is your favorite thing to eat and drink for the holiday?
This day is about “Nuestros Muertos” (Our Dead), in addition to putting their favorite foods and drinks on the Altars, “Los Vivos” ( The Alives ) also eat and drink the same so that, in a certain way, we can feel them alive with us. Typical dishes are, Mole, Tamales, Pozole, Tacos, Chilaquiles, and Pan Dulce, Mezcal and Tequla. The muertos bread and a nice hot chocolate is especially nostalgic for me.

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Xaime Niembro, Co-Owner of Gracias a Dios

We won’t have any new traditions as we respect the existing ones. We will go and get some corn from our fields to make tortillas, go to the market to buy ingredients to make mole, distill a mezcal de pechuga in order to have a special spirit, cook all together, drink altogether, and talk about the people that we are honoring. This year it will be a more intimate celebration.

We love assembling the Altar de Muertos. It’s an opportunity to remember those who are no longer with us, by honoring them with their pictures, favorite foods, music, and beverages. We remember them with our friends and family even though we will be apart this year, we can still share stories and good memories of them. It’s a day dedicated to them.

What are some of your favorite memories connected to Dia de los Muertos and why?
Spending time with the family, cooking together, and making the favorite dishes of the people we’re honoring, listening to their favorite music, drinking mezcal. And of course, making mezcal de pechuga is one of our favorite memories.

Any tips on how consumers can still make the holiday a family event despite quarantine?
Cook, drink, and dance, honor someone special, no need to be somewhere else.

What is your favorite thing to eat and drink for the holiday?
Mole (negro, colorado, amarillito), rice and mezcal.

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