RIP Tomas Estes, 1945 – 2021. A tribute to a great man.

Phil Bayly (left) with his dear friend Tomas Estes. All images supplied by Phil Bayly

Today we heard some very tragic news from a dear friend of Australian Bartender, Mr Phil Bayly. He told us that his compadre and friend over many decades, and a man well-known to us, Mr Tomas Estes has tragically passed away.

Here’s what his dear friend Phil Bayly had to say:

“Having spent more than four decades working, collaborating, travelling, drinking, learning, having fun, getting into trouble, fighting, losing friends, gaining new ones and most of all sharing the Agave Love around the world with this amazing human, I am heartbroken.

“He opened venues and closed them. In some he had huge success and in others not. He lived a life like very few can ever imagine. He was a bohemian at heart with a ‘Beat’ soul.

“Kerouac and Muhammad Ali were icons for him as was Mahatma Gandhi.”

Phil also shared a beautiful quote from Julio Bermejo writing about Tomas and Tequila,

“Tomas had a unique vision. It is almost as if he has a Zen-like presence and aura. …what is beautiful about Tomas is that he will look at this subject, not just from the point of view of the distilled spirit industry, or agave, or Tequila bars and Mexican venues – he will also look at it in terms of some greater good and value for everyone who is in hospitality.”

As well as being one of the nicest people you could hope to meet, Estes was a tequila ambassador to Europe, set up Cafe Pacifico over there,  wrote a highly-valued and much sought-after book, called The Tequila Ambassador, and poured his heart and soul into his own tequila, Tequila Ocho, which he made with the influential Camarena family.

We were lucky to have him contribute to our magazine many times (you can read his story on terroir right here) and he was a frequent visitor to Sydney for Bar Week.

David Spanton, founder of Bartender magazine and Bar Week, who had the pleasure of travelling with Tomas in Mexico, said:

“Tomas was a giant of the world bar and drinks industry whose kind and gracious personality made him loved by so many around the world. I have had the pleasure of knowing Tomas for almost two decades. I watched him talk about the world of agave spirits with such love and passion that you knew you were witnessing a true legend in action.

“One of my all-time favourite nights was spent at La Capilla Bar while touring distilleries around Mexico with Tomas, Phil and a large international group of bartenders drinking and causing mayhem and I know many more people have the exact same memories. My thoughts and prayers go to your family and may you know rest in peace. I will be having a few Ocho Tommy’s Margaritas tonight.”

Phil compiled a list of achievements and events that Tomas pioneered for the Tequila Industry over the years.

1985    Semana Del Tequila, week long celebrations and awareness events in London, Paris, Amsterdam

2002    Tequileros visit, Café Pacifico, London, UK

2003 Recognition as official Tequila Ambassador to EU

2006    Distinctivo T – ORO awarded by the CRT

Café Pacifico – London, Sydney,

La Perla – Paris and London

2006    Second Tequila Ambassador recognition EU from CRT

2007    Tequila All Stars, Isle Bendor, France. The largest and only gathering of producers, regulators and media for a three day conference looking at the future of the industry

2007    Lifetime Achievement Award from Theme Magazine

2007    Created ‘Tequila Ocho’ (the world’s first Tequila based on Terroir)

2008    Tequila Embassy, Bar 08, London Bar Show, UK

2009    Tequila Embassy, Bar 09, London Bar Show, UK

2010    Created ‘Curado Tequila’ (the world’s first certified Blanco Tequila containing cooked agave)

2011    Tequila Embassy, Moscow Bar Show, Russia

2015    Chairman’s Award from Imbibe Magazine’s “Outstanding Personality of the Year”

2019    Lifetime Achievement Award from FIBAR (Féria Internacional Cocktail Bar)

2020    Lifetime Achievement Award from CLASS Magazine

Vale Tomas!