Henry, Forever a Tequila Man
This year we commemorate the fifth anniversary of the passing of a beloved and valued member of our community, Henry Besant. We are honored to announce that his legacy will live on through a noble cause—a scholarship for a young, talented and creative bartender.
When Henry Besant and Dré Masso discovered the passionate world of Tequila in 2004, their ever-evolving path of entrepreneurship began. Endless projects opened before their eyes, from educational programs and bartender trainings, liquor consultations, bar openings and book publishing, to one of their greatest achievement- collaborating with Maestro Tequilero Jesús Hernández to found Altos Tequila.
It was fourteen years ago when they took their first trip to Mexico along with well-known figures on the world bartending scene, including specialized journalists, bar owners, bartenders and consultants. While gaining an in-depth knowledge of tequila distilleries, they also visited mezcal palenquesand became enmeshed in the passionate world of agave distillation.
Henry’s contributions to tequila culture
When they returned to London from this first trip to México, Henry and Dré arrived with new ideas and dreams, which gave way to their first project, the Worldwide Cocktail Club. Through this mixology consultation company, they led educational programs for multiple liquor brands. A year later, they wrote Margarita Rocks,a fun book with 70 tequila-based cocktail recipes.
Another of Henry’s achievements was the creation of the iconic, border-transcending Jasmine Tea Margarita.You can find the recipe in the book as well as on the Altos Tequila website.
After publishing their book, they opened their first bar, Green & Red Mexican Cantina. Dré speaks with pride of their extensive 100% agave tequila collection of over 200 brands,“thelargest in Europe at the time.”
Meanwhile, the duo sought out quality, 100% agave tequilas for a London that, at the time, had very few options available. So they decided to work with different brands, doing seminars and tastings, while promoting their passion.
In 2007, they met the team from the Olmeca and Tezón tequilas. Together, and along with Jesús Hernández and the distillery team, they worked on the blend between Tezón and Tahona, which would later become what we now know as Altos, the first 100% agave tequila made by bartenders for bartenders.
While the Altos brand was being consolidated in 2007, they continued working with two other tequilas, Tezón and Olmeca, for a year and a half. It was during this time that they developed a platform to train bartenders around the world, a key part of the Tahona Society concept: a network of bartenders who shared Henry and Dré’s long-time passion for tequila.
The Henry Bessant Scholarship
Henry always sought to give something back to the community that had done so much for him. During his life, he not only led the bartender training program that sought to develop new talent, he also supported the ideas and ventures of the younger generation.
This is why The Henry Besant Scholarship was created, providing an award of $10,000 dollars to a young bartender(orsomebody new to the trade) to be used to fund a technical course for career advancement.
The global judging panel, including Pernod Ricard México representatives and Dré Masso, chose the winner of the Henry Besant Scholarship for 2018. The winner is invited to attend the finals of the Tahona Society Collective Spirit Competition in Mexico and encouraged to enter a project for that competition. But the main purpose of the trip is to gain experience, receive mentoring from Altos representatives and fellow Tahona Society members, and make contacts. They will also receive the $10,000 grant to further their education and training.
Adrián López, the talented recipient of The Henry Bessant Scholarship
Adrián, called“Lucky”by his friends, is 26 years old, was born in Nezahualcoyotl, in the State of Mexico, and was raised by his mother and grandparents. At such a young age, with great discipline, ambition and the right attitude, he has become a star in the Mexican bartending scene.
In 2011, he started out as a bar assistant and then bartender at the Club Social Rhodesia, without knowing that his work would become his passion and what he most loves doing. After applying for several jobs and getting rejected, he was able to establish his own path in the bartending world.