Tequila pours for $3k per bottle

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In a region of wine snobs, there are protocols and practices for proper wine drinking. Nose to the glass to sniff aroma, short sips to capture the flavor and, so help me, “texture” of the grape from which the wine was made. Of course, the geographical region is crucial to know, as well as vintage and the overall quality of the wine production the year in which the beverage was bottled. In El Dorado Hills, though, there’s a variation on this kind of purist play, tasting and testing tequila, instead of wine. At Pueblo Chico Cantina, open since last June across from the 14-screen Regal movie theater, the menu is Tex-Mex, plain and pure and with its own special flavors differentiating the food from traditional Mexican fare. Plenty to eat from a generous menu and 192 tequila labels served from the bar. In two tries, the food has been excellent, the service mostly so too. Margaritas, the tequila-based Mexican drink? Perfect. One customer has tried all 192 brands, another has worked his way through 152 and counting. And two customers have tapped the eatery’s primo tequila. Beware of this if you offer to buy a friend a margarita or straight-up shot of tequila. If he or she asks for a glass or shot of the house’s Dos Lunas label, switch the offer to coffee or dessert. A glass is priced at $300, per; a half glass or shot, $150. If you’ve had way too much tequila and hear yourself ordering the bottle, hope your friend is a good one and will quickly push you out the door and take you home. The 80 proof, 100 percent agave Dos Lunas tequila ages in a sherry cask in Mexico for 10 years. Only 1,000 unleaded Bacarat crystal bottles are produced. Pueblo Chico stores its bottle in a black-finished box, wrapped in black velvet. A pour is a presentation. A full bottle of the engraved crystal decanter with the etched Dos Lunas scroll and its heavy crystal stopper are yours for $3,000. No takers yet on the bottle but one customer popped for the $300 glass of Dos Lunas, another ventured a $150 shot. Said the first sampler: “It was worth it for $300,” reported Alma Martinez, whose business card title is “creative development” but who also is protectoress of the Dos Lunas liquid gold. The local restaurant owns bottle No. 43 of 1000. Some Dos Lunas bottles have sold on line for $1,000. Empty. The 2,300-square-foot Pueblo Chico is a family-run business that besides Alma, 27, includes her sisters Monica Martinez Lopez, 34, the general manager, and Amanda, 24, who works in the kitchen, waits tables and is learning the business, plus their parents and an uncle, operating as a joint partnership. Alma and Monica will teach you the proper way to drink tequila, either one “pony” glass at a time or three, all the same brand, with a fourth glass, this of wine, served as a chaser. Most customers order margaritas to “sip it neat” in a pony glass, no salt on the rim, no blender. Pueblo Chico has a Tequilismo Club, whose members receive a ring stamped with the number of the tequila brand they have ordered, to avoid accidental repetition for those whose goal is to try all 192 labels. No ring, though, comes with a $300 snort of the classy Dos Lunas. Pueblo Chico Cantina is located at 2023 Vine Street, Suite 200, in El Dorado Hills. They can be reached at 939-9153. Art Garcia is a career journalist who lives in El Dorado Hills and is editorial director of Media Mark, a professional writing firm.