President and owner of Moctezuma’s Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar, Bernie Garcia came up with the idea to feature upside-down sidecar bottles that hang from the rim of a margarita glass. When its popularity took off at the restaurants, he decided to create the naturally-flavored Grandeza orange liqueur to go with it.
The sidecar bottle was an innovative way to control the flow of liqueur, but also elevated the experience of Moctezuma’s margarita. It took a year for the patent to be approved, and then Garcia rolled out 15,000 clear, plastic bottles that clipped onto the glasses. Customers had the choice of orange, raspberry, blueberry or blackberry liqueur, and the initial restaurant testing revealed orange was the most-requested flavor, but Garcia wasn’t satisfied with any orange liqueurs currently on the market. Moctezuma had previously been using Grand Marnier, a cognac-based orange liqueur, in its margaritas. But the cognac dominated the flavor profile, drowning out the tequila.
Garcia set out to create a naturally-flavored orange liqueur that perfectly married with a margarita or mai tai. After testing out 20 to 25 different variations, the final product has a profile of bitter orange peels, sweetened with agave nectar from Mexico, and a hint of vanilla. Moctezuma went from selling 1,000 of its top-tier margaritas to 3,000 per month with the sidecar and newly-branded Grandeza liqueur.
After a nearly four-year process from inception to reality, Garcia said it’s exciting to see the reaction its getting from customers and on social media.
Grandeza liqueur is launching with the Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits distributor, the largest liqueur distributor in the country. The liqueur will be available in more Mexican restaurants over the next few weeks, and in commercial liquor stores over the next few months, Garcia said.
Two other flavors — raspberry and jalapeno lime — are also in the works, and will likely be launched in the next year or two. Garcia said aside from the orange, raspberry was the next top-selling flavor, and they’re in the midst of developing a jalapeno lime.
“The jalapeno, that one has been trickier, because we have to get the right spice,” Garcia said. “The flavor, it has that super fresh jalapeno flavor, that if someone else tries it in our restaurant, they think it’s made with infused jalapenos. We don’t want it to be too spicy. Some would say it’s not spicy enough. You can’t please everyone. Getting that right balance has been tricky.”
Moctezuma’s has locations in South Center and in the South Sound area.