It all begins in Sonora Mexico

Linda Trest
Staff Writer

Amigo Brands, LLC, an international company headquartered in Gerald produces bacanora, a liquor made from the agave pacifica plant.

CEO Ruben Lopez explains that strict regulations require that bacanora can only be produced in the Mexican state of Sonora. 

Sonora is located just south of Arizona, and Lopez partners with farmers there to produce his product. 

The agave pacifica plant grows wild in Sonora, but most of it is poached, Lopez explains. With the stiff penalties for production of bacanora a vivid memory, Mexican producers are still a little nervous to speak publicly of the liquor. 

Still, demand for a crop is what drives the farming business, so several farmers work with the 37 licensed producers in Sonora.  

Bacanora has been produced for more than 300 years. The locals took it to the fermentation stage and enjoyed their local drink. 

Spanish missionaries arrived and introduced the distillation process, which raises the alcohol content for an even more powerful drink.

When they reach maturity, the agave plants are pulled from the ground. Then, following a centuries old tradition, the pinas --—or root balls--—are tossed into underground ovens. 

These hand-dug ovens are eight feet deep and lined with mesquite, the only wood readily available in Sonora. The pinas are then covered with huge metal sheets as they bake.

Once the pinas have cooked enough to soften, they are removed from the oven. This is extremely hot work in an extremely hot part of the world. The liquid is then extracted, fermented and distilled.

Lopez says his company sampled over 20 different brands in Sonora and chose whose flavor profiles they liked best.  

The bacanora is then shipped in bulk to their Las Vegas facility where it is filtered and bottled. The bottling is done in this country for quality control purposes. It is then distributed to limited areas of the United States. Lopez hopes the product will eventually be available world wide.

Currently, it is available in Gerald at The Bistro at the Mill. Two flavors are available, blanco is the pure version. Cream de Bacanora is a mocha cream flavor. Lopez says Amigo Brands uses a dairy mix from Wisconsin to create the perfectly smooth flavor.

While the drink is very popular in Lopez’s native Sonora, it is just being discovered in the States.

This product is so new to the United States that the regulating agency, the Tax and Trade Bureau, does not have it registered. The process of getting it recognized is grist for a separate article. 

In the meantime, grab a glass of bacanora and relax.

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