Tahona Society was launched in 2009. It is the biggest educational platform in tequila.

The goal was to share Altos Tequila’s commitment to sustainability, to help bartenders to learn and educate and to create a bartending community that helps each other. Altos Tequila was founded by two London based bartenders, Dre Masso and Henry Besant and their ambition from the beginning has been to create a brand by bartenders, for bartenders.

Genuine commitment to sustainability

According to the global brand ambassador of Altos Tequila Simon Kistenfeger, they have a genuine commitment to sustainability. Most of their bio waste is turned into compost that is given out to local communities to use in farming. All of their non recyclable waste in a year fits in one freight truck! Closed-loop distillation system helps to save energy and water and sustainable agave farming ensures preservation of the species.

Altos also provides reliable, permanent jobs for their employees: instead of hiring the people just for harvesting season, they arrange all year around positions in the distillery. Altos is not just trying to polish their image, they actually work for more sustainable way of doing business.

– I am really proud of what we do for example with our compost. We are very committed and we are really trying to make a difference. We really have to try to protect the earth. That is beyond brands. We as people have a tendency of looking away and thinking that “it is not my problem, it is not my fault", but we are all in this together, Kistenfeger tells.

Smile takes you a long way

Last year the Tahona Society competition had a theme of local street food and sustainability. The winner was Jeppe Northlev from Denmark. The reasons for his victory didn’t lie in his ultimate cocktail recipe or superior skills in bartending: it was his way of helping others that charmed the judges.

– He always had a smile on and he shared his knowledge: he didn’t act like a rockstar but was helping others. He was authentic and his personality carried him to victory, Kistenfeger tells.

While competing, it is important to give out your personal best at all times, not just during the heats. Even though judges give points on your performance, they can’t rule out your presence and personality.

Tahona Society Collective Spirit is a totally new competition this year. It is not all about cocktails, it is about bartending and how you can do good with it. There are several different themes in the competition. For their entry, contestants can choose one or more.

– It is difficult to say, whether it is better to stick to one theme or to go with multiple. There are bartenders attending from small and big bartender communities from around the world and everyone has a different approach. It might be that people who choose to incorporate more than one theme in their entry might have an advantage since they showcase multiple values in their project, Kistenfeger speculates.

– Very often in competitions I see sustainable drinks made with “zero waste” and after the heat contestants throw away all of their leftover ingredients to garbish! Sustainability is not something that you do to look cool, it should be a way of working, Kistenfeger says.

Bartending can make a difference in the world

Tahona Society competition has been running for a couple of years. This year it is going even deeper to the theme of sustainability. Bartenders are invited to showcase “an initiative, event or project based out of your bar, to increase sustainable practices, help the local community, or improve the wellbeing of your fellow bar staff.”

– In many competitions you just enter, perform and possibly win. You get to be a rockstar for a year, but where is the benefit for the community? We try to have people to team up to make a better world. Life happens now: why do we have to wait for something life threatening to happen before we act? Kistenfeger asks.

As an example of possible ideas for the entries, Kistenfeger presents many different projects. From large scale events like Speedrack – a female only bartending competition raising money to breast cancer education, prevention and research – to local projects like Casa del Agua which is turning rain water to drinking water by distillation in Mexico City.

10 teams get to go to Mexico to battle for $50 000 for their project. The winner also gets the support of Pernod Ricard marketing team and has the opportunity to showcase their project as the Tahona Society Brand Ambassador around the world.

– Even if you don’t win the big price in the end, you have still done something good for nature and your community! That should be a good enough reason to enter, Kistenfeger tells.

Rules of the competition: https://www.tahonasociety.com/node/4/