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CHICAGO FOOD MAGAZINE


There's a new tequila on the scene, courtesy of Chicago's very own, Lizzy Lopez. In 2016, after inheriting an agave farm in her family's native, Mexico, Lopez began cultivating her own blue weber agave and crafting what is now known as Tequila 1349. Read on to learn the meaning behind the name, how her tequila is unique in such a crowded category and Lizzy's favorite way to enjoy each expression. 


CFM: Please tell us about yourself and what led to you starting Tequila 1349.   


LL: The inspiration for Tequila 1349 began back in 2016 when I was given an acre of my family land in Arandas, Jalisco. I was born in Chicago but spent a lot of my youth in that part of Mexico, watching my father and grandfather farm agave. I always loved the rich traditions and craftsmanship that go into tequila making. So when I received the land, I planted my own blue weber agave and began farming. I initially did this as an investment. But in 2020, I had the opportunity to partner with the team of third-generation master distillers at Aceves Spirits to begin creating a tequila profile and bringing it to life – and Tequila 1349 was born.


CFM: What’s the inspiration behind the name of your company?    

LL: When I first began this journey, I didn’t have much. So I planted what I could afford, which totaled 1,349 plants to start. Thus, the name Tequila 1349! You can find the coordinates of my first crop on each label of the bottle. 


CFM: What makes Tequila 1349 different from other brands? 

LL: For one thing, it’s small batch, single estate and additive-free, which makes it stand out from some of the mass-produced brands that are out there. But also, we stay true to the rich culture and traditions of tequila making, while also employing innovative, sustainable practices. Innovative as in playing classical-like music so that the frequencies can relax the yeast during fermentation. And sustainable as in turning over the soil rather than always buying new. Also during harvest season, we practice leaving 20% of agave plants in the ground so it can continue to provide nectar to the long nose bats, who are our pollinators. It’s essential to their survival. I believe this combination of old and new results in a distinct profile and exceptional taste. 


CFM: What have been the highs and lows of starting your own spirits company? 

LL: Competition has definitely been a challenge. Celebrities are breaking into the tequila market more than ever, it’s like every month there is a new one. And they come with a huge marketing spend and an influential platform, so sometimes it feels like I’ll never get ahead of the game. But a high moment for me was getting the brand picked up by Binny’s Beverage Depot in Illinois. Binny’s is a huge retailer known for carrying brands worth consuming. Early on I was told by an industry expert that I didn’t stand a chance presenting to them, given the high volume of brands brought to their table. So the day I got news that we made their shelves in nearly 40 stores, I was beyond thrilled! 


CFM: What can we expect to see from Tequila 1349 in 2024 and beyond?    LL: We will continue to grow our brand awareness and expand the availability of Tequila 1349 . In addition, we are working on our next expression, the Añejo. This will be a one-year aged tequila which I am currently barrel picking for. While we wait for this anticipated profile, perhaps I may surprise our audience with a Mezcal. More to come on that. 


CFM: Can you share a few fun cocktail recipes for at-home mixologists? 

LL: 

“Mexican 75” 

  • 2oz of Tequila 1349 Blanco 

  • ¾ Aperol

  • ½ simple syrup 

  • ½ squeezed lemon  

  • Splash of champagne 


“1349 Praline Old Fashion” 

  • 2 oz Tequila 1349 Reposado 

  • 0.5 oz Praline syrup 

  • 1 dash aromatic bitters 

  • 1 dash mole bitter 

  • Orange peel for garnish 


CFM: What is your favorite way to enjoy Tequila 1349? 

LL: I love picking up the complexities in flavor, by breathing it in as I sip it neat. I enjoy the Blanco chilled with a splash of soda water and a hint of lime. And I enjoy the Reposado over a slow melt ice cube. However, if I were to use mixers, I’d keep the Blanco very simple, away from sugary syrups to avoid losing its smoothness. And for the Repo, a crafted cocktail that is balanced is best to let that agave taste linger. 


CFM: Where can we find Tequila 1349 in Chicago? 

LL: Tequila 1349 is currently in 40 Binny’s Beverage Depot locations all over the Chicago area, at Chicago’s Moreno’s Liquors (known for their rarest and largest collection of Mexican spirits in the country) and in several local restaurants and bars. In addition we ship online through our website, tequila1349.com


CFM: Are there any upcoming events in Chicago where readers can meet you and try your tequilas? 

LL: Yes, we have an upcoming tasting event for our Reposado profile happening in many Binny’s locations throughout Illinois scheduled for April. Exact dates TBD and will be shared on our website and social media handles. In addition, we are participating at this year's New Orleans Spirit Competition at Tales of the Cocktail. And we are also hoping to have a table at this year’s Mexico in a Bottle Chicago event, also in April. 


CFM: If you aren’t running the business and doing events, what are you doing for fun? Do you have any favorite restaurants and/or bars that you like to go to in the city? 

LL: I love to travel. I typically pick my vacation spots based on the food scene. I love food, all types of cuisines. And I love a good cocktail. There isn’t a place I haven't tried in Chicago. From a dive bar to a bougie hot spot. One of my favorite places to eat right now is Elina’s, very straightforward Italian-American cuisine. Everything on their menu is 10 for 10. I have also become a recent fan of Jardin GastroBar. They have incredible Latin/Asian fusion dishes that are so beautifully presented. And for cocktails, my favorite spot is Sepia Chicago – a Michelin Star restaurant known for their locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, they have a beautiful craftsmanship in everything they do, especially the cocktails. Keith Meicher is an incredible mixologist there. He will come up with such unique and complex drinks that tell a story. I highly recommend it. Other than enjoying the culinary scene, I like staying active with charitable organizations, given that I sit on the board with one. Being hands on with the community gives me growth. I also love spending time with my elderly pup, and I'm trying to incorporate a fun routine in my schedule, like reading one book per month or taking dance lessons.

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