For more than two decades, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Taylor Steele has been teaming the thrill of surfing with the music of Southern California. The San Diego native began his film career in the early ’90s, capturing greats like Kelly Slater, Shane Dorian and Rob Machado as they turned the sea’s swells into a profession, all set to the soundtrack of then-rising stars Blink-182, Jack Johnson and Pennywise. “For me, as a surfer, the best times in my life have been those peaceful moments in between the waves when I’m waiting. I’ve lived in a lot of different places, from big cities like New York to islands like Bali, and what I’ve found is that people aren’t that different. They may have a pace of life or environment or different connection to the local world, but ultimately what they all really want is to be more present in the moment, to slow it down and enjoy it,” says Steele. It was with that laid-back approach that Steele created Solento Organic Tequila. “Life is so fast, and there is an inherent need to decompress, step away and be present, and, most importantly, to share and savor those moments. That is Solento.”
Solento’s chic bottles
Available in three varieties—blanco, reposado and añejo—the spirit is grown, harvested and distilled in Jalisco, Mexico. “Our tequila is made from USDA-certified organic agave from a single estate. Our team on the ground is extremely passionate about the agave and tequila,” he says. “Seeing the sustainable practices and quality-over-quantity model they abide by makes me really proud to sip and share the range.”
The look of the brand’s bottles was an equally important part of the creative process. “Our art director, Javas Lehn, is fantastic. We came together at the beginning of the process, and we wanted to create something really unique in the tequila space. Much of the branding was designed around the name Solento, meaning slow sun, which is what inspired the overall brand story,” shares Steele. “The bottle design celebrates the idea of the sun’s rays, and the ribs that curve in soft wave motions give the bottle a unique look and feel. We also wanted the bottle to feel new but have a classic tone, with the idea that it would sit nicely on a minibar at home.” The bottles have also found a welcome resting place at restaurants and bars across San Diego County, including Serẽa at the Hotel Del Coronado, Whisknladle in La Jolla, Zel’s Del Mar, Barrio Star in Bankers Hill and ALCE 101 in Solana Beach.
A pour of Solento Organic Blanco Tequila, which won double gold at Orange County’s 2019 SIP Awards and silver at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
As for how to best enjoy the spirit, Steele advises trying the blanco or reposado varieties over ice with a twist of lemon. “Our añejo, which is aged for 18 months in American oak whiskey barrels, is best enjoyed neat on its own,” he says. “If I could recommend a food pairing, try halibut ceviche with Solento blanco. It’s definitely a new favorite of mine.”
At the end of the day, it’s the slow sipping experience that excites Steele most. “Our appeal lies in the emotional element of Solento—being present in the moment, having a conversation with a friend, unwinding at the end of the day, enjoying a beautiful sunset and spending time with loved ones.” Now, that’s something to toast to.
Photography by: Taylor Steele photo by Ben Aslop; Bottle photos by Prescott Horn