The Mexican-American actress launched Casa del Sol tequila alongside two Mexican women.
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Eva Longoria in an yellow dress sniffs a class of her tequila, Casa del Sol
Credit: Brian Bowen Smith

The taste of Mexico is an unforgettable one, with its fireworks of spices, potent drinks, and diverse flavors that ignite the senses. And where would the culinary world be without the sacred, almost medicinal liquid libation of tequila?

As such, Mexican-American actress Eva Longoria looks back to her roots with Casa del Sol, an ultra-premium tequila brand that she launched with Mariana Padilla and Alejandra Pelayo. The women-helmed company aims to elevate the voices of the community, focus on sustainable production, and share the magic of Mexican heritage with the world in its mystical storytelling.

Eva Longoria with Mariana Padilla and Alejandra Pelayo, the women behind Casa del Sol.
Credit: Brian Bowen Smith

"In a male-dominated business, you really have to be innovative," says Longoria. "We bring a lot to the table because we have a diversity of approach, and a different perspective and mindset that adds depth and value to our product. It allows us to think outside the typical male machismo framework that tequila is created on."

Tequila is known to be a largely male-run business — white male, in particular — often sidelining women who are essential in its production and consumption. But the three Mexican tastemakers are set to change the industry's narrative and write a proper love letter to their homeland. Longoria, who has been approached about creating a brand quite a few times, says Casa del Sol was the "first group that wanted to honor the craft and Mexican artistry, celebrating and pushing it forward. Liquid first. Heritage first. Culture first. Special union from the beginning," says the actress, who now lives part-time in Mexico City.

Mexico has no shortage of artisanal gifts, from tacos to textiles to, of course, tequila. In fact, these three Ts have now become international citizens, enjoyed by people around the world. The mastery of working by hand and maintaining generations-old wisdom makes it a true patrimony of the nation. Tequila production, in particular, is one of the nation's most prized possessions. Made from blue Weber agave, tequila follows a traditional production process when it comes to cooking and crushing with lava-rock stone, as well as a modern one in its distillation.

Casa del Sol respects the sacred methods of the land and further ages the drink in cognac barrels handcrafted with French Limousin oak. This gives the drink a luxury refinement, a modern kind of heritage that's ultimately one of the pillars of the tequila house.

The brand fosters a close relationship with the farmers, jimadors, and distillers, celebrating the people of Jalisco. The agave comes from the Highlands, where it's watered naturally during the rainy season and harvested after seven years of maturation. Each selected agave is replanted with an offspring once the soil has had the chance to regenerate. Through this process, the biodiversity of the region is conserved without overfarming, which has become quite common in past years. The distillery also uses agave biomass for the cooking process to eliminate pollution, as well as solar panels to power the production. A responsible production process has always been at the core of the company.

Casa del Sol also draws inspiration from the Aztec goddess Mayahuel. As the legend goes, she wanted to protect herself and her lover, the God of Wind, from her spiteful grandmother with sharp agave leaves. Her grandmother hit the plant with a bolt of lightning, burning it to the ground. All that remained was a single spire and piña filled with agave nectar, completing Mayahuel's transformation into the Goddess of Agave.

Mariana Padilla and her father Paco Padilla.
Credit: Brian Bowen Smith

Today, at Casa del Sol, the tradition is carried out by Alejandra Pelayo and Mariana Padilla. Pelayo is the protégé and goddaughter of the late Francisco Alcaraz, legendary head tequilero of one of the most renowned tequila brands in the world. She continues to honor the legacy of one of the most famous tequila makers in history. The Padilla family also has deep roots in the tequila industry, surrounded by the greatest maestros tequileros in the region. Together, these three women keep the spirit of tequila alive at Casa del Sol. One can expect a few new launches from the brand this year, including an Añejo Reserve.

Longoria says that she hopes to open up the distillery, which is located in Arandas near Guadalajara, to the public soon and involve the generations of families working for the brand to share their wisdom. The city of Tlaquepaque, not far from Guadalajara, is one of the most culturally rich in the region, with its colorful paper flags and ceramics. In fact, Padilla's father, Paco Padilla, is a well-known ceramics designer in the region. Longoria says it's one of her favorite places in Jalisco, and a must-visit for it's fine blown glass and beautiful traditional crafts.

"I also love Guadalajara — downtown is really magical, with its architecture and history," she says. "There are so many iconic places, whether it's a tavern or a restaurant or a taqueria. There's an electric and eclectic vibe in Jalisco." Guadalajara is an old city with a young heart, beating to the rhythm of its traditional tacos and contemporary chefs making waves on world food charts. The region of Jalisco is known for some of Mexico's most essential elements, including tequila, as well as mariachi, sombreros, and folkloric dance. Surrounded by mountain ranges, the beach, woods, and desert, it is a stunning Mexican experience.

"I take any chance that I get to be an ambassador for Mexico's food, beauty, culture, and music, but most of all the people," says Longoria. "The people of Mexico are some of the best human beings in the world."

And indeed she delivers. Longoria will be hosting CNN's show Searching for Mexico, a spinoff of Stanley Tucci's Searching for Italy, later this year. The show is about to kick off filming, and Jalisco is sure to be a special stop on the journey across Mexico.