Spend an evening with Tomas Estes and a bottle (or so) of Ocho tequila—for the two are virtually inseparable—and you will undoubtedly come away with a story to tell; and if it’s only Ocho you fill your glass with that night, whether you squint against the sunrise or tuck in just before, it’s also one you’ll be able to repeat the next morning in a voice above a whisper.
Why people treasure these stories and the global family they’ve helped to build are what this project is all about.
In 1965, while most of the rest of the world was carousing with a caramel-hued, tequila-esque product that left them haggard and bleary-eyed the next day, Tomas was deep in the throes of Mexico learning about agave spirits and developing a reverence for them he would go on to dedicate his life to imparting to others. What he saw was far more than a liquor that would blur or outright obliterate the edges, send you hooting and hollering into the night; he saw a liquid that birthed connections; a drink that brought people together and held them there. Each time he sat down with someone and a fine bottle of tequila (tequilas that, incidentally, would not start showing up in the US until the early 90s), time would dissolve into the fluid conversation; by the end of the night, they would feel like family. A far cry from the superficial interactions and dynamics of life in Los Angeles where he grew up, Tomas saw this as how life ought to be lived and tequila as a natural accompaniment to some of the best parts of it.
When he came to create Ocho with Carlos Camarena, Tomas naturally imbued it with this same vitality in hopes that it would go on to act as a catalyst that brought people together, a spirit that would continue to grow this idea of family he so deeply valued on its own around the world; and as often as possible, he vowed to be among both familiar and unfamiliar faces, glass raised, listening to what they had to say.
The Ocho Global Family Story Project is a chance for us to gather and share some of the stories inspired by this choice. And while we’d much rather be exploring them in person with glasses raised, consider this a virtual version of that experience, with just as much love in it, until the next time we can.