One of the most popular spirits around the world, tequila is distilled from the blue agave plant. To be a little more specific, agave is a member of the lily family and there are approximately 136 types of agave in Mexico. While Mexican law requires that all tequilas contain at least 51% agave, the spirits of Blue Nectar Tequila are made with 100% blue agave.
Founded in October 2011, Blue Nectar has accomplished plenty in its first five years. The brand — as founded by a father and son — has four varieties of tequila available: Blue Nectar Silver, Blue Nectar Reposado Extra Blend, Blue Nectar Reposado Special Craft, and Blue Nectar Añejo Founder’s Blend. Honors for Blue Nectar include a 95 point score from Tasting Panel Magazine, four stars from the Spirits Journal, a Gold Medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and a winning entry at Mexico’s Envase Y Embalaje Estelar contest.
While tequila is generally associated with Mexico, Blue Nectar has ties to our city. For starters, Nikhil Bahadur — the company’s Chief Operating Officer — attended Columbia Business School. Blue Nectar can currently be found in over 400 locations within our metropolitan area. Nikhil spoke to Downtown about the past, present and future of Blue Nectar. The acclaimed maker of spirits can be followed on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, in addition to keeping up a great website at www.bluenectartequila.com.
When did you first get serious about tequila?
Nikhil Bahadur: My first distillery visit was an amazing experience but it was the subsequent visits that strengthened my relationship with agave spirits. Spending countless weeks at the distillery with our Master Blender and the teams that both harvest the agaves and purposefully transform it into tequila allowed me to understand the spirit in a deeper way. Hearing their stories and being a part of the physical process was extremely powerful.
Was there a particular event that inspired you to leave behind the financial world and get into spirits?
NB: I’ve always wanted to feed the entrepreneurial spirit in me. A few years before we launched Blue Nectar, my father and I started gifting each other bottles of tequila for our birthdays. That ritual is what led us to meet both tequila and spirits industry folks who helped us build Blue Nectar.
Tequila used to be thought of as something that people do shots of, as opposed to sipping or enjoying it as a primary cocktail. When do you think Tequila changed in the eyes of the public?
NB: Premium 100% agave tequilas really didn’t take hold in the U.S. until the mid-1980s. It wasn’t until the early 2000s, however, that an increasing base of bartenders and consumers started to become knowledgeable about tequila and started sipping it or mixing it in more unique cocktails. We educate our fans to sip and savor it and we showcase it in quality cocktails because that really allows the consumer to taste the inherent complexity and differences in our juice.
What do you feel makes you brand different to others?
NB: Our partners in Mexico started off as agave farmers and then built a distillery. The agaves we use are grown on their fields surrounding the distillery, in the valley of Amatitán, so there is a true concept of terroir. Blue Nectar is well-known for how we blend our aged tequilas, something that is not common in the agave spirits world. We’re also serious about being genuine and transparent. We post our production process and details directly on our website. Most brands are either silent on this or purport that their methods are better than others, which is really disingenuous. Good tequilas have great people behind them but at the end of the day, it really comes down to an individual’s taste.
Do you have a favorite Blue Nectar Tequila?
NB: I love all our expressions — they are earthy and agave forward. Our Silver is dry and crisp with a minerality common for valley tequilas. It serves as a great base for cocktails. Both our Reposados and our Añejo are all very well-balanced. The agave isn’t overpowered by the oak.
What is your drink of choice?
NB: I’d say it’s the drink I didn’t have yesterday. I enjoy trying new things and being creative. My friend Yoichi from The Ship on Lafayette created a riff on the classic Negroni that we call “Chipilo,” named after a town in Mexico founded by Italian immigrants. It’s definitely one I go to often.
Where in New York City can people find Blue Nectar Tequila?
NB: We’re in over 400 bars, restaurants, hotels and liquor stores across the New York metropolitan area. Brooklyn Wine Exchange, Union Square Wines & Spirits, Chelsea Wine Vault and Flatiron Wines & Spirits are just a few. The best thing you can do if you don’t see Blue Nectar is to ask for it at your neighborhood bar or liquor store. We certainly appreciate the support.
What was the first bar in New York to carry Blue Nectar Tequila?
NB: One of our earliest supporters was Toloache on Thompson. They’ve got a great team and really put together a fantastic drinking and dining experience for their guests.
Tequila is generally thought of as best on the West Coast if not just Mexico entirely. Is it challenging to be presenting yourself as a Tequila conceptualized in New York?
NB: To the contrary. There is an amazing agave spirits community here in New York that is very knowledgeable and supports great producers and bartenders. The spirit is made in Mexico but there is some deep love for tequila here in New York City.
What’s ahead for Blue Nectar Tequila? More varieties? Partnering with other brands?
NB: We have a few exciting projects in the works. Our most recent is our Bespoke Blend program where liquor stores, bars and restaurants can blend their own unique variety of our Reposado Extra Blend. It’s been a great success and allows some of our biggest supporters to truly connect with the brand.
Is there an accomplishment for your brand that you’re most proud of?
NB: I’m really proud of the critical reception of our juice. Our Reposado Extra Blend was rated best Reposado Tequila by F. Paul Pacult’s Ultimate Spirits Challenge the last three years. Our Silver was a finalist the last two.
When you’re not busy with Blue Nectar Tequila, how do you like to spend your free time?
NB: I need more hobbies. Everyone always says family, friends and travel, and I love those things too, but I’ve been wanting to build something — furniture or something mechanical. Maybe learn to fly a plane?
As someone that went to school here in New York at Columbia Business School, do you have a favorite restaurant that you can recommend to our readers?
NB: My MBA may lend me some credibility in clichéd management phrases but probably not restaurants. My wife and I usually end up at Jake’s Handcrafted or Piccoli Trattoria, which are neighborhood spots with exceptional food.
Finally, Nikhil, any last words for the kids?
NB: Wait, are you planning on killing me? Can I sip on some Blue Nectar first? (laughs)