Fortaleza dreams on a Cuervo budget

by Jessie O’Brien

If you’re like me, you want to order a tequila so high up on the shelf that a sherpa is forced to guide the bartender up a gd ladder to get to it. But, if you’re ALSO like me, you can’t afford top shelf (or a sherpa). Still, that moths-flying-out-of-my-wallet money issue doesn’t stop me from occasionally indulging in my favorite spirit, minus the heavy alcohol taste that comes with a $20 fifth. (I’m looking at you, Espolon. Your label is hip, but you taste like agave trash.)

Now, top shelf is never going to be cheap, but every once in a while, you find a high-end liquor with a “not bad” price tag. Here are a few places in Durango where that unreachable shelf is still obtainable (well, on payday, maybe).

I was burned hard after ordering two on-the-rocks glasses of Don Julio Anejo at a place where bearded bartenders wear vests. Not only were the pours $24 a piece, I had to pay $3 each for the large ice cubes. The crystal cubes were beautiful but they also melted. Ever since, I’ve had trouble trusting Don. I’ve been living my life in fear of what the check may bring, but at Machos Nachos, I can learn to love again. Don Julio Anejo is $15 and comes with free ice.


Tequila Ocho is among many people’s favorite premium brands. It’s difficult to find around town, unlike George Clooney’s Casamigos, which is everywhere. No offense, but I just don’t want my tequila to be made by a celebrity. (Unlike my 16-year-old self, who drank Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo.) 11th Street serves Ocho Plata for $12 and Reposado for $14. Just remember: You can’t drive 55, especially after drinking more than one of these. They also have four kinds of Mezcal Vago, which run from $10 to $20. The mezcal is distilled in clay pots, a centuries-old technique, and the labels describe everything about that particular spirit, from the type of agave used, to where it was grown, and how the agave was crushed.


Tequila lovers can get $2 off of all brands of tequila at Homeslice on Tequila Tuesdays, which means you and your friends can high five over a $12 pour of Siete Leguas Reposado. For some Siete Leguas batches, the agave hearts are still crushed using an ancient method of a donkey pulling a stone wheel in a circle. It’s uncertain if this is necessary, but it tastes like it is. Fun fact: Nightclub bottle service staple Patron, owned by John Paul DeJoria, the eccentric co-founder of Paul Mitchell, was actually created on the Siete Leguas site, though the two brands taste nothing alike.

By Jessie O’Brien


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