Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 10/6/19
Small-Batch Tequilas and Bites from Atlanta’s Best Chefs Bring True Taste of
Mexico’s Culture to Piedmont Park
Promenade at Piedmont Park at Noon
ATLANTA – On Saturday, Oct. 26, famed tequila importer and connoisseur Juan Bonilla and Atlanta event producer Sean O’Keefe are hosting the second annual ¡Viva Tequila! Festival, a one-of-a-kind tequila tasting experience and cultural extravaganza that pairs 25 top Atlanta restaurants with 25 of the world’s finest boutique tequilas. Attendees also will enjoy live music and other performances, plus local and imported artisan goods. The high-end and high-spirited festivities, which benefit the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance, take place under the tents at The Promenade at Piedmont Park.
“Our goal is to give guests a completely different understanding of how the spirit works in a gastronomic context. Many people have bad experiences with tequila when they are younger, but we are trying to teach them to give tequila another chance,” says Bonilla. “The greatest reward is how people’s perceptions change once they realize how good quality tequila tastes and how well it pairs with different types of food.”
The tasting event begins at 12:00 p.m. and includes unlimited access to small bites and top-shelf tequila pairings until 5 p.m. Offering incredible value, general admission ($75) to the ¡Viva Tequila! Festival also includes a DJ, live entertainment from traditional Mexican dancers to Mariachi bands, and vendors showcasing paintings, artifacts, clothing and jewelry. For attendees who want to continue the fun and experience live music plus even more exceptional tequilas, VIP tickets ($150) include access to the ¡Viva Noche! After Party from 6-9 p.m. In its inaugural event in 2018, the festival hosted 2,000 attendees and expects closer to 5,000 this year.
A portion of the festival’s proceeds benefits the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing awareness and educating women, their families and the health care community about risks, symptoms and treatment of ovarian cancer leading to earlier detection. Bonilla feels strongly about serving high-quality products that won’t increase the risk for diseases, and GOCA’s cause is one that is close to his heart.
Participating restaurants include, Casa Cielo, Loca Luna, Eclipse di Luna, Cabo’s Mexican Grill, Santa Lucia Brizilian Steakhouse, Seven Tequilas Mexican Restaurant, HOLA! Taqueria and Bar, La Parrilla Mexican Restaurant, Zocalo Mexican Kitchen and Cantina and Doraku. Each is paired with premium tequila brands not widely available in the United States such as Don Nacho, Don Fernando, Mi Tierra, Padre Azul, Don Celso and Siempre tequilas.
Differentiating itself from the multitude of other food and beverage festivals throughout Atlanta, the ¡Viva Tequila! Festival is a sipping event that showcases tequila’s diversity and how the spirit can be elevated with specific food pairings from Atlanta chefs. Bonilla is encouraging his guests to try food with the tequila and seeks to separate the spirit from the “shots on Cinco de Mayo” stereotype.
“People in the United States don’t see tequila as something you eat with, it’s seen as more of a party drink, but the reality is it’s one of the most expensive spirits on the planet,” says Bonilla. “We’re trying to get people to recognize why it tastes so good and the cost behind it.”
Bonilla’s family owned a great deal of land in the Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacán, where tequila is produced, and he became passionate about and highly involved in the tequila industry from a young age. With first-hand experience farming and cooking the agave plants to producing the tequila, he went on to serve as an ambassador for the spirit and has been a tequila and mezcal importer for the past decade. Bonilla also holds one of the largest collections (over 400 bottles) in the world. “It’s so much more than the spirit for me; tequila represents the culture of Mexico,” he says.
For Bonilla, educating consumers is a year-round initiative that doesn’t end with the ¡Viva Tequila! Festival. He also offers a more intimate tequila dinner series throughout the year at local Atlanta-area restaurants to increase awareness and enjoyment of tequila in a different setting, and leads small group trips to Mexico for travelers interested in visiting distilleries and learning how tequila is produced.
The Promenade is an open-air venue located on the Greensward Path in Piedmont Park. Tickets to the festival are available for purchase on Eventbrite. Guests must be at least 21 years of age to attend.