Mescal is a unique adult beverage I occasionally enjoy. I like it served chilled and neat (meaning no mixers or ice). Mescal is in the same beverage family as tequila, but is made with different types of agave plants; tequila is made only with blue agave plants that grow in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. But there is more.


Tequila is made by removing the heart of the agave plant (the pina), cooking it for hours in an oven, after which the juice is squeezed out and distilled. On the other hand, Mescal is made by cooking the pina for many days in a deep volcano rock-lined ten-foot pit with a fire underneath. Agave leaves are piled on top, giving the final beverage a distinctively smoky taste.


The tradename of my favorite Mescal is Sombra, Spanish for “Shadow.” It was advertised as the smokiest tasting premium Mescal available on the planet. And, it lives up to its promise. When I have friends try it, they say, “Wow, this is seriously smokey.” If you could bottle a shadow, this is how it would taste. Dom Perignon, who discovered champagne, told his friends, “I am tasting the stars.” It all got me thinking about the promises we imply to those we serve and the visions that must dance in our customers’ heads.


I was thrilled when my favorite grocery chain announced they were requiring face coverings to enter the store. Sure enough, my next trip to the grocery store, the front door had a large reminder sign that read, “Face Masks Up!” When I complimented the check-out clerk on the company’s decision, she quickly said, “But, we are not allowed to say anything to our customers if they do not wear a face covering.” A wonderful promise not treated as sacred made their promise seem hollow and superficial. Contrast that with the Ritz-Carlton.


Ritz-Carlton Hotels promises a “warm, relaxed, yet refined ambiance.” You will hear associates say, “my pleasure,” never “no problem” when thanked. You will see lobby flowers that look like they came from the jungle, not the local florist. You are more likely to hear Mozart or Chopin playing the background, never Keith Urban or Carrie Underwood. The soap in your guest room smells as first-class as the sheets feel. Everyone greets you like you are the hotel’s only guest. Their promise is not just directly kept; it is indirectly kept. It is implemented with comprehensive, wall-to-wall depth.


When a promise is treated by all as a sacred oath, it engenders trust, not just pleasure. Sacredly kept promises signal respect and commitment; and, they produce deep loyalty. Make your customer promises as genuine, accurate, and solid as Sombra is smoky.