Camarena hit the streets of Chicago this July.

Photo: Camarena via Facebook

When I hear the words "tequila promotion," I usually think of club events where tanning bed-tanned college girls in short shorts hand out free t-shirts to men who call each other bro. Cliche, I know, but that’s often how it works.

Camarena tequila is taking a different tactic, one that makes use of the country’s current street-food obsession. The company has been partnering with chefs from urban markets around the United States to hand out free food from custom taco trucks.

For the Seattle leg of the tour, Camarena is working with Yajaira Carreon, chef at Coa in Maple Leaf. Carreon has come up with four types of taco to serve out of the truck: skirt steak, nopales (cactus leaves), chicken, and pork. There’s also flan for dessert. Each dish is infused with the sponsoring tequila, naturally.

I asked Kurt Dammeier, owner of the Maximus Minimus barbecue truck (who happens to be looking for a permanent home for the operation), if he thought such promotions harm street food businesses trying to make a living off of selling food. Dammeier said he thinks stunts like this are more about social media—and raising a brand profile by doing something interesting—than about encroaching on local businesses. "A tequila bottle by itself isn’t very interesting," he pointed out. And because liquor companies enjoy such a high profit margin, they can afford to splurge on indulgent marketing campaigns to raise brand awareness.

Speaking of awareness, Dammeier says that Camarena could be indirectly helping local curb cuisine by introducing newbies to the concept of street eating. "I’m always a believer that a rising tide floats all boats," he said.

The truck hits town Thursday and will stick around for a month, but its public debut happens this Saturday, August 20 at the Seattle Cigar Expo. You can check out future stops on Camarena’s Facebook page.

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