As I walk through the door a giant orange orb pulsates in the middle of the room. The circular black walls flicker with specs of gold and ambient music—the long pull of a string instrument, the faint crash of waves—hums over the speakers. Looking up, a static screen comes alive with blue flowers. The projections cast shadows throughout the room that dance and shift as I walk forward. Reaching the center, lights illuminate a series of intricate bottles scattered throughout the room. They’re beautiful, something out of an art gallery or museum—an Indiana Jones prop or the MacGuffin to a sci-fi film. I pause for a moment to take in the setting. Eventually, a young woman, immaculately dressed with a warm smile, enters and stands beside me.
“Would you like to hear the story of Clase Azul?”
This fall premium tequila brand Clase Azul—known for its hand-crafted, hand-painted decanters that can sell anywhere from $150 to $30,000 a bottle—is expanding into the world of hospitality. The company recently opened its first event space in Los Cabos, Mexico. Clase Azul Los Cabos is home to a boutique, locally inspired restaurant, cocktail bar, omakase experience, and a signature dining event called A Taste of Culture.
A Taste of Culture is a theatrical diner, equal parts tasting menu and a cultural tour. During the intimate meal—it hosts just eight per sitting—guests learn the history and traditions behind Mexican cuisine while trying limited-edition spirits and food pairings. The dramatic orb room kicks off the event. It’s a bold and imaginative opening, a big swing playing on the border of camp while inviting patrons to play along. The whole thing sets the scene for a high-end dining experience unlike anything you’ve had before.
I was invited to Los Cabos by Clase Azul for the opening of the space. While I’d been aware of the brand, catching their bottles on the high shelves of the classier bars I frequent, I’d never had the pleasure of trying their product. That’s in part because the premium tequila and mezcal fall outside the price point of what I usually drink (rail vodka/soda/lemon) and because my relationship with tequila has been largely defined by salt, lime, and an ill-begotten high school experience where I woke up with a dick drawn on my forehead. Establishing that tequila can have complex and rich flavors and pushing the drink beyond its hard party connotations is a point of focus for the Clase Azul brand. This can be a luxury product. That idea is embodied in everything they do, from the restaurants, to their airport boutique, to their bottles.
It also speaks to the company’s loftier goals in terms of culture and lifestyle. In the same way Armani has branched out into the world of hotels, embodying spaces with the vibe of the brand, Clase Azul is hoping for similar results. They’re trying to create spaces and products that feel decidedly luxury and decidedly Mexican.
“We are growing towards being the first luxury house from Mexico…much like other well-known brands from France and Italy who offer an array of products and services,” said Jose Martinez, Clase Azul’s Global PR Director. “It’s really about immersion and giving our clientele the opportunity to deeply explore and appreciate one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Some North Americans may not have an understanding of true Mexican culture based on what they see in their own backyard, but we are here to tell a different story.”
During the opening night of Clase Azul’s space, well-dressed influencers, fashion designers, and minor celebrities paraded through the restaurant and bar, documenting the live garden ceiling and chic open terrace on their phones. A bevy of photographers took shots while a British TV presenter did an impromptu lesson on tasting notes in front of $3000 boutique bottles complete with their own luggage. In the corner, a well-coiffed man with a mustache and floral blouse repeatedly shouted “best table” and an impossibly tall Vogue journalist made small talk with the bartender. It’s the kind of movie montage scene you can sell a lifestyle brand on, the Clase Azul Los Cabos embodying the aspirational luxury they’re actively striving for. Still, slamming delicious small bites—selections from the Mexican fusion menu sourced fresh with local ingredients—I couldn’t help but wonder if any alcohol was worth the selling price of Clase Azul. Maybe the whole point is that it always feels slightly out of reach.
Later in the evening, I’m sipping on a glass of Clase Azul Tequila Gold, a $400 bottle from their icon series, and considering the question. The flavor is smooth and soft, with a hint of sweetness, and light woody notes. Swallowing I wait for a kick, that burning sensation I’ve come to expect from tequila but it never arrives. I take another pull and it’s that moment in Pulp Fiction, John Travolta with the five-dollar shake. I don’t know if it’s worth five dollars, but goddamn that’s a good shake.
Graham Isador is a writer in Toronto.