In a time where borders seem to close at rapid speed all over the globe and mistrust is spreading, it is great to meet a restless soul who has gone where the agave spirits took him, and never looked back. “Agave Love” is a book about tequila/mezcal spirits but it is also, and perhaps more, a book about agave spirituality. About taking life at face values, having fun and walking on.
“Agave Love” by Phil Bayly is an autobiography and personal memoir. Over some 220 pages and
6 chapters the author tells about his life and travels/work with a lot of people in the tequila/mezcal industry. The chapters describe a period from 1980 to the present day.
Phil Bayly, an australian by birth, has a creative background (Arts education from James Cook University and South Australian School of Art ) and works as a Mezcal Ambassador (since 2017) and Managing Director at “Agave Love”, which is “a series of networking events about sharing the passion and knowledge of the Agave and Maguey spirits of Mexico amongst growers, producers, bartenders, spirits professionals and enthusiasts” (LinkedIn).
The book is richly illustrated with Phil Baylys own excellent photos – some illustrating events and places and some work as illustrations on a more metaphorical level.
The historical/economic background for the book “Agave Love” is of course the growth of the tequila/mezcal category in Mexico and internationally. Agave spirits, and especially tequila has experienced a tremendous growth with brands like Cuervo, Sauza, Herradura and Patron. Tequila as a category still grows with rapid speed.
A lot of people have work hard to change the global perception that tequila is a cheap party spirit and helped put focus on smaller craft distilleries and brands and one of the most wellknown is probably Tomas Estes, who has just recently passed away.
Tomas Estes who created the chain of cafés/bars called Café Pacifico with the first being established in the Netherlands in 1976. The chain quickly grew to Paris, Sydney, London and other international locations serving mexican cuisine and good quality tequila and mezcal. The CRT in Mexicon gave Tomas Estes the title of Tequila Ambassador and he made a lot of presentations on agave, tequila, terroir and Tequila Ocho around the world.
The agave spirit
“Agave Love” is mainly an autobiography and as such holds a bunch of stories and anecdotes about touring in Mexico, setting up new cafés and meeting likeminded agave lovers.
One of the many anecdotes details the trip from Amsterdam to Italy in 1988. Tomas Estes, Yim and Phil Bayly have taken the night train to Milano. They are absolutely loaded with all sorts of stuff meant for the opening of the fourth Cafe Pacifico – this time in Milano. Loaded to the brink with old schoolhouse lampshades for the bar, framed and unframed images, bottles of Tequila and Mezcal for the back bar, and décor and boxes or eclectic decorative bits and pieces, religious icons, ashtrays, little statues, paintbrushes and paint. The enormous amount of luggage was immediately a problem and impossible to stuff into a single compartment. The train attendant helps them out and allows them to use an empty compartment. Thus settled and travelling south through Holland, the mood rises with the opening of a bottle of tequila. Time flies and suddenly Phil, who has brought a big joint in the luggage, realizes that they are close to Arnheim and about to leave Holland for Germany.
Crossing the border will bring in the german customs guards and their sniffer dogs. So the three of them immediately fires up the joint and stand in the gangway pulsing the joint as fast as they can so it is not going to waste. Completely and utterly high they stumble laughing back in their compartment and lit some indonesian clove cigarettes which gives off a tremendous stink while they continue emptying tequila bottles. The german guards open the compartment door and – very quickly – withdraws from the smoky stink of indonesian cigarettes having stamped the passports. They eventually arrive in Italy, hungover but in high moods and are read to move the mountain of decor for the new café to its destination.
As the story ends… The agave helps you travel.
The many photos, which are mainly in black and white, gives a lot of mood to the book, as does the gonzo-style typewriter typography. It’s an enjoyable read which gives off a good and inspiring vibe.
Drink tequila, enjoy life, have fun!
“Agave Love”can be bought here: https://www.agavelove.com.au/