Mexican Jewish chef Dafna Mizrahi prepares Curamia tequila – the forward
Once upon a time there was a woman in Guadalajara who was so beautiful that she was called La Mujer Mas Bella – The most beautiful lady. But it was her inner beauty that inspired her granddaughter, Dafna Mizrahi, to make tequila.
“Everyone knew my grandmother because of her beauty, but especially her inner beauty,” Mizrahi said of his mother’s mother, Estela Flores Moreno, who had seven children. “There was always an eighth place at the table for anyone who needed it, and extra clothes for anyone who needed it, and she had the biggest heart I’ve ever known.”
Estela loved tequila and had a small drink at the start of family meals.
“My grandmother was the first person I tasted tequila with,” Mizrahi said. “We would go to lunch or dinner as a family together and she would always ask for some tequila to start her meal.” Most people slaughter it or mix it with juice and sugar, Mizrahi said. “But in our traditions as Jews, it’s like drinking a sip of wine on Shabbat.”
The press launch of Mizrahi’s new tequila, Curamia, took place at the private bar in PJ Clark’s Lower Manhattan outpost. Mizrahi recommended that we sip the pure Curamia first, as her grandmother drank hers. She then mixed it with two cocktails created for the occasion. One, called Estela, was a light, luminous drink made from fresh citrus juice and sparkling water, served in terracotta cups handmade by the women of the distillery.
The second, called La Piña, was a frothy concoction made from pineapple juice served straight away. Pleasant to look at and delicious to drink, it captured all of the festive moment.
Born in the Mexican state of Jalisco, not far from the blue agave fields and Tequila distilleries, Mizrahi attended the Colejio Israelita Jewish School in Guadalajara from kindergarten to elementary school, where classes were in Hebrew a half the day and in Spanish the other half. . His family has both Ashkenazi and Sephardic roots, and they attended the synagogue every Friday.
Estela may have sparked Mizrahi’s interest in tequila, but it was her paternal grandmother, Soledad Mizrahi Alvoa, a wedding dress designer and passionate cook, who inspired her to become a chef.
“I was the kid who cooked for all Jewish holidays with my grandmother,” Mizrahi said. “I remember preparing for the holidays with my grandmother for four days. So there you have it, the circle is complete, where I make tequila for my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandmother for whom I went to culinary school. It is with this generosity and this authenticity that I grew up.
Mizrahi started thinking about launching his own brand of tequila a few years ago, but put it aside until his job in the hospitality industry dried up at the start of the pandemic. That’s when she hooked up with co-founder Melissa Del Savio, and the project took off.
“We need to focus on this during COVID, hence the name Curamia, which means ‘my cure’. And that was actually my cure during COVID. It was a project that kept us busy and allowed us to move forward.
The business they designed is almost entirely founded by women, funded by women, and staffed by women, including women workers in the distillery, 95% of whom are women.
“If I have returned from the day I was born, the great forces that have guided me to where I am today are all women,” Mizrahi said. “For me, it was to honor these women in my life by offering a beautiful product that showcases my culture.”
Mizrahi’s mother, who attended the Curamia launch party with her daughter, was another one of those women who steered her towards a future of food and drink, albeit inadvertently.
A dancer who started performing with the American Ballet Theater at the age of 14 and later opened her own dance studio in Mexico, Luisa Fernanda Schwartzman brought MIzrahi to New York each summer when she was there. went to dance or teach. She introduced her daughter to restaurateur Philip Scotti, who was then at Fiorello’s Café across from Lincoln Center and now owns PJ Clark’s.
Mizrahi ended up working for Scotti each summer, learning all aspects of the restaurant business and eventually attending the Culinary Institute of America.
Curamia comes in a sleek, clear glass bottle with a bright sunny orange label that offsets the crystal clarity White Tequila. (Reposado, añejo and crystalleno – an ultra-refined añejo – are in the works.) The product is made with an emphasis on sustainability, in one of the few distilleries to use a diffuser, which reduces waste when extracting almost all the juices of the piña, the bulb of the blue agave. What remains after pressing is put back into the soil as fertilizer.
Curamia is exceptionally smooth, almost delicate, with hints of citrus and herbs sourced from the dark volcanic soil of the Tequila Lowlands. Mizrahi uses the term terroir, which generally refers to the influence of land, soil, topography, climate, and other factors on the flavor and character of the wine.
“It’s our land, our traditions, our land,” she says, “it plays the same role with tequila. I got to know tequila differently. I learned to appreciate it, respect it, and honor the spirit of tequila, which is the spirit that I have myself. It is the identity of Mexico.
Mizrahi sums up what she learned from her grandmothers and how it applies to her brand new business: “You have to be genuine, show your heart, be there for people and people will remember you. “
The Estela Cocktail
Courtesy of Curamia Tequila
Coarse salt, for optional rim
1½ ounces of Tequila Curamia
½ ounce of fresh lime juice
½ ounce of fresh lemon juice
½ ounce of fresh grapefruit juice
2 ounces of club soda
Lemon, lime and orange wedge for garnish
If you salt the rim of the glass, moisten it and dip it in a plate of salt.
Mix the liquid ingredients together and serve in the glass over ice.