Tequila, it makes you happy? Not really - if like me and 99.7% of the UK population, your only tequila experiences are the usual cheap shots on a night out/lime/salt/floor; then no, tequila does not make me, you or anyone, bar cleaning product manufacturers, happy.
The Liquorists, Manchester self-styled sauce specialists do not agree with my above statement/experinces; they believe that tequila can be as good a sipping drink as a first rate scotch and as sophisticated as a high-end vodka. I did not believe them when they started spouting this poppycock - that was until I joined them for their latest spirit session, The Tequila Trail.
Starting at 22 Redbank, The Liquorists' now not so secret headquarter, Tom and Jody welcomed us warmly and in true Liquorists style, started handing out the first drinks along with a bucket full of information on the world of REAL tequila (you can read some of the facts in another article I wrote HERE).
To start off the evening we were given a Jose Cuervo; but hang on! Stop pulling those faces from grim recollections of running to the club toilets - this was a Traditional ie the good version they've only just started shipping to the UK. Made from 100% blue agave (this is important in ALL tequilas, otherwise what you're drinking is basically some good tequila with a bunch of cheap spirit alcohol mixed in - so beware of labels with the word mixto on them) and rested from 3-12 months in wooden barrels; it was a softer, sweeter drink than I remembered any tequila being, with toffee and vanilla notes and it actually tasted alright (well, pretty damn good to be honest).
And to dispel then myths around margaritas (NOT frozen, NOT blended, NOT with salt all around the rim), Jody flexed his drinks mixing skills and served us all a bang on margarita alongside plenty of food to line our stomachs before the rest of the tequila hit it (VERY WISE) - oh and as this is a food blog I suppose you want to know what we ate? Crispy fish tacos with a rich/piquant lobster sauce, crispy nachos with lashings of guacamole/salsa/sour cream/cheese and charred, salty, delicious corn on the cob - arriba!!
The premise of a spirit trail is to not only show off the best examples of each spirit, but to introduce you to the best drinking dens that Manchester has to offer. The Tequila Trail was no different; we hopped from great bar to excellent bar, with reserved tables and drinks awaiting as we did. Where did we go?
1. 22 Redbank - you know the story.
2. Apotheca - atmospheric, moody and a veritable potion palace; here we sampled the beautifully toffee-ish vanilla sweetness of the Don Julio Reposado; the cocktail at Apotheca was an exact taste match of a solero, otherwise known as the mango/passion fruit margarita.
3. Socio Rehab - a sophisticated stalwart of the Northern Quarter cocktail scene; out came the peppery, green, agave tasting El Jimador Blanco (unaged, so no softening in wooden barrels) and a Palemro with Ting.
4. Hula - tiki time was replaced by tequila time as we sipped another blanco, the Plata Judura, this time brewed using natural yeasts from the air; again very fresh, but with a lot more coffee and vanilla notes mixed in with that peppery green industrialness. Our cocktail pairing was a Tommy's margarita - very famous apparently, but I still preferred Jody's one at 22 Redbank.
5. Last stop was at Northern Quarter newbie, Kosomonaut for the best tequila (in my eyes) of the night. The Tapiteo anejo is aged for over a year in wood - soft, silky, smooth with a spicy, muskiness reminiscent of a victorian dresser - The Liquorists are right, a great tequila can be a great sipper - I'd consider this over ice on a night out.
And with that we drifted off in to the night (or in my case the last train home) and yes, finally, the saying 'Tequila makes you happy' really did ring true.
The Liqourists spirit trails happen pretty often and range from about £30-40, which is bloody cheap if you consider you get five shots, five cocktails, five food pairings, reserved tables, history/information/geeky facts about the drinks AND a full meal. Couldn't replicate it anywhere other than Weatherspoons and the only facts you learn there is how many guys Sharon copped off with last Saturday and why Amy's got a bruise on her arse.
Booking is EASY - just click HERE and see what other wonderful trails The Liquorists have got to tantalise your tastebuds with.
The Liqourists, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter
Ps Photos soon, not got them here.
Pps I was comped this spirit trail, but I wasn't under any obligation to write anything nice about it - however I had a brilliant time and still think the trails are one of the best after-work activities you can get up to in Manchester AND for a very reasonable price too. Oh and Tom and Jody are lovely chaps too, so that makes it super good.