Enter through a small shabby door off Hackney Road, tread with care down a dim narrow passageway of stairs and you find yourself in an underground den where the decor is shabby kitsch with juke box and giant balloon lights, and the offering is Mezcal. This smokey spirit comes from Mexico and Tequila, that eye-watering shot found in bars across the land, is actually a variety of mezcal. The name mezcal roughly translates as ‘oven-cooked agave‘ thus the fact that the drink is made from the Mexican Agave plant will come as no surprise.
Background check over, back to the deliciously dingy mezcal cavern in Hoxton. My cousin took me after work one day and we were seriously early birds, thus we were the only consumers and got the barman all to ourselves, inside knowledge and all! For a novice mezcal drinker, the menu was quite overwhelming as a range of twenty + sipping glasses were on offer. Though to my aid there were detailed descriptions of the distinct flavours of each, allowing me to find something that tickled my fancy. Although the same umbrella drink with a general smokey flavour, the taste and texture between varieties can be drastic… and so can the prices!!
I selected one that did not seem too intense for a first-timer and our barman friend served it up in the traditional way with two orange slices, some chilli powder, and worm..
Yes, that’s correct, worm powder! When I asked what it was made of, our friend put it very bluntly as ‘crushed up worm’ (derrrr!?!). Apparently this is the way to drink it according to Mexican tradition where it is served with a side plate of fried larvae that live on the Agave plant.
So swap the lemon for some orange, keep the salt but add some chilli and worm, and there you have a real Mexican upgrade on Tequila.. Not for the squeamish!
‘Arriba, abajo, al centro, y par dentro‘ .. Cheers!