The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2013

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"I don't think enough people know mezcal, so I was trying to come up with a drink that had a very mainstream name to it," Brooks says. "Most of our guests, as well as most people in this part of the country, have heard the song "Red Solo Cup" or they've had an event where they're served drinks in red Solo cups." And when a guest orders the Red Solo Cup, the the waiter or waitress might just sing Keith's song as a bonus. "We try to have a fun bar," Brooks says. But the secret to Tumbleweed's success is much more than waiters singing songs. The bartenders are well-trained, the food is good and, hey, any place with 27 tequilas is bound to be successful. So when Brooks decided to add mezcal to the menu, chances were it would do well. But, why did he choose Wild Shot to be his lone mezcal? "I loved it," he says. "I've tasted some other mezcals, and none really were as appealing as Wild Shot. It is deinitely the smoothest mezcal I've ever tasted, and for me to drink it straight, it's that good. It's that smooth." And the fact that Wild Shot packs the traditional gusano, or worm, in the bottle has actually been a bonus, Brooks says. "Some people love the concept of the worm and will actually want to buy a drink with the worm in it," he says. "There's only one worm per bottle. That's why we offer a gummy worm." Brooks's waitstaff also inds ways to promote food pairings with mezcal drinks. "Mezcal has a wonderful smoky lavor and complements our food," he says. Servers will suggest pairing mezcal with steak, chicken and seafood. Brooks believes Tumbleweed is the perfect concept for mezcal pairings because all proteins are cooked on a mesquite wood-ired grill. "Not all concepts can do that with mezcal," Brooks says. But, as we've learned, not all casual chain-dining concepts are like Tumbleweed. It's an anomaly in the world of high-volume food programs. Brooks and Tumbleweed take an oldschool approach to dining. "Anytime you come to visit us at Tumbleweed, we'll guarantee to give you a good meal and some great drinks," Brooks says. Now that's not something you hear a chain saying every day. Red Solo Cup as served at Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill & Margarita Bar ◗ ◗ ◗ ◗ ◗ 1¼ oz. Wild Shot Silver Mezcal 2 oz. Tres Agaves Agave Syrup 3 oz. cranberry juice 1 oz. orange juice ½ oz. grenadine ◗ Mix and pour over ice in a red Solo cup with a salt rim. Float a gummy worm on top. january 2013 / the tasting panel / 89

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