Home' Bars and Clubs : BAC MarApl 2016 Contents Agave
As the rise of tequila and mezcal continues, it's time to move beyond shots and really consider how you can
get agave spirits working for you and doing some heavy li ing on your cocktail list.
While it helps to be a specialty bar,
like Tio's Ceverceria in Sydney's
Surry Hills, according to general
manager Alex "Happy" Gilmour, there is plenty
of fun to be had regardless.
"People look at vodka and think easy, and
look at tequila and mezcal and get scared," he
says. "It has as much versatility as vodka, but
the difference between the vodka and tequila
is that the vodka will taste like something else,
whereas the tequila pairs with a taste."
He goes on to explain that mixing tequila
means using the acidities and the citrus notes
-- especially with a blanco tequila -- and either
complementing it with more citrus or pairing
it with something completely different like
coffee, roast chocolate, or almonds.
Ben Marshall, who works for island2island
(distributors of Jose Cuervo and 1800 tequilas)
and tends bar at Sydney's Ramblin' Rascal
Tavern, says that the robust flavours of tequila
offer a unique end result in cocktail creation.
"It has the ability to replicate a white spirit
which is delicate and light, as well as the
darker spirits which are full-bodied and oaky."
And as Octavio Gomez-Haro, co-owner
La Cantina, points out, while the spirits have
complex tasting notes, they don't lack mixability.
"You can find sweet notes, spicy notes,
earthiness, smokiness -- so if you go for citrus
base or a fruit or vegetable notes, the flavour of
each of those will change a lot," he says. "It gives
bartenders an opportunity to be more creative
and make drinks that taste very different."
BEETROOT, CARROTS AND KIWI. NO, REALLY.
While plenty of flavours work well with tequila and mezcal, the classics are classics for a reason, and
a great place to start when building a cocktail list.
"Traditional flavours that work well are grapefruit, citrus in general, chilli, hibiscus and rose petal,"
Citrus is a pretty big focus in Mexico, just look at their national cuisine.
"I think straight away if you focus on the classics, so margaritas with lime, which has a lot to do
with Mexico, because in Mexico we put lime into pretty much everything," says Gomez-Haro.
But it also doesn't have to be boring. At Tio's, Gilmour says that their cocktail list has a focus on
fresh fruit, but with a "stylised Mexican angle" to keep on theme.
"So we're using a hibiscus syrup for our mezcal sours, because instead of putting sugar syrup in it
and it coming out looking like any other sour, it comes out bright pink," he says. "The mezcal that we
use is also not super smoky, it has a taste of the smoke coming through but it doesn't have the kick
to it. We use it because of price point but also because it is entry level mezcal to showcase to people
that there is something different."
But for those looking outside the box, there are plenty of other flavours to be played with in the
spectrum of different tequilas and mezcals.
"Some of the more off-beat flavours are ginger and watermelon. Anything really, just be creative,"
says Marshall. "Just be careful not to lose the flavour of the tequila in the drink -- it's a delicate spirit."
Gilmour stresses how important it is to use fresh produce -- but make a syrup, make a shrub, make
something that will preserve the flavours for a bit longer and allow your venue to really punch out
drinks with ease.
"We're using strawberries and rosemary in our Matalan Swizzle right now, and it kind of stands
up in its own regard but does freak people out if they have never had it before," he says. "Kiwi goes
with any spirit that has vegetal notes. It really balances it out -- so you can pair it with orange juice
for the touch of citrus, then with the tequila use a touch of Averna. It is a very easy cocktail to make
step by step and to tailor for your venue style."
Gomez-Haro points out that even in Mexico, bars are focussing on the potential of earthy flavours.
"More recently in the latest wave in Mexico when bartenders are mixing they try to keep it really
earthy -- so beetroot works really well and then you can even stretch to flavours like carrot, especially
in winter when you might use a reposado or anejo tequila or, in mezcal, a pechuga."
TEQUILA & MEZCAL
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