Monday, April 22, 2024

Over 20 tequilas and mezcals: Panxa shows off collection for private tasting


As we push toward celebrating Long Beach Food Scene: Last Call—a 15-event, 10-day long celebration of our city’s rich bar culture and the people who make it happen—we will offer a series of features that highlight everything from our most stellar cocktail programs at restaurants to the very events occurring (like this 20-plus tasting of various agave spirits at Panxa Cocina)… All in order to lift a glass to a social and economic driver that rarely receives the love its deserves: our bar industry. For more information on Long Beach Last Call, click here.

Unbeknownst to most, Panxa Cocina—the New Mexico-inspired concept birthed by Chef Arthur Gonzalez and now headed by his wife, Vanessa, following his tragic death—is home of not just one of but the largest selection of agave spirits in the city, with over 100 bottles of tequilas, mezcals, sotols…

Which is why they are hosting an array of some of the finest agave-centric distilleries—Tequila Ocho, Cazcanes, Siete Leguas, Mezcal Vago, Nosotros, Producer Mezcal, LALO, Don Julio, Jose Cuervo Reserva…—that will allow ticket holders to taste over 20 variations of agave spirits for $30 come Saturday, Mar. 2. Yes, you read that right: $30. It’s one of many events for this year’s Last Call celebration.

Panxa’s dedication to agave spirits is led by its passionate team

For Panxa’s Bar Manager Bryce Kaesman, agave spirits hold a special place in his heart—and it is tied to essentially having the ability to build up what is now a collection of some 130 bottles of various iterations and expressions of agave spirits.

“When I got here, sure, we had tequilas, we had some mezcal,” Kaesman said. “But they didn’t have the spirits that I had learned about like Tequila Ocho or Vago.”

It is with brands like those mentioned by Kaesman that show off the variety Panxa can offer: Tequila Ocho–a single estate-focused distillery that takes one agave from a very specific place to create different annual releases, exploring the idea of treating agave plants as terroir, in the same vein wine does with grapes—is headed by Carlos Camarena of the famed tequilero family Camarena, which has been making tequila since 1937. His co-founder, Tom Estes, is a Cal State Long Beach graduate who is largely responsible for introducing tequila to Europe when he opened a Mexican restaurant in Amsterdam in 1976. (Tenuous Long Beach connections never cease to amaze me.)

Cazcanes has a particularly amusing story attached to Bryce: While perusing a liquor shop in Orange County, he noticed that the store had quite the array of Cazcanes—a tequileria that grows its Blue Weber agave plants high up in the elevation of some 6,000 feet in volcanic tufa soil—he commented that they had some fine tequilas. The person behind the counter dismissed Kaesman’s eyes lingering on the Cazcanes and instead, brought down a bottle of a very famed, very expensive tequila.

“‘This is the good stuff,’ is what he has said,” Kaesman chuckling. “And yes, it is good. But there are so many other brands worth exploring—like Cazcanes. Which I am so happy to have come in for this tasting.”

They will be one of the distilleries on hand where people attending the tasting can speak with brand reps and some distillers themselves to learn about the depth of agave spirits—and this is a reflection of Kaesman’s relationship with both distilleries and distributors, a game that those in the bar industry know must be balanced with business, knowledge, and respect.

“I am by no mean an expert,” Kaesman said. “I feel like the moment you start saying you’re an expert is when you stop learning. So I am a passionate, continual learner—and I consider myself a lover of learning things but I am especially focused on learning about agave spirits.”

The tasting will take place on Saturday, Mar. 2 from 3PM to 5PM, where guests will be able to freely approach each brand, taste, and discuss the spirit along with having some passarounds from Panxa’s kitchen.

Panxa is also home to one of the city’s best cocktail programs—and will feature new and classic cocktails for Long Beach Last Call

Panxa is also home to one of the best cocktail programs in the city. And here is where I get to proudly highlight what will be offered throughout Long Beach Call Mar. 1 through Mar. 10 at Panxa.

Carajillo con Nosotros: Nosotros Reposado | Licor 43 | Espresso | Chocolate Mole | Orange

Verdita Mezcalita: Producer Espadin | Orange | Lime | Pineapple | Mint | Cilantro | Sumac & Chilli Salt

Tranquilo Mijo: Producer Ensamble | Cynar | Pineapple | Lime | Agave | Sage | Palo Santo

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Batanga: Siete Leguas Blanco | Lime | Mexican Coke | Salt

“Matcha to Your Own Beat:” Tequila Ocho Blanco | Raspberry | Orgeat | Lime | Matcha | Egg white

Wait–you mention “Long Beach Last Call.” What is it?

After the success of my restaurant week last year during August, Long Beach Food Scene Week, bar owners and tenders rightfully asked: “What about a week for us?”

So I decided to oblige and present Long Beach Food Scene: Last Call, a ten-day long celebration of Long Beach’s amazing bar culture, it’s even more amazing workers, and the industry that often goes without recognition as one of our city’s largest economic and social drivers. 

Thanks to my collaborators—Scott Lennard of RNDC and Chris Lewis of Nosotros Tequila y Mezcal—we’ve created some 15 events across the ten-day span on Last Call. To say the least, we’ve worked our asses off and we hope you’ll come out and celebrate with us (that is, if we make it to Day 10 alive).

And this $30 tasting is a part of that—so I hope you’ll join us on what will be a distinctly unique agave spirits tasting.

“A Taste of Mexico” will take place on Saturday, Mar. 2 from 3PM to 5PM at Panxa Cocina, located at 3937 E. Broadway. For tickets, click here.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.



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