BIT Blog

An Iguana Attends Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is my favorite national Mexican holiday. That makes sense considering it’s the Mexican version of Halloween, which is Mittie Iguana’s favorite holiday stateside (though Day of the Dead long predates it and is significantly cooler.) It happens between October 31st and November 2nd and while it is in conjunction with the Catholic holiday All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2), it is one of the greatest parties of the year. Yet another great excuse to break out the tequila, only this time it’s to honor the dead.

Sean Reagan Photography

Sean Reagan Photography

The celebration of Day of the Dead in Mexico reaches back 3000 years to various indigenous peoples who celebrated their ancestors and used symbols such as the human skull to represent life and death. More specifically, hundreds of years ago the Aztecs had a month long festival in the fall honoring “the Lady of the Dead,” currently know as the Catrina. 

The Catrina is still the most prominent symbol of Day of the Dead here in Mexico. They are skeletons in dressed in elegant dresses, gloves and enormous hats with flowers. They may be presented in sculpture, rice and bean mosaics, and even as tequila drinking fools (like yours truly) who dress up as Catrinas to party (with respect of course.) Other symbols include delicately decorated sugar skulls (less gruesome than the real thing), prayer flags and marigolds.

Sean Reagan Photography

Sean Reagan Photography

The modern celebration enters around building altars for the loved ones who have died or to honor long-since passed ancestors. Often, people create altars for famous public figures who have died like Frida Kahlo or Diego Rivera. The altar usually consists of a photo of the person surrounded by their favorite things and fresh marigolds. Their favorite things traditionally include food and drinks, particularly of the alcoholic variety. As you can imagine the most popular booze around these parts is tequila …and so we indulge in honor of those who have gone before us and of the many agaves that died to produce our beverage of choice.

An Iguana's History of the Caballito

Here in Mexico, caballito is a very common word. This “little horse” refers the traditional tall, thin shot glass holding between 1 and 2 ounces of tequila. For sipping, of course. We all know tequila is not to shoot …unless you’ve clearly had way too many and the floor is starting to blur. Or you’re toting a gun.

Little horses got their name because men often found it funny to have their horses piss in each other’s tequilas when they weren’t looking. Just kidding. We only do that in the office. Really the name descends from cuernito, which means “little horn.” They removed the interior of bull or cow horns and cleaned them to make a manly looking chalice of sorts. They didn’t, however, have the option to set it down until the libation had been finished (a sneaky way to get people drunk really fast.) Considering the limited number of horns, there was a slam and pass philosophy. 

Man chalice, otherwise known as cuernito

The classic caballito holding the classic Bandera de Mexico Later, the tip was removed so a drinker could take their time, and it was this design that became the modern caballito. They do still make the traditional horn cups and I want to say, as an official statement, that if you drink Blue Iguana Tequila out of one I will consider you a bonafide badass. Just to be clear.

Recently, the CRT decided on a more uppity tequila glass, which resembles a wine glass with the classic tall stem and tapered bowl. Riedel makes the CRT approved version because it “highlights and enhances the characteristics” of a good tequila. Some tequila experts prefer añejos in a snifter because the shape traps the scents more efficiently. While fancy glasses are nice and all, they break a lot easier. Especially if you’re loaded. And down here in Mexico, little has changed. Most still proudly rock the caballito. This iguana is one of them.

For a great source of tequila know-how, visit Ian Chadwick's informative site. 

Iguanas on Independence Day

Walking out of my friend Carrie’s house, just on the outskirts of downtown, tequila (illegally) in hand, I smelled the aroma of fresh tortillas and roasting meat floating through the air. We were heading downtown to immerse ourselves in the festivities, including the swarm of half-dressed, underage kids from Mexico City (it is the biggest city in the world, you know.)

Turning the corner out of Colonia Guadalupe onto Calzada de La Luz, we were greeted by a group of mounted horses, people dressed in all white with red sashes and enormous torches. Yes torches, though at this point, they were unlit. It was the start of the parade. Tequila had done us right, leading us to just the right moment - the re-enactment of Miguel Hidalgo’s revolution march, otherwise known as El Grito (The Liberty Yell.)

They lit the ceremonial cloth wrapped sticks and chanted, led by a man posing as Miguel Hidalgo, “Viva Mexico!”  Many streets were closed and we followed their flickering lights all the way down to the Jardin, our town square, where enormous sculptures made of fireworks towered above us looking like carnival pinwheels. The Parrochia, the massive cathedral and un-missable icon of San Miguel, was lit up like a Christmas tree. Just before crossing into what is officially centro, the police kindly asked me if I could finish my plastic cup of tequila before entering (significantly nicer than TSA agent in the airport, I might add.)

So I did. Encircling the town square, festive items like flags, tri-colored sombreros, horns and tee-shirts sat alongside the regular vending stalls’ gum and soda. Nearly everyone had on red, white and green, and many more had flags painted on their faces. Fireworks ensued, and we stood shoulder to shoulder with our paisanos (countrymen), as the brilliant light exploded above us, banners of Miguel Hidalgo sparkling in its reflection.

In honor of revolution, I raise my caballito to liberty, to Mexico and to tequila. 

Revolution Cocktail Recipe

The year is 1810 and Spain holds a tight territorial leash on our dear country Mexico. It is an early September morning and an oppressed Mexican community awaits a priest named Hidalgo on their beloved church steps in the city of Dolores. They did not know that the words they would soon hear would catapult their lives into liberation. It is on September 16th  of the year 1810 that Catholic Priest , Hidalgo, ignited the fire in the indigenous people to retaliate against their oppressors. This revolutionary events is known as the “Cry of Dolores “ and celebrated today as the Mexican ‘Dia de Independencia’ .

Fast forward to the year 2011. Don Roger launches a world class product that starts a revolution of its own. It’s a spirit that preserves the flavor of the marvelous Agave Weber plant while celebrating the rich culture of Mexico. If you haven't had the pleasure of experiencing it for yourself, we can assure you – it’s the perfect combination for your Dia de Indepencia festivities. 

See how we tied that little history lesson together? 

So, maybe you find yourself hosting a Dia de independence party? We’ve taken the liberty of finding the ideal drink recipe for the occasion: the Mexico Revolution!

Remember to drink responsibly, enjoy and Viva Mexico !!!!

México Revolucion: A fresh drink full of life, just like our México, querido y lindo.

•      2 oz.  of Tequila REVOLUCION 100 PROOF

•      1 lime

•      1 lime supreme

•      Lime zest (1/2 lime)

•      Orange zest (1/4 orange)

•      1 dash of Natural Syrup

•      Grain salt

•      Worm salt

Stir the lime juice in a glass with a touch of natural syrup. Then, add crushed ice and the lime and orange zest. Last, add the grain salt. Serve it up with a shot of tequila. Stir the shot into the glass and observe how the elements merge while you pour it.

TIP: If you do not have worm salt, frost the glass with salt, mixed with ground-roasted peppers.


An Iguana Speaks of Revolution

Mexico’s independence stemmed from one badass revolution. It’s been 206 years since the fateful day, when Hidalgo rang the church bell to call the people to fight for their freedom. So we’ll be celebrating El Grito, or the scream, (with a lot of tequila I might add) from late Thursday September 15th to early Friday September 16th.

When the Spanish moseyed into Mexico, looking for gold, they brought with them a slew of diseases to which they were immune from sleeping in close quarters with farm animals (get your mind out of the gutter!) The indigenous peeps didn’t domesticate animals to that extent, and thus, hadn’t developed any resistance. 

Also, Mexico’s people hadn’t been united in the common sense of the word. They were united against a common enemy, The Aztecs. With that handy tool under their belt, the Spanish waltzed in and laid claim to Nueva España, enslaving the Mesoamerican peoples in the name of conquest. Imagine this: their population dropped from 20 million to only 1 million. It was cultural decimation.

Strangely enough, the spark that ignited the revolution lay not in the abused hands of the indigenous people but rather the first generation Spaniards who were born in Mexico. Tired of being treated as second class citizens of the crown, they got pissed and started to stir things up. Further influenced by French revolutionary writers like Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Voltaire, they demanded their independence with a side of democracy.

This bode well for the native Mexicans who 100 yrs later overthrew a long-reigning dictator, Porfio Diaz. It wasn’t grass-roots nor aristocratic. It was a revolution fought by people of all classes, sexes and ages. Men fought alongside women and children. This is what revolution is about – an idea that permeates through all the bureaucratic crap to set people free.

So our celebration of Independence Day is a two for one. We celebrate fighting for rights and what you believe is right. After that’s all said and done, we fight to drink more tequila.

A Broken Heart: the Mythical Birth of the Agave

Tequila is one of the most popular alcohols in North America and is the first known distilled beverage, dating back to the early 16th century. It has been known as mescal wine, mescal brandy and agave wine. The original drink of the maguey before distillation is called pulque and dates back to 1000 B.C. or possibly earlier. The name tequila is adapted from a Nahuatl or Aztec word, teuitl, meaning “work, duty, job or task” and is associated with the terms “place of work”, “place of harvesting plants” and also “the rock that cuts” referring to the obsidian that is plentiful in the Tequila, Jalisco area. Formed by the volcano that erupted over 200,000 years ago, the obsidian created the legend to the dragon that resides in the Volcan de Tequila.

There are often creation legends born from ancient cultures. The legend of the nectar of agave is about a love affair of the gods. Tzinzimiti, the goddess of darkness, swallowed up the light and left the land in darkness. The Aztecs made human sacrifices to her in an attempt to keep the sunshine. Quetzalcoatl, a feathered serpent god, went to the heavens to fight the goddess and return the sunlight to the land. In his ascension, he met the granddaughter of the goddess, Mayahuel, the goddess of fertility and they fell in love and returned to Earth to live as trees so they would not be found. Tzinzimiti was very jealous of her granddaughter and came to Earth to find and kill her. Mayahuel died in the arms of her lover and he went in search of Tzinzimiti again for his revenge. An Agave grew from her burial mound with pointed leaves to protect her from falling objects and with 400 thorns to represent her 400 breasts - remember she was the goddess of fertility! The other gods saw how Quetzalcoatl cried at her grave and struck the Agave with lightning creating a sweet tasting and smelling sap that oozed from the Agave. If ingested could comfort him and erase the painful memories of his lost lover. The pure nectar was used as a sweetener and as it fermented into a strong visionary drink, known as pulque, and drank by the priests and nobility of the Nahuatl.

Later, after the Mexican revolution, pulque became looked down upon as a drink of the poor and indigenous and the “new” Mexico wanted a more refined drink - tequila. The golden age of cinema in Mexico during the 1940’s brought the ever growing in popularity tequila into the limelight and the general public were taught through films that tequila was a drink for all occasions and even some women were drinking it. Today tequila is one of the most popular drinks of Mexico and North America and still has the reputation to heal whatever ails you, especially if you need comfort or courage …and even more especially to heal a broken heart. 

Iguanas at the Alborada

The Alborada is one of the many amazing parties of San Miguel de Allende, where our office is located. San Miguel is famous for their fiestas and this is one of the biggies. First of all, it starts at 4 in the morning. Yeah, that’s right. Starts. Second, it boasts of one night with the largest quantity of fireworks in the whole year. And folks, we are in Mexico where fireworks are an art form. Sleep? Pointless. Might as well sign on for a wicked party.

San Miguel is named after St. Mike making him the patron saint of the city. The day of celebration is the feast of St. Mike, however these are party people, so the festivities may last for a week or more (my kind of people.) So when is this rocking event so you can run out and buy a plane ticket? Whammy! It was last weekend. But in honor of all you fabulous readers out there I rallied for the cause and drank enough tequila for all of us.

Saint Mike, the Archangel, is pretty much the meanest, leather-clad biker of the angel world. God picked this tough as nails angel to fight Lucifer (AKA El Diablo) and exile him to hell. Just as a side note, the next time you want to tell someone to go to hell you can just call in St. Mike, the first Hell’s Angel. Processions carry the image of St. Mike to various churches to bless them and music and dance follows from place to place.

The culmination of this enormous party is the fireworks show that represents the aforementioned battle. It happens at dawn (el alborada in Spanish), at the moment when the light overtakes the darkness. Man, do they know how to light some fireworks in this place! It never ceases to amaze me. They don’t even need the sun to win the fight. Just an ample supply of tequila.