Did you know that mezcala and tequilas were bottled and savored in Tucson over a century ago? Ironically, only a small percentage of the current residents of Tucson realize that these wild plants were artisanally processed for food and beverages up through recent decades.
Most have never heard of Old Pueblo pioneer Julius Goldbaum who, from 1886 to 1903, distilled, bottled and marketed local mezcals and imported tequilas on the corner of Congress and Meyer in what is now downtown Tucson.
Also known as Julius Goldtree, this pioneering businessman of the Old Pueblo bought mescal bacanora from Soyopa, Sonora, tequila from Jalisco, and probably distilled some home-brewed mescal on his lands in Santa Cruz County, Arizona as well.
But by 1920, Prohibition made local distillation an act of illegal bootlegging, so the tradition went “underground” to survive—especially among Mexican-Americans who had grown up with this tradition south of the border.
While locally-harvested mesquite flour and prickly pear fruit beverages have made a commercial comeback in southern Arizona, the local harvesting and sales of value-added foods and beverages from agaves have not yet enjoyed such a revival.
DON’T YOU THINK IT’S TIME TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT?
-Gary Nabhan, Bill Steen & Wendy Hodgson