A Toast to Tequila

A Celebration of Hispanic Culture and Latina Leadership

Article by Sue Baldani

Photography by Thomas Hall/Brandon Cummins and Provided

Originally published in Topeka City Lifestyle

After a 10 year hiatus, the much anticipated Suave Agave is back at Townsite Tower Ballroom on October 21st. For participants, it’s a night of great fun that includes tequila tasting, a tequila infused four-course dinner (prepared by Chef Guillermo Rivera), silent and live auctions, and music. Even more important, it’s an opportunity to support young ladies with their educational pursuits.

Suave Agave is a major fundraiser for MANA de Topeka, whose mission is “to create a better quality of life for all Hispanics and the Topeka community through Latina Leadership.”

“I think there’s always a need for scholarships,” says event chairperson, Debbie Davis. “These scholarships provide another avenue for Latina girls looking for help with going to college. This event helps us continue to support Latina Leadership through education and opportunity.”

Adds Veronica Padilla, the co-chair of MANA de Topeka, “MANA is part of a national organization and we've decided that getting our young ladies educated and having them think beyond high school is important. And, when we say educated, we don't mean just college. They can decide to enrich their lives by going to Washburn Tech or trade school.” The scholarships can help with tuition as well as other needs such as supplies and books.

These scholarships may also be used to assist in other ways. “We may run into some situations where we may want to give a non-traditional scholarship later on in the year for someone that just really needs some help getting to her goal,” says Veronica.

The number of scholarships will be dependent upon the success of the event, but they would like to give out no less than five. “We are setting up for 300 guests and hoping we can get to that number,” says Debbie. “That’s our goal.”

During the event, there will be a silent auction where guests can bid for unique wooden wine boxes that may be filled with wine, gift cards, money and/or other great items. “The boxes are gorgeous and are like pieces of art in themselves,” says Veronica. 

“We're hoping to get a couple of art pieces too,” says Debbie. “In the past, we've had decorated dishes, vases, and sun-inspired art pieces.” The MANA logo resembles a sun rising.

Brandon Cummins, the director of education for Altamar Brands, LLC, will be hosting the tequila tasting. “Obviously, it’s a fantastic adult beverage, but the level of complexities it presents – nuances of flavor all based upon where the agave was grown, how it is prepared, cooked, crushed, fermented, distilled and then aged all play a massive role in the final product profile,” he says. “Not to mention, many of these producers have generational knowledge, and the art of making great agave spirits is very much culture in a bottle.”

Guests will learn how to buy a great tequila too. “I always mention looking for 100% agave, traditionally made, and additive free options, but the most important aspect is to ‘drink what you like, BUT know what you’re drinking.’ I also strongly advocate downloading the Tequila Matchmaker app – it’s a great free resource that helps catalog production methods, flavor profiles, and helps designate if a tequila is ‘Confirmed Additive Free.’”

John Dicus, CEO of Capitol Federal, will be speaking about his experiences with tequila as well. “He has become a local aficionado and has tastings also, so he is very knowledgeable,” says Veronica.

For Debbie and Veronica, being a part of this event is a lot of fun. “It’s also a great way to build camaraderie with each other and with the community,” says Debbie. “It's a great feeling.” 

“It’s an even greater feeling when we fill the room,” says Veronica.

To find out more and buy tickets, go to

The evening will include:

    • Learning the Art of Tasting Tequila
    • Silent and Live Art Auction
    • A Tequila Infused Four-Course Dinner
    • A Suave Agave shot glass
    • Music and Entertainment

Become a sponsor. This event is possible because of organizations like yours that believe in higher education and the value of the Latino culture to business and community.

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