So, Dad and I were having a typical lunch at Phil & Derek’s Restaurant and Wine Bar when chef/owner Phillip Mitchell asked if we wanted to sample his new frozen margaritas.
Do I ever say no to a free drink?
It was light, refreshing and tasty.
“I sold out last night,” Mitchell says. “We sell a case every two days.”
Whoa there pardner, Phil & Derek’s is a wine bar with a wine and beer retailers permit (known as a BG) not a full liquor license. So how are they serving margaritas?
Well, the same way that a lot of smaller taquerias are. They’re made with wine, not tequila.
“It really started about 15 years ago,” says Derron Whitaker, sales manager for Liquid Assets. “It started with a niche market, the taquerias and smaller mom and pop Tex-Mex places that could only afford a BG license, they served beer but wanted something for the women. So they started to make wine-based margaritas.”
Whitaker estimates that 70 to 80 percent of the smaller Tex-Mex eateries in Houston operate under a BG license. Which means if you hang at places like El Rey or the smaller Taqueria Arandas and you’ve imbibed a delicious margarita, you’ve tasted a wine-based cocktail. Whitaker says you’ve probably been drinking them for years and never knew.
“If you’re drinking a margarita somewhere and you don’t see a bar,” Whitaker says, “you’re drinking a wine-base cocktail.”
Liquid Assets wholesales the Los Cabos Agave Especial wine made in Mexico, the stuff that’s used to make wine margaritas. But that isn’t all they sell.
“We’re the biggest little mix company you’ve never heard of,” Whitaker says.
Besides the Los Cabos, the company, founded by Jerry McGill, aka Dr. Drinx, creates custom cocktails and private labeling for restaurants around the country. And they sell wine that tastes like liquor.
There’s the Custom Reef Superior rum profile wine, Kalana wine that tastes pretty much like real Kahlua, and my personal favorite, the Amore di Verona that tastes like you’re sipping a snifter of amaretto.
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