Accounting for Alcohol – part 9 “Life of the party: tequila in the American marketplace”
This is a brief summary of chapter 9 in our book, written by Marie Sarita Gaytan.
Tequila, nowadays, is a globally popular drink. Its origins are from a drink (also from the Agave plant) called pulque. As a Spanish colony, Mexico, had vast supplies of agave. Technological advancements in the process of distillation, in the early 18th century saw the commercial production of mezcal, a generic name for all distilled agave spirits. Demand for mezcal from Tequila increased when Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. By the turn of the 20th century, tequila was being marketed in the US, and by 1907, there were 96 distilleries, producing upwards of 800,000 gallons a year. From an accounting perspective, this growth is likely to be driven by the perceived demand and profitability of tequila distilling at that time. Prohibition, later, increased the price of alcohol (and associated profitability) and created a new international smuggling enterprise along the US-Mexican border.
After Prohibition and the Second World War, Tequila sales to the US grew. In 1943, La Prensa reported that as much as $250,000 worth of tequila was being imported into the United States per month. In 1944 taxes on tequila and vodka imports were reduced
by 5 percent, which cut costs from $4.99 per fifth to $4.45 per fifth. Lower prices and new demand subsequently led to the first tequila “boom” : between 1940 and
1945, the production of tequila increased nearly 400 percent. Making
the most of these circumstances, Mexican distillers increased production in
order to quench the thirst of American consumers and benefited from increased sales and profits. Brands such as Jose Cuervo capitalized on the mounting interest and started to invest heavily in magazine and newspaper ads. By the mid-1950s, US-based distributors were spending upwards of $100,000 to promote the “Mexican beverage in cocktails and mixed drinks”.
And, of course, the story continued as tequila became the internationally known drink it is today