Tequila 101 @ MULA

I love Mexican food. I believe #TacoTuesday should be celebrated AT LEAST every other week. I add verde salsa and tortillas to most breakfasts that involve eggs and I could never turn down a margarita.

So when Yelp Omaha decided to have a tequila tasting at MULA  Mexican Kitchen & Tequileria I had to go. Luckily I made the cut (Yelp Omaha events are very competitive thanks to Will cultivating such a great group of people) and my friend and I headed to The Blackstone District on a Wednesday.

We arrived to a beautiful spread of salsas, guacamole and MULA’s signature margarita. One of my favorite in Omaha, it is very straight to the point. Not syrupy, not super sweet and you can tell it was made fresh.


While we enjoyed our margaritas, chips and dips Michael J Sanchez, owner of Maria’s in Ralston and MULA, laid some truly impressive knowledge on us. I’m a learner and while I veer towards the dark spectrum of liquor I can truly say after this tasting I can throw my hat in the ring with 80% of the tequila drinkers in Omaha. So authentic and extensive of a tequila program MULA has (employees are certified by the council over approval of all tequilas) they make drinking it a true experience.


Here are a few freebies I’ll give you (but really. You should go into MULA and take a class. Worth the time and moola).

  • Check the label of that tequila on your shelf. If it doesn’t say some combination of blue, agave or 100% then it isn’t “real” tequila. It’s a “mixto” with just 51% blue agave. (no mixtos can be found at MULA)
  • Think you can make tequila yourself? Wrong. Tequila can only be grown in five Mexican states.
  • Think Jose Gold is Jose Silver’s “older” big brother? Think again. Jose is actually a mixto and the gold gets its color from dye, not age.

At this point, I’m going to get to the actual tasting of the tequila since many of you probably aren’t a history nerd like me. We got to try three Casa de Centinela tequilas; a blanco, reposado and anejo.

First the blanco, what most people drink in margaritas or take shots of at the bar. Also known as my least favorite tequila unless in a margarita. Only aged up to 60 days, blancos are the straight tequila/alcoholy option always. I will give it to Centinela as this blanco was very crisp and sweeter than most tequila’s I’ve had to drink before. It was fragrant with defined notes of star anise.


Next, the reposado. Aged between two months and a year, this particular tequila is aged in white oak bourbon barrels. This had a more smooth finish with notes of honey. It was also slightly smoky.


My uncontested favorite of the night was the anejo. Aged up to three years, it is the closest in the bunch to a bourbon (extra anejo would be the real winner in this battle though, aged more than three years but no more than five). With an oaky flavor, this anejo had notes of vanilla and pepper. An earthy tequila that can be used as a substitute in traditional bourbon drinks.


Thanks again to Will of Yelp Omaha and everyone who participated in Tequila 101. MULA is truly a Midtown/Blackstone gem that I can’t wait to visit more once I move next month. Check their Instagram or Facebook for new weekly specials and brunch (!) starting April 3.



Omaha Food This Week: 10.18.15

Welcome to the inaugural Omaha Food This Week recap where I go eat great food/attend culinary events and write about it. This week- National Gumbo Day with Shuck’s Fish House & Oyster Bar and The Market House’s Fall Menu Party.

Monday, October 12 was National Gumbo Day. To commemorate, Shuck’s offered Gumbo Flights Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. A friend and I decided to stop by during Happy Hour Monday and try the full flight (five types of gumbo).

Shuck’s original- a go-to for many at Shuck’s. Nice flavors from the seafood and sausage, not too spicy.

Turducken- not a huge fan of dark roux and the combo of duck and turkey with the chicken made the gumbo very heavy. Overpowered any spice that was present.

Alligator- a runner-up,the alligator was done well and reminded my friend of chicken. Great choice if you’re burned out on the original.

Root Vegetable- my least favorite of the night and the only one I didn’t finish. Very bland and a too thick consistency even for gumbo.

Crawfish- by far my favorite of the night. Nice pieces of crawfish and spice. The lighter roux lets the crawfish really shine.

Thursday October 15 The Market House had a Seasons Soiree to celebrate their Fall Menu. They had selections from the menu as well as tastings from Zipline Brewing and Dark Horse Distillery.

I tried both the Copper Alt amd Nut Brown from Zipline. The Copper Alt being their most popular, it’s a smooth ale/lager hybrid. I was pleasantly surprised by the Nut Brown. Not too dark and a very smooth finish.

The Dark Horse Distillery samples included their Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, Reunion Rye Whiskey and Reunion Barrel Strength. While I loved the Barrel Strength my favorite was the Rye, perfect for a strong Manhattan or Old Fashioned.

And now for the menu bites-

Deviled Farm Eggs (salmon roe, house bacon, fleur de sel)
Possibly the best deviled eggs I’ve had in a while. The filling was straight forward, no mayo or sauce to make it runny or too sweet. The combo of salmon roe and fleur de sel gave it a distinct saltiness but the bacon did get a little lost.

Baby Romaine (smoked oyster dressing, brioche, grana padano)
A deconstructed play on the Caesar salad the individual romaine leaves looked a little “meh” at first. After one bite, however, it was hard to not eat the whole platter. The smoked oyster dressing was divine and a perfect substitute for sardines, giving the “salad” more depth.

Mussels (red curry, sweet potato, leek, grilled peasant bread)
Full disclosure– I’m not the hugest fan of mussels. One too many rubbery-renditions have put me off them. In spite of this, The Market House put a dent in my disdain. Super soft with the right amount of chew the mussels benefited greatly from the curry. The true draw for this dish was the curry sauce. Super creamy and subtly spicy, you get grilled peasant bread for dipping. I ended up eating just bread and sauce at one point, not being able to resist sopping it all up (despite my dislike of soggy bread. again touche MH). If Market House sold this sauce in a saucer with bread I’d visit every weekend.

My evening with Woodford

Six drinks .. Two winners .. One night celebrating bourbon the only way bartenders and mixologists know how– a competition.

September 30 Woodford Reserve held a Mixology competition in conjunction with the Omaha/Lincoln chapter of the US Bartending Guild at 1316 Jones. The rules were simple:

  • $10 to enter
  • Woodford must be the base
  • Bring your own bar tools and judging glassware
  • No more than SIX ingredients although syrups, infusions and the like count as one
  • Recipes must be expressed in fluid ounces, and divided in respectively whole numbers, with dashes and drops being the smallest quantities
  • Cocktail content must be between three ounces and eleven
  • No fire or flames in prep
  • Cocktail must be named (no copyrighted or trademarked material outside of Woodford’s name)

As the event was open to the public, each cocktail was “judged” twice. Once by the small crowd that turned out and officially by the USBG judges. The space was open and yet inviting. Heavy hors d’oeuvre were provided including fruits and cheeses.

A  cash bar was available but the turnout was on the smaller side, so enough samples were available to get your fill without spending extra $$. There was only one real rule for the general public– no samples until the judges visited a table.

The Players

Dillon of Venue Restaurant & Lounge Lincoln
Averna Amaro, Aperol, dark Morello cherry & a vanilla cardamom foam

Dillon described his offering as a mix of tradition and non, Aperol traditionally being a pre dinner drink while Amaro is enjoyed after. The real winner in this drink was the foam, the vanilla played off the cardamom just right. Unfortunately it also stole the show, leaving some to be desired outside the soaked cherries.

Barrie of Venue Restaurant & Lounge Lincoln
Amaro Nonino, chokecherry jam, Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s Teapot Bitters

The Venue’s second offering of the night, this was undisputably the most traditional of the night. A great Manhattan by any means, but not quite what you expect from a mixology competition.

Luke of Berry & Rye Omaha
fig, sour caramel fig, peach juice, sherry

A crowd favorite Luke’s offering reminded me of something I’d just started to miss– the summer. The peach and fig played nicely off each other with the sherry giving this dink a mellow finish.

Graham of Sandy’s Lincoln
orange liqueur, dry vermouth, orange bitters, homemade cinnamon syrup

A surprising offering from a college town bar staple Graham’s drink was thoughtful and deliberate. I wanted to enjoy it after the amazing back story he gave while preparing samples, but the orange did me in. The combo of both bitters and liqueur was just too much for me to handle.

Justin of House of Loom Omaha
sweet potato brown sugar puree, baked marshmallow whipped cream, hot water, benedictine, ginger mist, grated cinnamon

The most PSL seasoney drink of the night Justin’s offering was reminiscent of a grown-up Hot Toddy you want to drink on purpose. The whipped cream was stellar and though I stay away from sweet potatoes generally the puree added the right touch to the only warm/hot drink of the night.

Devon of Wicked Rabbit Omaha
Cointreau, rhubarb bitters, brut champagne, fig preserves, caramel apple

My favorite of the night, a spin on a French 75. Though the caramel apple was an afterthought the drink was surprisingly well composed to be an hour before the competition decision. My love of champagne may be speaking for me but I’d drink this at Wicked Rabbit any day (once it opens).

There can only be (one) Two?

After a brief period where the crowd descended on each table like a pack of wolves, drinking both samples and full-sized preparations the judges made their decision. While acknowledging every entry was high quality and a lot of the decision came down to judges taste they had to pick someone. The real judging criteria:

  • Appearance
  • Aroma
  • Imagination
  • Taste
  • Overall Impression (in case of a tie)
  • Technical Criteria (based on USBG technical standards)

In first place was Luke’s Figuratively Peaching with Justin’s Bourbon My Sweetie Pie bringing in second. Both drinks I enjoyed in different ways (Justin’s was my second choice) and deserving of recognition.

My first USBG Omaha/Lincoln event didn’t disappoint and quality connections were made. Truly looking forward to more from the group.