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The Sendera brings tequila bar to Crossroads area (w/video)

By by j.r. ortega/jrortega@vicad.com
Jan. 22, 2014 at 2:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 21, 2014 at 7:22 p.m.

Bar Manager at The Sendera, Christopher Benton, of Victoria, left, shows Shelly Johnson, of Victoria, right, handwritten notes that come with a bottle of high-end Casa Dragones  tequila. "He (Benton) is so knowledgeable, it makes it fun," Johnson said.

Tequila 101

Don't know much about tequila other than those rough college nights and painfully excruciating hangovers? Well, don't fear, some of The Sendera's finest want you to know its tequila bar is a teaching tool as well as a fun time.

Arm yourself with this knowledge, and you'll be ready to go.

• You have four main types of aged tequilas: blancos, reposados, anejos and extra anejos. Blancos, depending on the distillery, are aged up to two months, while reposados are aged anywhere from two months to a year. Your anejos range from a year to 3 years, and the extra anejos are 3 years and older. The more aged the tequila, the more amber tint it has and the more rich and smooth the liquor.

• The best way to try tequila is the same way you would try wine: swirl it a bit and sip it neat. Throw out anything you learned in your drunken young adulthood; tequila is meant to be savored and understood.

• Adding an ice cube or a twist of lime will alter the taste of the tequila, but it is not the worst thing you can do. If you can't handle the sting, feel free to try these two things.

• Mixing your tequila with any sort of soft drinks is not the smartest thing you could do, though many people do it anyway. "You would be defaming the tequila if you mixed it with something," says Dennis Patillo. While some tequilas are perfect for mixed drinks or margaritas, ask your bartender first before wasting good tequila.

• If you're feeling overwhelmed with the different ages of tequilas, take it slow and start with blancos like Jose Cuervo and 1800. Ask your bartender if he or she can offer you a flight of different types, so you can learn the types and figure out which best suits you. The biggest problem people have when trying to become tequila connoisseurs, Shannon Cummins said, is that they stick with the first tequila they enjoy. Test yourself, he said.

SOURCES: Dennis Patillo, owner of The Sendera and The PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar; Shannon Cummins, The Sendera manager

If you go

•  WHAT: The Sendera's Tequila Bar

• WHEN: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, closed Sunday

• WHERE: 101 W. Goodwin Ave., 12th Floor

• INFO: Visit thesendera.com, like its page at Facebook.com/TheSendera or call 361-573-9700.

• SPECIAL: Performer Jerry James is performing form 8-11 p.m. Friday at the bar.

On the tab

Here is a list of some of The Sendera's tequilas. Prices range from $6 to $75.

BLANCO

• Chinaco

•  DeLeon

• El Mayor

• Peligroso

REPOSADO

• Avion

• Corazon

• El Tesoro

• Ocho

ANEJO (Includes some Extra Anejo)

• Casa Noble

• Don Julio 1942

• Gran Centenario Leyenda

• Herradura Seleccion

George Carlin once said, "one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor."

What we didn't know was Carlin may have been talking about the new tequila bar on the 12th floor of One O'Connor Plaza.

OK, maybe not, but it's already being talked about in the Crossroads' social scene.

In mid-2013, Dennis Patillo and his wife, Louise Hull Patillo, opened their latest dining endeavor, The Sendera. And now, at the back end of the restaurant sits a lounge area with a Spanish flavor and a bar with more than 100 types of tequila.

The goal, said Shannon Cummins, who runs The Sendera, is to have about 150 bottles of tequila ranging from blancos to extra anejos.

The Sendera is even finalizing with Jose Cuervo - Maestro Dobel to make its own blend of tequila by midyear.

"The tequila market is really doing well in the U.S.," said Cummins. "It's seeing a lot of growth."

The idea for something different had been in store since the construction of The Sendera began, Dennis Patillo said.

At first, the plan was to gut the bar in the back, where the tequila bar now sits. What ended up happening, he said, was many people shared their memories of why that bar meant a lot.

So plan B was to make the bar into a full bar for private parties, but then, an experience Patillo had in New Mexico changed that idea.

A restaurant brought out a menu of about 50 tequilas, so Patillo brought that idea to The Sendera.

"What's more Texan than tequila?" Patillo said. "There is nothing like this in this part of the world."

The nearest tequila bar, as far as Patillo knows, is in Houston, which Patillo said has a decent selection of tequilas.

The Sendera's selection sits along the bar in beautifully candescent glamour, but the hard part, Cummins said, is that the majority of people don't know much about tequila.

They know one or two types, but when it comes to the ages, nuances and artisanal-type tequilas, they shy away.

"It's unbelievable how many tequilas there are," Cummins said. "We've learned a lot, and we are learning every day."

Patillo likens tequila tasting to wine connoisseuring a decade ago.

To help the public relate more to tequila, the bar has, along with its menu, a list of "flights" of tequila, which start customers off by pairing different tequilas from its four ages to find out what their flavor is.

"Tequila, what can you say?" Patillo said. "It's not just for spring break anymore."

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