With Cinco de Mayo happening this weekend, it’s only appropriate that Tequila and More, the first trade show centered around the spirit, it’s  smokier cousin mezcal and Latin American food and culture, should roll into town the day after.

Although both spirits have made significant inroads into bartending culture, a certain reserve still remains when it comes to widespread acceptance amongst the drinking public. Long viewed as a shooter, their presence at any gathering will inevitably provoke a number of cautionary tales centered around an instance where the story-teller over-indulged.

I would argue that the main reason for this has to be the widespread availability of the shitty stuff, known as mixto tequila, which is only required to be produced with only 51% agave sugars, the other 49% being cane sugar and additives such as caramel coloring, oak extract, glycerin and sugar-based syrups.

Drink poorly-made booze and you will get a hangover.

Tequilas and mezcals made from “100% agave” are a good starting point and hopefully, this second outing of Tequila and More will help shift the public perception of the spirits image as a hangover-waiting-to-happen to a worthy companion to whisky, gin and rum in the liquor cabinet.

I spoke to Allan Fryman, one of the organizers, about the show, tequila and its bad reputation.

This is show number two. Where do you hope to take it from here?

The object is to spread out across the country. [We want to] grow out the size of the show.

Looking back on the first show, how do you guys think you did?

I think we did well. We expected a certain number of people, we were happy to reach our target of 1400 attendees.

How many vendors will you have this time?

30 vendors, 45-60 tequilas. Some vendors are still waiting for their products to be cleared by the LCBO’s lab-testing.

Obviously, you’re enthusiastic about all of the companies bringing their products to the festival. That being said, are there any new tequilas that you’re particularly excited about?

15 mezcals will be available and considering that only Jaral de Berrio is on LCBO shelves, I’m excited to make it possible for people in Ontario to try more examples of this type of spirit.

If someone tries a tequila at the event and really loves it, will they be able to buy it on-site at an LCBO store?

No, the LCBO won’t have a store in there because you need to guarantee certain attendance levels to justify the cost of setting up a store. There will be a number of exhibitors selling cases.

So just team up with some friends and buy a case to split up amongst yourselves. A lot of people refuse tequila when its offered because they had a “bad experience” because of it. How would you persuade them to give it a shot?

Consumers have grown up and so has tequila.

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To further this way of thinking, Rob Montgomery and Gavin MacMillan, two excellent bartenders and all-around great guys, will be coming up with agave cocktails and Gavin will be holding two workshops on tequila and mezcal, respectively. Ian Chadwick, an international authority on the spirits, will also be holding an introductory workshop called “Tequila 101″ that promises to bring folks up to speed. Rounding out the expertise is Brian Van Flandern, Don Julio global brand ambassador and mixologist, who will take attendees through a tasting of that premium brand.

Tequila and More Spirits and Cocktail Show takes place Friday May 6th, running from 4:00pm to 11:30pm at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front Street West). Tickets will cost you only $28 if you buy them in advance online or you can pick them up at the door for $40. Keep your eyes peeled to Groupon, Teambuy or any of those sites for the inevitable admission deals.

Photo from Tequila and More Spirits and Cocktail Show website.

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