Mistakenly thinking that I have a big enough audience to warrant courting, a marketer recently sent me some Cabo Wabo Reposado (warning: annoying site music) and Campari (the website is to enable Campari drinkers to share “red passion” with each other, which sounds like a terrible euphemism: seriously, guys, think) to review. The Cabo Wabo makes sense – reviewing posts, I realize that I write about and mix with tequila a lot, and, with the Cabo Wabo, I have six bottles of tequila/mezcal, far outnumbering any other base spirit. Weird. The Campari is less easily explicable, since I am pretty sure everyone in the world has tasted it by now. So I’ll save time and review the Campari right now: it tasted exactly like it always does. Bitter, grapefruit, a little spicy, slightly too syrupy, but, you know, good.
First off, I would like to congratulate Cabo Wabo’s marketing directors on classing up their bottles, although Cabo Wabo has never been a top offender in the tequila bottle category. The original (top) reminded everyone that Cabo Wabo was owned by Sammy Hagar, a fact that did not scream “quality tequila” (although Hagar himself screams many things). After acquiring an ownership share in the distillery, Gruppo Campari has tried to class up the brand, something I appreciate if I’m going to have a bottle of the stuff hanging around. The new one goes a little too far in the bachelor-pad direction, but it’s a start. Beggars can’t, after all, be choosers. Oh, but that silly wooden-top/cork-stopper thing came apart the very first time I opened the bottle. Pull it together, Cabo Wabo!
Nevertheless, the extra class is, in fact, is a good thing, since the tequila itself is perfectly decent. It’s a fairly expensive tequila, but it compared well enough to both the El Tesoro don Felipe (the NYT’s pick, in fact) and the Tequila Chamucos that I have been mixing with for the last couple months, both of which fall into that general price range. It’s less assertive than the El Tesoro, with more citrus and tropical fruit, and less smoke and salt. It’s more or less similar to the Chamucos, but in a blind testing the girlfriend and I found that we actually preferred the Cabo Wabo by a hair. I expect the difference would disappear when mixing.
The Cabo Wabo will go fine in any tequila-based drink you like. Recently, I tried it in a tequila-variation on a Jack Rose, made to test out my new, homemade grenadine (using the hot process method). The cocktail turned out very well, mostly, I believe, due to my new grenadine. But, you know, the tequila was good, too.
- 2 oz reposado tequila (in this case I used Cabo Wabo, but don’t stress about it)
- 3/4-1 oz lime juice (just use the juice of a whole lime)
- 1/4-1/2 oz grenadine (homemade; if not, Stirrings is not too bad, but not very colorful)
Shake all ingredients over ice, strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a homemade cocktail cherry.
As far as I know, I have no justification for calling this a Carlos Slim besides the whole “name a drink made with tequila after something to do with Mexico” thing (cultural caricaturization much?). But ever since I read the New Yorker article on the guy, I’ve had his name in the back of my mind. Carlos Slim? Is that a name that begs to be made into a cocktail, or isn’t it? Amiright? Of course I am.
Anyway, final verdict? Seems like a decent enough tequila. The $50 price tag (Binny’s has it for less, actually) is a little steep for something associated with Sammy Hagar’s nightclub, but not eyepoppingly unreasonable. It’s actually a shame that it’s tarred with that brush, since with a slightly less silly name, this one could be a contender. Which seems to be the marketing plan, so, you know, give it a couple of years (or, seriously, rename it).