Mixologist of the Month: Danielle Griffin

The Tequila Goddess of La Hacienda, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Danielle Griffin’s official title at Richard Sandoval’s restaurant, La Hacienda, is Tequila Goddess, and it’s easy to see why. The blue-eyed beauty is an Arizona native who has transformed her spirited bartending skills into a passion that involves teaching Tequila appreciation.

“Tequila is no longer a drink you just stick a lime in and down,” Griffin says, watching a guest sip Herradura Reposado from a Riedel glass. She explains how the legs seen in the glass are called tears in Mexico. “The slower they move, the more full bodied the Tequila.”

“Tequila has become so refined in the last decade,” Griffin continues, “and you’re paying for the process.” La Hacienda, for example, charges $220 for a shot of Dos Lunas Grand Reserve. That’s good reason to learn more about the sometimes smoky, sometimes spicy, sometimes smooth-sipping spirit born of 300-year-old traditions.

Griffin had to earn the honor of teaching about Tequila by participating in a training program designed by Mexico’s Tequila Regulatory Council, El Consejo Regulador del Tequila. In April, she became one of seven who have thus far been granted “Award T” accreditation. In Tequila terminology, this is similar to sommelier status. Her newfound knowledge brings new tasting classes, new cocktails and tasting flights and more ways to enjoy Tequila: Tequila snowcones, for example.

La Hacienda carries 200 certified ceramic, crystal or handblown glass bottles of Mexico’s national spirit on its shelves—each of them a work of art. While organic and celebrity Tequilas are trendy right now, Griffin’s favorites come from the lowlands and have a spicy, citrusy flavor. Partida Blanco is one of her go-to bottles. “I’ll drink it at breakfast if I’m having chorizo and eggs,” she says.

Try this Tequila Goddess recipe!

La Cortez

After visiting haciendas in Guadalajara, touring Tequila distilleries and cutting down agave plants with the jimadores (harvesters), Danielle Griffin shares her understanding of the Tequila culture with this refreshing cocktail named after a Spanish conquistador.

½ ounce Kiwi purée
4 cucumber slices
4 ounces fresh lime juice
2 ounces Partida Blanco Tequila
1½ ounce agave nectar
5 fresh cut watermelon cubes

Muddle the kiwi purée and cucumbers in lime juice. Add ice and Tequila. Add agave nectar and watermelon cubes. Shake and serve on the rocks. Garnish with cucumber slices.

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