West Villagers showcase their own brand of tequila with a shot of fine art

“I could talk about tequila all day,” Kristopher DeSoto informs us and, after spending a few hours with him, we believe it. Desoto left a good gig selling helicopters to start Hiatus, his own brand of tequila that he claims is “the smoothest one out there.”

“Ours is a full agave experience,” he explains, referencing the plant (which, by the way, is not a cactus) that provides the raw material for the spirit. “Other tequilas can contain only 51% agave and still be called tequila,” he explains.

Not only that, but other manufacturers may “use sweeteners and glycerin to disguise the burn, but we have developed a special process to get rid of the bitterness.”

Having a product that you’re proud of is one thing, but creating an image for it is another, which is where a few good artists come in. Desoto’s life partner, the painter Suzanne Scott, serves as the creative director for the company.

“I got Kris more involved in the arts when the brand launched,” Scott explains. The pair began producing art events based around collaging, inviting artists to spend a few hours together creating work using some images of the Hiatus brand and whatever else they wanted, while consuming pizza, beverages and, of course, tequila.

Scott notes that the reason for the choice of collage as an activity was that “there’s a collage effect on the Hiatus bottle, which includes pics of the actual distillery in Mexico. It doesn’t take an incredible talent to do and it’s an escape like a hiatus is an escape. Also, I love collage!”

Joanne Acey recording her piece for posterity.Photo by Bob Krasner
Hiatus founder Kristopher DeSoto working on a collage, thinking about tequilaPhoto by Bob Krasner
If there were awards, Elisa Blynn would have won for most prolific collagistPhoto by Bob Krasner

This past Sunday, Jan. 16, was one of those days, as an invited group that was smaller than in previous events — due to COVID concerns — convened in a sadly defunct sports bar on West 14th Street, not far from DeSoto and Scott’s West Village residence. In contrast to its previous incarnation, the Offside Tavern was populated with artists instead of Islander fans, resulting in a quieter but no less enthusiastic group.

“When I walked in I thought, this is like a 70s art happening,” marveled the noted collage artist Marlene Weisman. “Everyone quickly settled in and got to work. Having to use the Hiatus brand elements gave structure to our improvising and everyone had a different approach. Seeing everyone so focused was kind of magical.”

“Our ethos as a brand is based around creatives,” says DeSoto. “We want to work with the next stars, the up and coming ones – like us. … We keep the collages, but if there is any commercial usage, proceeds will go back to the artist. The work will be seen on social media – Instagram, Facebook,etc. – and the artists will be credited and promoted. We want to support the arts; we’ve sent artists to do an art residency in France and paid for Shane Bullock to paint a mural on the The Springs bar in Greenpoint.”

While the artists worry about maintaining their integrity with their X-acto knives, scissors and glue, DeSoto holds up his end with the purity of his processes.

Hiatus on displayPhoto by Bob Krasner
Hiatus Creative Director Suzanne Scott standing with scissorsPhoto by Bob Krasner
The former site of the Offside Tavern morphed into an artists’ studio for the day.Photo by Bob Krasner

The maturity of the agave (a ten-year process), the way it’s baked, the critical distillation process and the lack of additional ingredients have produced an award-winning liquid. Wine Enthusiast gave it a 95 rating right out of the gate when they debuted in 2018 and they’ve been endorsed by Rolling Stone, Forbes and Esquire.

“It’s less expensive than many of the more well known high-end brands,” states DeSoto, “but it’s better. You can pay a ton for garbage.”

“Tequila can be beautiful,” proclaims DeSoto, “if you don’t screw it up!”

Hiatus can be sampled at the Analogue bar on West 8th St. and at Niagara in the East Village. Further info is available at hiatustequila.com and their Instagram is @hiatustequila.