Mezcaleria QuiQuiriQui


Features, Review | by — November 22, 2012

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by Rebecca Biscuit

‘Oh God!’ I hear you cry.  ‘What’s this?? Another mezcal bar in London? We are being over-run!’.  I literally haven’t had a beer in hours, possibly because there’s no beer in London any more. Because of all the mezcal.

The mezcaleria craze sweeping Berlin and NYC has finally swept across London. When I say ‘swept’, I mean very specifically landed, in about two bars. One is a Wahaca, that chain the posh woman off of Masterchef owns, and the other is Mezcaleria QuiQuiriQui, where Mezcal reached Loose Lips’ attention. With some very willing friends, I headed down to 184 Hackney Road on Thursday night to check it out.

Mezcal is a Mexican spirit, produced – similar to Tequila – with the heart (piña) of an agave plant. Mezcal can be made with any kind of agave plant, whereas the production of Tequila is restricted to the blue agave, which the owners of QuiQuiriQui believe gives their favourite spirit a unique variety due to the different plants available and the smaller, more specific artisan brewers. The smoky flavour of mezcal – as demonstrated by our chosen taster of ‘Sombra,’, made from the agave Espasdin – is achieved through pit-firing the plant before distillation. Sombra’s tasting notes included ‘BBQ sauce with a hint of lighterfluid’ – which more accurately describes Roman Road Dominoes takeaway than the complex drink presented to us. The smokiness means the mezcal is reminiscent of an Islay scotch, and the bar owners Melanie and Jenny make a good case for mezcal as a spirit to be savoured.

The mezcal also works well in their version of a frozen margarita, the Mezcal Missionary, bringing a nice balanced sweetness to the sour lime. Other drinks on offer include the Blond Negroni cocktail – a mix of soda, Campari and mescal. Should be re-named Bland Negroni. I don’t get this Venetian apertif in any of its forms. Camapri can vaffunculo! Far from bland is the beer/lime/tabasco combo which we happily knocked back.

The bar itself is hidden off Hackney Road, behind a blank door, down some egg-box covered stairs, kind of near Mecca Bingo. We all know where Mecca Bingo is, right? The room is about 4 metres across and decorated with a mix of crates, Mexican soft porno, and blackboard paint. It’s pretty Hackney. The two owners are what I assume to be ex-models or some kind of hot stork/human hybrid, who, from what I could hear over the music, went to Mexico for four months and came back and decided to open this bar. However that works. Of the décor, my friend Tom said ‘I’ve seen better rendering’, which I think means we belonged more at the Bingo place. Also very Bingo of us was our attitude to the music TOO LOUD! WHAT? IT’S TOO.LOUD! WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU. Though it was an interesting combination of Mexican pop and 80’s cheese, which then turned into an excellent mix of Stones and Blondie when the juke box was turned on.

In summary, it’s a nice little bar with uncomfortable seats and they’ve done something interesting with their Mexican inspiration rather than a Day-of-The-Dead-and-nachos thing. It’s not cheap, however, and I don’t know how many people out there will be geeky/interested enough to fork out £110 for a bottle of Maguey Pechuga Mezcal. Come for the curiosity, stay for the soft porn. Leave for the Bingo.

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