And this year, you can get in on the ground floor of what could be Mammoth’s next signature event: The Mammoth Margarita Festival.
The event will take place August 10 and 11 in the Village at Mammoth Plaza, and will feature 15 different tequila distilleries and four bands, headlined by Caravanserai, a Santana tribute band that’s so good it’s the only Santana tribute band actually recognized by Carlos Santana.
The event was conceived by the ¡Three Amigos! — Mark Deeds, and Gomez’s Restaurant owners Michael Ledesma and Russ Squier.
Thank God for the intervention of fate and Ledesma.
Deeds was intent on creating a new summer event this year, saw there was an open weekend after Bluesapalooza, had applied for and been granted $6,000 in Measure U money, and was casting about for ideas when he ran into Ledesma at the Oaktree’s Garden Center on Old Mammoth Road next to Brett Walters Insurance/DMV and Mountain Living.
Both share an interest in Gypsy King-style Latin music and tequila, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch to say, “Hey, let’s create an event … around Latin music and tequila.”
The only issue was time. They had 60 days to throw an event together.
But on the plus side, as soon as Deeds and Ledesma began calling tequila distilleries, everyone said yes – they wanted in. In fact, Ledesma had to turn away some vendors, which is unheard of for a first-year event.
But as an August 2011 story by Manuel Rueda for Reuters proclaimed, “Americans are drinking record amounts of tequila even as they migrate toward more expensive and pure varieties that are sipped slowly and savored rather than chugged down in shotglasses with salt and lime.”
Overall, wrote Rueda, sales of tequila in the United States have grown by 47 percent since 2003. U.S. sales of tequila bottles within the $20 wholesale price range have gone up by 129 percent, and sales of bottles priced at $22 and up, known in the industry as the super premium category, increased by 317 percent.
As the event’s commemorative 5 oz. brandy snifter glasses proclaim, “Sip, don’t shoot,” and Squier says, “This is not spring break in Tijuana.”
Sheet: But I thought tequila makes her clothes fall off.
Squier: We will not be playing Kenny Chesney on a loop.
Not only are Squier and Ledesma familiar with Chesney’s music, they also know a thing or two about tequila. Gomez’s features one of the largest selections of tequila in California, serving approximately 320 different varieties ranging in price from $5 to $250 a shot.
“Probably half of all our drink sales are margaritas,” says Squier, who says the Margarita Festival will appropriately feature a Margarita bar.
The Margarita Festival will co-opt the Village’s Summer Concert series on Friday night and feature two artists, flamenco guitarists Cale and a guitar/violin duo, Vincent and Vedant. Music starts at 6 p.m. and the margarita bar will be in full operation.
Saturday’s tequila tasting will take place between 4-7 p.m. You can buy tickets by logging onto www.mammothmargaritafestival.com or purchase them at the event … $20 for tequila only or $30 for tequila and margarita. Advance purchases receive a $5 discount. The first 100 purchases receive a t-shirt.
On Saturday, Vincent and Vedant will open at 4 p.m., followed by the Ruckatan Latin Tribe, a latin and reggae fusion band, at 6 p.m. and Caravanserai at 8 p.m.
Food vendors at the event (Side Door, Gomez, Lakanuki, Toomey’s) will offer tapa-style selections.
The event is being sponsored by the Village at Mammoth, Measure U and Gomez’s with lodging support provided by Mammoth Mountain, Snowcreek, the Westin Monache, Seasons 4 and 1849 Condominiums.