Although 1800 may be best known for their swivel-top design that doubles as a shot glass (and has been lauded by Michael Imperioli AKA Christopher from The Sopranos) - its also been engaging aspiring artists from around the world to design limited edition runs of its blanco tequila. By collaborating with contemporary and ethnic artists, 1800 emphasizes both its Mexican heritage and its modern brand philosophy. Only 1,800 of these limited-edition, collectible bottles are available so act now if the Mexican wrestling theme appeals to you.
Well, this is an old standby. Nonetheless, people don’t tend to mix themselves up classic margaritas these days. Everything is frozen, or passion fruit, or pomegranate or fancied-up with Mescal or…you get the point.
So here’s an appeal to the logical side of all the drinkers out there - there’s no better margarita than the classic, mixed up carefully with quality tequila and poured over ice into a salted glass. You don’t need to do shots. You don’t need to be outside or at some tropical location or a theme party. You just need to be in the mood for a potent and refreshing margarita. Without further adieu, a recipe:
2 parts ultra-premium blanco tequila (I prefer Don Julio)
1 part Cointreau (not Triple Sec)
1 part freshly-squeezed lime juice
A dash of sugar to sweeten
Salt and lime wedges to garnish
It’s easy, but it’s also easy to screw up by using cheap liquor. I always preach that one should spoil oneself with fine booze at all times possible, but when it comes to tequila it’s actually of utmost importance not to use the bad stuff. Tequila packs quite a punch in any form, but in order for the smoothest and most refreshing margarita, expensive blancos should be used so that there’s no unpleasant “bite” or aftertaste.
Chill a glass in the freezer (I like to use tumblers to class-up the joint, in lieu of those tacky margarita glasses), run a lime around the lip of the cup and dip into a plate of coarse salt. Fill with cubes of ice, pour the mixed margarita in and enjoy.
The world of spirits marketing is a fickle one. Some liquors like scotch whisky and wine are all quite different from each other - requiring branding and advertising that will call out the particular liquid’s special properties while aligning it within the market as a non-premium, premium or super-premium offering. When it comes to vodka, however, there are essentially two categories: good and bad - and the marketing of a new entry into that category has to consist almost entirely of lifestyle imagery and collaborations. Gin and beer tend to fall in between these two extremes. Nonetheless, there is always one aspect of introducing a new spirit into the market that is often overlooked in both selling-power and branding potential: packaging.
I’m not saying that brands don’t pay attention to packaging, for it’s clear that most beer, wine and spirits conglomerates take painstaking steps in order to make sure their bottles “speak” to the exact personalities and price-points of their brands (it’s no coincidence that Belvedere and Grey Goose bottles are literally too tall to reside anywhere but the top shelf). What I am saying, however, is that fledging brands that focus a large amount of their time and energy on packaging will, and should, receive more free press, word of mouth attention and (hopefully) sales. Look how well it has worked for Absolut.
Creativity is key in package design when it comes to liquor - since if a design team gets too “artsy” the bottles can end up looking like delicate perfume spritzers, yet if they focus too much on tradition and heritage the end result can be a bottle that blends in to the crowd of competitors. Great design is clean, elegant and emphasizes subtle quirks - just think about Johnnie Walker’s iconically off-kilter front label.
Here’s a few examples of bottles that have garnered positive design attention, and rightfully so. See Vinkara’s “Fun & Playful” Pinot Noir (above).
The Kraken Black Spiced Rum is named after a famed sea monster, the scourge of both pirates and admirals alike - so it makes sense that the bottle is striking, classic and just a little kitschy.
Witty product design for Dapper beer. If only their tagline was “the Mad Men of brews.”
Balblair is a lesser-known yet ultra-premium scotch out of the second-oldest distillery in Scotland. For a special edition of their 1989 vintage, they wrapped their traditional bottle in an iconic tartan.
Yes - this is Justin Timberlake’s tequila - but whoever designed this blanco’s case did an excellent job of keeping it looking clean, luxurious and stand-alone in a realm of tequila bottles that all tend to be short, stout and modeled after Patron. No denim tuxedo on this one.