Pot Luck

Tequila Talk with Stewart Skloss of Pura Vida Tequila - Part 1

I didn't expect to actually meet with Stewart Skloss when I contacted the offices of Pura Vida Tequila. I especially did not expect to meet with him the week of Cinco de Mayo and the launch of their radio station, the first ever "fueled" by a tequila company.

The history of Pura Vida begins with a 20-year-old Skloss traveling through Mexico and stumbling across a town called Tequila, Mexico. He and his traveling companion, a U.S. diplomat, turned this adventure into a venture known as Dos Hermanos. But that was short-lived, as at that age he "had the attention span of a Mexican jumping bean."

Stewart went on to become successful in business, but the idea of a brand of tequila never left him and so arrived Pura Vida 20 years later.

With so many tequila brands on the market, what Skloss believes sets his tequila apart is the authenticity. The tequila consists of 100 percent Blue Weber Agave and uses no additives or caramel for coloring. It is triple-distilled and uses a five-stage water purification method. To Skloss, this lends to making "the best damn tequila you'll ever taste."

The line of ultra-premium tequila, while sells for under $30, is comprised of three labels: Blanco (Silver), Reposado (Gold) and Anejo.

I met with Stewart Skloss and the marketing director of Pura Vida Tequila, Chris Novosad, at El Real, one of the many restaurants in Houston that feature the Pura Vida brand. Other notables include Armandos, El Tiempo, TQLA, Yelapa Playa and La Griglia.

EOW: Thank you for meeting with me, I know it has be very busy for a tequila company the week of Cinco de Mayo. What type of events do you have planned for this week?

CN: We will be having Cinco de Mayo Radio Pura Vida launch parties in the four metropolitan areas of Texas: Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas. Here in Houston, we will be at Molina's on Washington, Cyclone Anaya's, Guadalajara, Tila's and Armando's.

EOW: Tell us a little more about Radio Pura Vida.

SS: It's the first radio station owned and operated by a liquor company. We will stream live

through an online media player as well as through a custom smartphone application.The station will run on a 15-song format with two 20-second commercials for Pura Vida, and it's going to be a mix of songs that you wouldn't think to put together. It'll be "Texas Global Rock," where you'll hear "Satisfaction" by the Stones in Spanish, and then Alejandro Fernandez and then Raspberry Beret. It will be festive and upbeat. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, one of the investors, will be contributing and bringing some legends in the music industry.

EOW: You mention Billy Gibbons, one of the investors -- you also have a lot of other investors. You have everything from a CEO to a race car driver to a muscian, how did this group come together?

SS: I was born in South Texas and raised in Austin and went to every military school in Texas you can think of. And I made some fun friends and interesting people along the way. I didn't want to have just three or four investors. I wanted to create a "facebook" of investors, different ethnicities, races, backgrounds, all walks of life. I wouldn't want to go to a party with all doctors or all lawyers. So we have Tommy Hicks from the Texas Rangers, Tom Wood, Charlie Sexton of the Arc Angels and Carlos Longoria, among others.

At this point Skloss had me do a taste test of the Blanco -- the least aged of the tequilas, against the number one and number two selling tequilas,  Jose Cuervo and Patron, respectively. I'm not a big tequila drinker but I didn't make the "give me salt and lime fast!" face with Pura Vida, so maybe it is possibly the "best damn tequila I've ever tasted."

Radio Pura Vida Launch Parties in Houston:

Molina's on Washington (4720 Washington) 6:30-8:30 pm
Cyclone Anaya's on West Gray (309 West Gray) 4-6 pm
Guadalajara Downtown (1201 San Jacinto) 4-6:30pm
Tila's on Shepherd (1111 South Shepherd on the Curve) 6-8pm
Armando's on Westheimer (2630 Westheimer) 8-10pm

Check back tomorrow, when we talk about tequila and food and find out what "The Gibbons" is.

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Minh T Truong