In the premiere episode of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” Lisa Barlow dismissed any concerns the viewer might have about the tension between being an active Mormon and owning a liquor company, Vida Tequila. “I’m sure other Mormons care that I own a tequila company,” Barlow said, adding cheekily, “what’s important is that I don’t.”
It was a perfect reality TV bon mot, but underlying it was a look into Barlow’s particular approach to her religion, which she refers to as Mormon 2.0. “I’m a convert to the LDS church, and it’s very special to me,” Barlow says. Her family, who was Jewish but not religious, joined the Mormon church after missionaries knocked on their door in New York where, as Barlow puts it, “There’s, like, no Mormons — so it’s an eclectic group of people. Our meeting house was a Masonic temple.”
Moving to Utah was an eye-opener for Barlow, who quickly realized that her relationship to her religion was very different from those in her new community. “I didn’t realize how different I was from people that were born and raised here. I think they conflate the culture with the teachings, and that’s never been an issue for me.” When it came to starting a liquor brand, which she and her husband, John, did when they got into the tequila business in 2002, Barlow says, “I never feel like God is judging me. I feel like God loves me and made me be for a reason. And if he’s bringing me these opportunities, it’s for a reason to lead me to where I am today.”
With “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” now back for its second season, we asked the real housewife for her essential barware picks, her favorite mixers and her preferred way to drink tequila.
Tinana Ice Ball Maker ($10.99; amazon.com)
“Ice can change a drink,” Barlow says, and not just for its cooling properties alone. “The aesthetic of the ice can enhance the drink.” This silicone ice ball maker turns out perfect 2.5-inch spheres of ice, perfect for using in a lowball glass when preparing a cocktail like an Old-Fashioned, which you may be surprised can be made with tequila. “There is no better Old-Fashioned than a Vida Añejo Old-Fashioned. Anything you can do with whiskey you can do with añejo,” Barlow says.
W&P Craft Cocktail Syrup Set ($34.01; amazon.com)
“If you love a good cocktail but don’t have the skills, these premade cocktail mixers pair nicely with Vida,” Barlow says. She recommends Vida Reposado for use with the Moscow mule mixer to create a Mexican mule, and Vida Blanco to elevate a spicy margarita. “The best part is that you can adjust the recipe to your liking,” she says.
Bundaberg Ginger Beer ($18.99; amazon.com)
If you’re a skilled home bartender looking to try your hand at a Mexican mule, Barlow recommends using Bundaberg Ginger Beer for the drink. “I like to be creative when making cocktails, but I think a mule should always be made with our reposado,” Barlow says.
Check out some amazing mocktail recipes here.
Riedel Bar Ouverture Tequila Glasses, 2-Pack ($33; amazon.com)
This Riedel glassware is Barlow’s go-to for drinking Vida neat or on the rocks because, she says, “It really brings out the beautiful notes and rich agave tones of the tequila.” She typically skips the cubes when it comes to her tequila. “I’m a neat girl,” she says, “like, I love all three of our styles neat. It’s a luxury product, so I think it’s beautiful to sip.”
Barillio Elite Cocktail Shaker Set ($19.97, originally $29.99; amazon.com)
Barlow calls this “the perfect bar kit — its chic, minimalistic style is perfect for cocktail making.” Barlow offers this tip for those who like to experiment with making cocktails: “I always tell people, don’t look at the category, look at the flavor profiles of the spirits you’re drinking.”
Riedel Highball Glasses, 2-Pack ($32.94; amazon.com)
One cocktail Barlow suggests making with Vida Blanco is a paloma, which is typically served in a highball glass. “With Vida Blanco,” Barlow says, “you’re going to get all those natural, beautiful citrus undertones and that beautiful burst of agave. And what goes well with citrus? I love making a paloma.”
Riedel O Wine Whiskey Tumblers, Set of 2 ($21.25; amazon.com)
Vida has three different styles of tequila, blanco, añejo and reposado, which should be enjoyed differently from one another. “With our reposado,” Barlow says, “I tend to treat it more like a bourbon because it’s aged in American white oak. You’re going to get some of that jalapeño tingle as you’re sipping it.”
Drizom Citrus Lemon Orange Juicer Manual ($16.99; amazon.com)
“My husband’s always like, ‘Don’t tell people how to drink tequila; let them do it on their own,’” Barlow says with a laugh. Although she tends to sip tequila neat, she does have one go-to cocktail that she calls The 80, which consists of soda water, Vida Blanco and fresh squeezed lime juice. But not just any fresh squeezed lime juice! There is a secret to making The 80 a standout cocktail, which Barlow shares with us: “I pre-squeeze all my lime juice and I let it sit for a minimum of three hours in the fridge. I think it makes a much better cocktail.”