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Amid an ever-growing market of tequilas and spirits as profiled in The Hollywood Reporter — including celebrity brands such as Justin Timberlake’s 901 Silver Tequila and George Clooney and Randy Gerber’s Casamigos — comes El Silencio, a specially crafted mezcal set to hit shelves in Los Angeles later this summer.
Individually labeled, numbered and signed by its master mezcalier, the unaged, or joven, beverage harks back to the meticulous care and tradition of Oaxaca, Mexico — birthplace of El Silencio and home to its maguey agave source plant. Most mezcals come from this region, where El Silencio creators Fausto Zapata, Vicente Cisneros and Diego Gutierrez sought inspiration after years of observing an industry straying from Oaxacan values and leaning heavily on mass production.
Referencing the country’s growing respect for mixology, Zapata sees a real opportunity for El Silencio to break big. “These are people very turned on by the world of distilled spirits, handcrafted spirits and small batch production,” he says. “I feel a relationship with people who are thinking outside of the box.”
As an entrepreneur with previous ventures in real estate and entertainment, Zapata holds a special fondness for the food and beverage industry, as evidenced by L’Scorpion, the upscale Hollywood Boulevard tequila lounge he co-opened with several partners, including his wife. Though his participation in the bar was short-lived — they eventually sold their shares — it opened his eyes to the city’s appreciation for high-quality spirits. His love for mezcal, shared by Cisneros and Gutierrez, roused the idea to launch a brand of their own.
The tipping point came through their involvement with The Chase Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to helping children deal with illness and hospitalization. Moved by the foundation’s mission, they threw a fundraiser on May 22 that transformed The Ten Pound lounge in The Montage Beverly Hills into an intimate mezcaleria. The charity event sold limited tickets at $1,000 apiece. There, El Silencio made its debut.
“You have to start local,” says Cisneros of the fundraiser. In addition to El Silencio, he recently co-founded Scatterlight Studios, a postproduction studio specializing in VFX, on Sunset Boulevard. And as a father of two, he’s proud of the mezcal’s sponsorship of the children’s foundation. “It was just a natural match.”
Although they plan on an eventual global release for El Silencio — named after the eponymous bar in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive — Cisneros remains adamant that they never lose sight of its heritage and Hollywood roots.
“This is a product that is born in L.A.,” he says. “It’s for L.A.”
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