In the fall of 2012, the luxurious resort of Rancho Valencia in San Diego completed its 10-month renovation. With a focus on health and wellness, the revived property extended its dining options with a special spotlight on the local food scene, fusing together a casual elegance with subtle nods to the equestrian influence of the region. Today, guests and locals can choose the gourmet, American fare of The Pony Room or revel in decadent dishes at the next store Veladora. And with great food must comes fantastic drinks—and Rancho Valencia does not disappoint with their hefty list of beer, wine and cocktails at the ready. But what many may not know about Rancho Valencia, and what certainly caught our attention, was their unique focus on tequila and agave spirits.
This recent endeavor—known as The All Agave Project—offers a unique tequila tasting membership and “Sip Sesh” seminars with distinguished, Mexican craft tequila makers like Guillermo Sauza of Fortaleza.
During each “Sip Sesh,” which takes place third Thursday of the month to educate and illuminate Rancho Valencia guests and local patrons on fine tequila, sippers can learn about the difference between Blanco, Reposado and Anejo tequila—all while under the direction of some acclaimed makers.
For those who wish to continue their palate practice, opt to join Rancho Valencia’s All Agave Tasting Tour, which allows you to taste the resort’s 100-plus variations of craft tequila and unique agave-derived spirits like Mezcal, Bacanora and Sotol during each visit to The Pony Room. You can even purchase your own tasting booklet to record your sensory journey and take part of a little competitive incentive: the first to tackle 100 or more different tequilas in a year will have their name engraved on the All Agave Tour trophy and a number of resort-related prizes.
The All Agave Project membership fee is $295 per year and comes with a tasting booklet that is kept at the resort and discounts to the “Sip Sesh” seminars. “Sip Sesh” seminars are $20 for members, $40 for member-guests and $60 for non-members.
But what would all this talk be if there weren’t a little recipe to wet your whistles? So thanks to Rancho Valencia, we are excited to highlight their signature Pony Room Sangrita, a spicy concoction served neat alongside tequila and mixed into some of Rancho Valencia’s signature cocktails such as their Sassy Sangrita (pictured).
• Pomegranate Juice: 2 C.
• Sugar: 2 C.
• Pomegranate Molasses: 2 Tbsp.
• Orange Blossom Water: 2 Drops
Blend all ingredients on high speed for several minutes until sugar is dissolved.
Sassy Sangrita (pictured)
• Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice: 1 oz.
• Fresh Lime Juice: ¾ oz.
• House Made Grenadine (ingredients above): ¾ oz.
• Fresh Lemon Juice: ½ oz.
• Chili Powder: ½ tsp.
• Jalapeno Pepper: 2 slices
• Serrano Pepper: 2 slices
Mix all ingredients. Allow pepper to steep until desired heat is achieved, for 1 to 2 days. Strain pepper. Serve neat as a sipping sidecar to blanco tequila.
To learn more about Rancho Valencia and The All Agave Project, visit www.ranchovalencia.com. –Kirstina Bolton