Say Mexican glassware and we all think of the iconic modern margarita glass and the cocktail* that goes in it, but Mexico has a long and honourable tradition of glass-making. Craftsmen brought to Mexico by the Spanish as long ago as the 16th century were the first to produce hand blown glass on the North American continent. Since then Mexican master craftsmen have given the art of vidrio soplado or mouth-blown glass-making their own flair.
Glass blowers at work
In 2001 Caoba began working directly with small Mexican businesses to develop the wide selection of glassware the shop carries today. The skill of glass blowing has been passed down through the generations and today’s workers are fiercely proud of their craft. Visiting the family-run glass workshops is always one of the most exciting features of our buying trips to the region. The workshop floor is a hot, all-male environment, full of machismo bravado and humour but none of that detracts from the speed, dexterity and artistry with which these artists work; from molten glass to wine glass in 12 minutes.
The vidrio soplado Caoba stocks is all made from recycled glass. Old un-reusable glass such as beer and Coke bottles are saved from the landfill, melted down in the workshop furnaces and refashioned into our unique, eco-friendly Mexican glassware range. The traditional style blue-rimmed glass is complimented by bright, jewel-like reds, orange and aquamarines, as well as multi-coloured confetti designs, in all shapes and sizes from wine and high-ball glasses to (naturally) the Margarita glass.
An elegant, fluted champagne-style glass from Caoba
No one piece of glass is the same as another; mouth-blowing recycled glass means each item will have slight variations in shape and colour with little trapped air bubbles, like frozen champagne. This unique finish cannot be achieved by mechanised techniques.
On a practical level Mexican recycled glass is sturdy and dishwasher proof. But be aware, because it is so solid extremes of heat should be avoided. If taken straight out of the dishwasher, let it cool down before piling the ice in and don’t use with boiling water.
During one of our first trips to Mexico we discovered that ever-enterprising Mexican artisans had taken their glass-making skills to the streets. Setting up stalls with rods of coloured glass, pliers and
blow torches they can swiftly pinch out delicate flamingoes, octopus, parrots, lizards and chillies from the hot glass to sit atop cocktail or swizzle sticks. Needless to say, we had to bring these back too.
*Yes, we mean the Margarita (Daisy in Spanish). There are many theories and traditions about how the Margarita came into being; my own favourite is the Prohibition-based theory, that thirsty Americans drove over the border and had their brandy-based Daisy cocktail remade with Tequila…. !Ya esta! the Margarita was born (possibly).
Whatever its origins, the December 1953 issue of Esquire Magazine named it their Drink of the Month and published the first recorded recipe:
A dash of Triple Sec
The juice of ½ lime or lemon
Rub the rim of a stem glass with the rind of a lemon or lime, dip rim in a shallow plate of salt to coat. Pour the tequila, Triple Sec and juice over the crushed ice in a container and stir. Strain into the glass and enjoy.