Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Piedra Azul Blanco

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

Will Gordon drinks his way through the bottom shelf of the liquor store...so you don’t have to.


I have recently married a good woman, which I may have mentioned in this space once or twice or constantly. I am very glad to be married, because when I was single my life was fine but not fair. Do you know how many times a sexy ballerina-chemist said unto single me, "Damn baby, how do you get your soup so simultaneously silky and chunky? And how do you find time to count out individual grains of cumin, as you surely must to achieve such perfect balance? I am sexily disappointed that you can't give me the recipes on account of each soup is a non-replicable batch of sui generis genius." Zero times. (No one says sui generis in real life, you see.) You know how many times my car was towed in those dark days? Once, possibly twice. Either way, in an infinitely unfavorable ratio to the ballerina-chemist-cumanist interaction.

But now that Bottom Shelf research director Emily and I are united as one in the eyes of her health insurance provider, I live a perfectly fair and equitable life. We share everything we can; sometimes evenly (like the blame for being so late with the thank-you cards) and the rest of the time logically (how could I allot so many pizza rolls to a woman who takes up so little space?). And when things can't be shared, we're usually able to compromise our way safely back to happiness. For instance, is it fair that we spent a precious Sunday afternoon at her beloved and my be-tolerated Boston Ballet Nutcracker? Yes, it is, because next Sunday we're attending my preferred adaptation. When you're reasonable adults with similar interests and complementary pizza roll appetites, things tend to work out.

One of the first compromises in our relationship involved liquor. She was a tequila girl and I a bourbon boy, and after a tense 10 seconds of negotiation it was resolved that we would henceforth both drink both. We approached our respective new spirits with open mouths and open minds, her guiding my agave education whilst I oversaw the Manhattan-making. Life was grand, if blurry.

Our next compromising situation was a lot trickier. Our life together started in New York, where we drank everything everywhere, and then moved to western Massachusetts, where we drank whatever they had wherever was open, before finally settling in Cambridge. This is a nice city with plenty of good places to drink plenty of good things, but it is also home to Emily's all-time favorite drink: The $5.50 house margarita at the Border Café. I do not like the Border Café. But I no longer hate it, because this summer I discovered the simple pleasure of their $2.99 cup of gumbo. It's not particularly tasty gumbo, because why would it be? But it's plenty good enough for $2.99. So after several seasons of fits and starts, we finally settled into a happy pattern of stopping at Border Café for the first 20 minutes of each Saturday afternoon adventure.

But then our Café days ended abruptly a couple of weeks before our wedding. It was Emily's unilateral decision, which would have been fine—welcome, even—were it not for the suspicious circumstances. It all happened so fast, without warning, that I couldn't help but suspect there had been an incident. Emily denies this is the case, though, and claims to have simply outgrown her favorite childhood fajitaria. At certain less secure moments I still wonder if there wasn't an incident, and if that incident didn't involve a wispy mustache, an employee discount, and a Saturday afternoon when I was otherwise occupied. But at those times I quickly summon Trust and Faith's shadiest cousin, Denial, and we get on with our happy lives, with me going gumboless and Emily going to Border on weeknights with her new friend, Allegedly Carolyn.

Since this Saturday afternoon Border off-crossing came about so quickly, we haven't had time to fully vet any prospective replacements, which means our (or at least my) tequila drinking is now mostly home-based. I've found a few passable 100% agave brands over the past year or two, but in these tumultuous times there's always room for more. That means it's back to the upper reaches of the Bottom Shelf to test out Piedra Azul Blanco, a $20ish Jaliscan sent my way by a sympathetic publicist who'd clearly heard of my recent troubles.

Piedra Azul Blanco smells like strawberries! You know those people who thumb their noses at frozen margaritas? Screw those people! The rest of us are breaking out the blender, jacking up the heat, and making tequila-strawberry slushies. Well, I mean, as long as PAB tastes as fine as it smells. [Pause, gulp.]

Sure, close enough! It's very smooth and gentle for the price range, with a slightly astringent floral note stepping on our strawberries a bit, but there's only moderate heat and none of the gym locker funk that undercuts much of its class, so let's declare Piedra Azul Blanco a winner.