What do writers say about the tequila?

"The sound of the word tequila and what it means is so powerful that its echo has sounded on many pages of literature. In some, we can observe the sensations caused by this drink, the description of the plant from which it is obtained, or the impact that its landscape causes. Each text is like an echo box that we can hear as a pleasure more than the writing gives us."

Retrato de Juan Gustavo Cobo Borda (2021) by Juan Gustavo Cobo BordaFundación Beckmann A.C.

Juan Gustavo Cobo Borda

Can we go so far as to affirm that there is a tequila literature? What we have definitely observed is a proliferation of poets and writers who have been inspired by tequila and have mentioned it in multiple books and magazines. Like the Colombian magazine where Juan Gustavo Cobo Borda wrote about his visit to Tequila.

Copa Riedel, con Tequila Maestro Dobel Añejo. (2021) by Casa CuervoFundación Beckmann A.C.

Vicente Quirarte

Vicente Quiarte has skillfully described the sensations that tequila leaves in the body: "Tequila give away to the good devotee with a pearl necklace that forms a perfect circle. 

"Quality and purity depend on the duration of these pearls and the uniformity they achieve in the mouth of the glass". And he warns us: "Tequila was made for the savor of the righteous and to stultify those who drink it without realizing what they are drinking."

Tequila 1800 Cristalino servido "en las rocas" (2021) by Casa CuervoFundación Beckmann A.C.

Miguel Ángel Hernández Rubio

One of the Jalisco poets who has dedicated many hours to composing around this drink is Miguel Ángel Hernández Rubio, who wrote in the famous tapatian cantina "Allá en la Fuente", a poem dedicated to a legendary woman known as " Our Lady of all the Gulfs" 

In  The tequila - that oil-, 
That ice ...as it melts 
it's a diamond 
that is polished against the moon or sun
  then a long, long, long drink 
towards that other perfection: 
that glass, 
that nothingness 

Efraín HuertaFundación Beckmann A.C.

Efraín Huerta

Efraín Huerta, one of the most famous Mexican poets, tells us:"White tequila is already being served in the tall glasses (I never knew why they call it caballito (shot glass): perhaps it would be because after five glasses one begins to gallop through the sea and sky on the mare Siete Leguas (Seven Leagues))"

Cocktail elaborado con Tequila 1800 Cristalino. (2021) by Casa CuervoFundación Beckmann A.C.

Álvaro Mutis

Álvaro Mutis sings in his poem Ponderación y signo del tequila: Reflection on and sign of tequila: "When tequila agitates its flags of jagged shores, the battle stops and the armies take the command they intended to impose.Two squires often accompany it: salt and lemon. But it is always ready to engage in dialogue without any support other than its lustral transparency."

Botella de Tequila 1800 Blanco, diseñada por el artista e ilustrador Josh Ellingson (2021) by Casa CuervoFundación Beckmann A.C.

Allusions to tequila lead us to pursue the sensations, the smells, the way it enters the mouth and throat and the crucial moments that produce its flavor.
The good writer transforms it into a myriad of flavors and even colors.  It is a drink that is strong, capable of transmitting images and myths from the world. And writers are ideal vehicles for making or disseminating them.

Campos de Agave (2021) by Casa CuervoFundación Beckmann A.C.

The vegetable eminence of agave

The prestige of the agave is very old, not only in the country's landscape but also in the literary landscape. It is a plant that has been integrated into Mexico like no other and has identified us to the world.

In 1825, an Englishman, William Hardy, wrote a book about Mexico, impressed by the agave landscape: "Even bad terrain produces fruits and wealth. The agave and other indigenous plants provide Tequila with this prosperity that is denied by cereals (…) and offers a superb quality of liquor. The spirit called wine-mezcal."

La Rojeña (2021) by Casa CuervoFundación Beckmann A.C.

Writing from yesterday and today

We must acknowledge the founding writer about tequila: José López Portillo y Rojas. He lived in the middle of the 19th century within the atmosphere of the La Rojeña estate and tavern, owned by his grandfather Vicente Albino Rojas. 

José López Portillo y Rojas

In his 1880 tale "Nieves" ("Snows"), he recreates scenes of the nineteenth-century customs of rustic life and he described the village of Tequila: "Columns of smoke were rising everywhere, which giant monsters spew out when breathing huge amounts of steam." It refers to the chimneys of the cooking furnaces of the agave pineapples in the Tequila distilleries and to the delicious smell that floods the Town during this process.

André BretónFundación Beckmann A.C.

André Bretón

In the 20th century, writers like André Breton were also shaken by the impact of the lands of western Mexico. In the face of its harsh beauty he wrote: "A land of unexpected reliefs, as abrupt as they are exceptional, this landscape expresses a calling for a flat wilderness marked by strong contrasts. True to itself, that broken landscape is unfathomable and voracious in its depths, unyielding in its unique heights, thus, as it is in its land it is in its people."

Portada del libro "El Caso Tequila" by Editorial RocaFundación Beckmann A.C.

F. G. Haghenbeck

The authors who have written over the past 25 years and directly about tequila are Vicente Quirarte, Alfonso Alfaro, Laura Esquivel, María Palomar, Gonzalo Celorio, Elmer Mendoza, Luis González de Alba, etc. Several have turned it into a pretext or context for their novels, often a more external or incidental scenario than the soul of the place or the characters, as in El caso tequila (The tequila case), by Francisco Haghenbeck, Tequila, by Luis Barjau, La sangre del tequila,  Félix Luis Viera.  

Retrato del poeta Dante Medina by Dante MedinaFundación Beckmann A.C.

Authors of his land: Dante Medina

In Jalisco, not only is tequila an essential part of the daily life of its inhabitants, but it is a constant source of inspiration in some of the active writers and poets.  In 2008, the writer Dante Medina gathered together 45 poets in an anthology. Porque a mí me bautizaron con un trago de tequila (Because I was baptized with a swig of tequila) who vouched for their interest in the subject. And surely the topic will continue to grow.

Campos de agave (2021) by Mundo CuervoFundación Beckmann A.C.

Salvador Encarnación

Another writer, born in Zacoalco Jalisco, Salvador Encarnación, collects images from the tequila field that immerse us in it and that can be fully identified with those who live and cultivate it:

He also wrote stamps about the effects of tequila in his daily life:

—... and then father,  Margarita passed by and I told her how much I loved her.

"And? ...

" She said: Tell me tomorrow. As long as you are in your right mind.

"And? ..." "Then I said: No, Margarita." I'm in my right mind right now. With a tender heart. "

Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalara 2005 (2005) by Fundación Beckmann, A.C. and Fundación BeckmannFundación Beckmann A.C.

On the search for a literature of its own

The question of the existence of an exclusive tequila literature hangs in the air.  As poets, writers and composers continue to name this drink and its universe as a substantial part of this country's culture, a very valuable literary heritage will form. 

In the photo: During the 2005 Guadalajara International Book Fair, with Peru as the guest country. Attending the inauguration of the Fernando De Szyszlo exhibition at the Museum of Arts (MUSA) in Guadalajara, from left to right: the novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, José Trinidad Padilla (Rector of the University of Guadalajara), ( unidentified person) , the plastic artist Fernando de Szyszlo, (unidentified person); Juan Domingo Beckmann (CEO of Casa Cuervo) and Nubia Macías

Many national and foreign writers, for more than thirty years, have been invited to the city of Tequila, sometimes through the Guadalajara International Book Fair, so that they can may get to know the place of its birth, its method of manufacture, its legendary background, its rich fields, its music and its symbols.

El escritor Gabriel García Márquez en los campos de agave de Tequila Cuervo. (2005) by Fundación Beckmann, A.C.Fundación Beckmann A.C.

Gabriel García Márquez in the agave fields 

Among them are some of the most awarded and celebrated writers in the world: Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Salman Rushdie, Juan Gustavo Cobo Borda, Ángeles Masttreta, Nélida Piñón, Sergio Ramírez and Juan Villoro, among others.

Los escritores Sergio Ramírez (Premio Miguel de Cervantes), Nélida Piñón (Premio FIL Juan Rulfo) y Ángeles Masttreta (Premio Princesa de Asturias) visitando la ciudad de Tequila, Jalisco y apreciando las artesanías de la etnia Huichol. (2021) by Fundación Beckmann, A.C.Fundación Beckmann A.C.

Mr Juan Beckmann  and his wife, Mrs. Doris Beckmann accompanying the writers Sergio Ramírez (Miguel de Cervantes Prize) and Nélida Piñón (FIL Juan Rulfo Prize) in Tequila, appreciating the Huichol art pieces.

Rushdie, SalmanLIFE Photo Collection

Salman Rushdie

Rushdie and Villoro shared a mythical visit to Tequila, during the time of the fatwa (ruling on a point of Islamic law), which neither of them forgot, as the visit was recorded in books written by each of them.

Salman Rushdie. "The ground under your feet."
"Then we left the vehicles behind and flew over the hills and valleys, to which the agave plantations returned from a grayish blue, and she changed her mood again, she began laughing into the microphone and insisting that we took her to a place that did not exist, a fantasy destination, a country of wonders, because how was it possible that there was a place called Tequila?
"It's like saying that whisky comes from Whisky or that gin is made in Gin," he exclaimed. Is there a Vodka River in Russia by any chance? Do they make rum in Rum?"

El escritor Juan Villoro impartiendo una clase magistral a jóvenes de Tequila, Jalisco (2018) by Fundación Beckmann, A.C.Fundación Beckmann A.C.

Juan Villoro en Tequila

 Villoro tells us in his book of chronicles "Accidental Safari"
“ Rushdie… the novelist set out for another significant foray into the world: he would  visit the town of Tequila in the company of a« civilian »entourage (his girlfriend, the writer William Styron and his wife, and five Mexicans — including me). The first thing we saw was the army helicopter on the soccer field where Rushdie had landed: "I saw blue fields and some splendid ravines!" he commented when we reached  him next to an agave field. Thanks to the precise explanations, Rushdie already knew the technique of cutting agaves. "

Mario Vargas LlosaFundación Beckmann A.C.

Mario Vargas Llosa

In one of those visits, Vargas Llosa exclaimed: "The hours went by, the mariachi fell silent and the tequila had vanished."
The best ending to any conversation about tequila.

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