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National Margarita Day comes to Wahaca

The humble Wahaca margarita, that exquisite double shot of 100% agave tequila, lime and organic agave syrup, now has a national day set aside so we can all take a moment to properly celebrate its greatness. The 22nd of February is officially National Margarita Day around the world, and we have some special plans for you to look out for at a few of our margarita loving hot spots.

In Wahaca Liverpool we’re hosting a National Margarita Appreciation week, with 4 nights of revelry. From Wednesday 22nd – Friday 24th February 2017, we’re giving free margaritas when you pop in to eat with us (and say the magic password), and our celebration culminates on Saturday 25th February, when Latin favourite DJ Muvelo will be spinning some tracks up in our rooftop bar. You can check out full details of how you can get involved over here.

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Meanwhile, in London’s Wahaca Canary Wharf, Charlotte Street and Soho Bars and Restaurants (as well as up in Liverpool), we will be serving an exclusive, extra special Patron margarita, made with Patron silver, a smooth, buttery and lightly spiced super-premium tequila, served chilled and bottled. It’s available for a limited run from Tuesday 23rd to Sunday 26th of February.

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Don’t forget to tell us your Margarita tales using the hashtag #NationalMargaritaDay and salud compadres!

Agave lover? Don't miss the tequila and mezcal fest

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Agave lover? Don’t miss the tequila and mezcal fest

Raise a toast to Mexico’s much loved (and often misunderstood) liquid export as Tequila & Mezcal Fest makes a triumphant return on 17th and 18th September 2016 for a third consecutive year, and is The UK’s first ever and only festival dedicated exclusively to showcasing the very best bits of Mexico in what continues to be the greatest ever agave extravaganza.

Sample Mexico’s finest tequilas and mezcales with the country’s best agave ambassadors, talk to producers and get first hand knowledge of this drink of the gods. Explore the best of Mexican culture and pop by our little brother’s DF/Mexico to sample some simply delicious tacos. A day out not to be missed for Mexico and agave lovers.

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To get your tickets click here.

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Meet Jon Anders, mezcal & tequila prophet

Meet Jon, originally from Norway, and working for Amathus, one of our great suppliers, he is probably one of the world’s most passionate tequila and mezcal prophets. And if you have been lucky enough to see him give a masterclass (at the Amathus stores, at Wahaca bars, or as part of bar training) you will know exactly what we mean, We caught up with him to ask how can a Norwegian guy be so Mexican?

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How did your passion for mezcal begin?

I guess it started when I first lived with Mexicans, they had a flair for living and for parties, and with parities came drinks, and part of that was drinking Tequila. I guess you can say it all started with drinking Tequila.

There was mezcal back then but mostly industrial mezcal with worms, I did not know it as industrial mezcal then, it was just mezcal but I did not like it, sure it was a little exiting with the gusano (caterpillar) in the bottle but the taste was like industrial tequila on steroids, pure petrol and even with the added caramel and sweetness it was still not pleasant.

Now mezcal seems to be so much in fashion, even Mick Jagger told the crowd in Mexico City recently that he now drinks mezcal, how did things change?

When looking back I can’t imagine the mezcal category would have been where it is now, if this had been only type of mezcal on the market, it all changed with Ron Coopers Del Maguey and his work with the village palenqueros (producers, distillers and farmers).

What they together produced was revolutionary, the palenqueros Faustino, Don Lencho, Paciano, Espiridion and El Rey made the juice, Ron the bottles and the labels and what a winning combination, here was this product, this mezcal that was high in abv (alcohol by volume) that was unadulterated, free from chemicals, free from additional sweetener, that was pre-organic, pre-biodynamic, made in a way that was unchanged for generations, in small villages by one family, that was in essence just the pure juice from the agave. How can you not love this.

For me defining moment was going to Oaxaca, I had been to Jalisco on numerous occasions, visiting tequila distilleries in both Tequila and Arandas, but seeing the first palenque was like going to another planet, sure I had seen photos and heard the stories but to see one up close was insane.

What was the distillery like?

There is a big hole in the ground where the agaves are earth roasted and a round stone basin, where a round millstone is standing, it has a horse harness attached, so the millstone can be pulled around by a horse or a mule, crushing the halved cut cooked agaves into fibres, no modern equipment, no electricity, they use wood to heat the still up and for heating up the stones in the bottom of the cooking pit.

In the tick of the action there is one guy and his family, they run the whole operation, they do everything, plant and harvest the agave. They cook, crush, ferment and distil them self, with very little outside help. For this family to make one batch of mezcal can take them anywhere from a month to two months depended if you harvest wild or planted agaves.

It’s all hand made in it truest form.

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How was your interaction with the mezcal makers?

You are then invited for lunch, expertly cooked by the women, cooking downwards by hand over open fire, in some cases the day before you arrive. You sit on the best table, surrounded by the family and eating some of the best food you will ever eat, drinking mezcal straight from the still, feeling close to nirvana, wishing they could serve something else than coca cola…..

You leaving with a family richer, wishing to come back soon, you sit in the car thinking to yourself how unique this experience was, almost like traveling back in time, thinking this must be a special one and the only one left, but as you travel around and visiting other palenques you start realise they all are like this, the country side is littered with small palenques like that, sure not all of them are like this, some will have concrete floor, a corrugated metal roof and a few wall, but they all have the same layout, using the same process. Some of this mezcal producing families are indigenous to the region, they are either Zapotec, Mixtec or Mixe (and others, 30% of all the indigenous people in México lives in the state of Oaxaca)

And last but not least as it’s the Year of the Taco, what is your favourite taco ever?

There used to be this taco stand next to the big square in Arandas, called Tacos Machete which did this amazing tacos al carbon (grilled), bistek, pollo and so on…. they also did the fresh nopal pads with melted cheese that was delicious.

 

You can catch Jon at a Wahaca Bar near you very soon for some very special masterclasses, keep an eye on our blog for more info.

 

 

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Come and salsa with us at Wahaca Brixton’s birthday fiesta

Our funky Brixton restaurant is UNO this Friday, one year old that’s right… So put on your dancing shoes, and join us this Friday 16th of October.

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Come grab some food and stay to enjoy DJ Marcello aka Salsa Fresca, who from 8pm until 2am, will be keeping the party going with the best Latin and party tunes this side of the river. #WahacaMusic

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Tequila Fest lands in London

If you’re a fan of all things agave, then here’s an event not to miss. On 22nd and 23rd November, The Tequila & Mezcal Fest will be bringing the finest Mexican agave spirits to the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel.

The Tequila & Mezcal Fest has been created by our friend and agave spirit aficionado, Eduardo Gomez, to educate you in the customs of production and consumption and engulf you in the taste, smells, sounds and sights of true Mexico.

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Expect cocktail master classes, with the tequila world’s most knowledgeable, who will be exchanging their wealth of knowledge in the heart of the festival.  Learn how to differentiate between the Blanco, Reposado and Anejo categories sipping your way through blind tastings. Salt and lime will be banned at the door along with novelty sombreros; this will be a sipping only zone.

Tequila & Mezcal Fest is the UK’s first ever and only festival dedicated exclusively to showcasing the best of the agave spirits, so don’t miss it. You can grab tickets at www.tequilafest.co.uk

Wahaca presents Day of the Dead at the Old Vic Tunnels

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Wahaca presents Day of the Dead at the Old Vic Tunnels

=== JOIN US FOR 2014’s DAY OF THE DEAD CELEBRATIONS IN BRIXTON ====

Lots of you will know we’ve been celebrating Day of the Dead in our restaurants since we opened. We love this amazingly emotive and visual festival celebrating the lives of relatives and friends who are no longer around and thought that it was right to make the party bigger. Much, much bigger. So we’re putting on a 4 day festival from 31st October – 3rd November. Together with our friends at The Old Vic Tunnels and with support from The Embassy of Mexico in the UK and Nomad, we’re taking over a maze of railway vaults hidden underneath Waterloo Station and creating a celebration of music, food and art. This year’s Wilderness Festival headliners, Rodrigo y Gabriella will be kicking off their European tour with these 4 nights, blasting out some phenomenal new tracks alongside work by a host of acclaimed artists from Gabriella Iturbide, to Le Gun and Hew Locke. There’s going to be a live score composed by the Cabinet of Living Cinema to run alongside Alejandro Jodorowsky’s classic film Santa Sangre, just waiting to be discovered too.

Rodrigo y Gabriella are starting their European tour with us for Day of the Dead

There will be food on offer from a specially constructed Wahaca Street Kitchen serving up mouth-watering pork pibil and seasonal veg tacos and there will be drink courtesy of award-winning tequila Olmeca Altos, all fuelling what promises to be a series of unforgettable nights. Exploring the tunnels further you’ll find other stages playing host to more music and performance including a set from London based bands ‘Vado in Messico’ and ‘Keston Cobblers Club’ and a show from visual artists Frida Alvinzi and Raisa Veikkola’s ‘Theatre of Dolls’, an other-worldly visual experience using 4-dimensional art pieces, puppets as storytellers and their own bodies as sculptural landscapes. You might also stumble across a new collection of Nancy Fouts’ three-dimensional works that she’s created especially for the Day of the Dead Festival that poke fun at the contemporary western concept of death. Communion DJs will be adding to the soundtrack of the night. You can buy tickets now from oldvictunnels.com or by calling the box office on 0844 871 7628. Tickets include wahaca food from our festival’s temporary street kitchen as well as entry to the funtimes which run from 7pm – 1am each night. All profits from the event will be going to charity. Saturday daytime entrance at £5 (2pm – 6pm) offers an opportunity to view the exciting visual artists on show and enjoy screenings of the Alejandro Jodorowsky classic film Santa Sangre with The Cabinet of Living Cinema performing a matinee live score. We’ll look forward to seeing you down there.

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Tequila tasting at Wahaca Soho

On Wednesday night we hosted the second of our tequila tastings in Soho, with the aim of selecting a new range of special guest tequilas to put on our bar list over the next year.

Since opening Wahaca, we knew we had a job to do when it came to tequila in the UK. It is such a misunderstood drink here, and there’s good reason for that – The prominence of low quality tequilas that leave you with a burning throat and a lingering feeling of regret has done huge damage to its reputation as a quality spirit. So we pledged to only stock tequilas that were of superior quality, 100% agave, and that had passed our own taste test. Move forward 4 years and we’ve got a list of tequilas that we’re really happy with, and we are developing this pledge further. We have been working with the Mexican Tequila Board to search out tequilas that are not available outside of North America. Tequilas that have been made with quality in mind, rather than mass production. The kind of tequilas that are sipped by those that really know what they are talking about. Our aim is to not only be able to offer these tequilas to you, but also to give these smaller suppliers the opportunity to give their products international recognition for the first time.

The Mexican Tequila Board very kindly sent us an early Christmas present of around 35 bottles of just such tequilas. None of which are available outside Mexico, none of which we had tasted before, and all of which sounded like they would be welcome additions to our bar list. But we don’t want to just add any product to our list, so they needed tasting. You don’t get this opportunity every day, so we thought that we’d share them around with our most deserving friends. 

We invited our facebook fans to write in and tell us why they should be chosen to join us and we had a great response. We narrowed the field down and selected our panel of experts, who would be lending us their taste buds for the evening.

The evening was masterfully compered by Henry Besant, of the World Wide Cocktail Club, and who is about the most knowledgeable tequila aficionado in the country. He introduced us to a mixed selection of 9 tequilas that he had picked from our consignment and we diligently set to work tasting.

We ended the night having sniffed, slurped and swilled our way through 3 blancos, 3 reposados, 2 añejos and 1 extra añejo. There was debate, an exchange of words such as vegetal, herbal, woody and even bacon, and a pleasant feeling of having been involved in something that signified another small step in the right direction for tequila in the UK. Our voting system led to 4 winners, but there was a general consensus that in fact 3 of these had something extra special which made them stand out: A blanco named Tequila Gran Orendain, an Añejo named La Fortaleza (or Los Abuelos) and an Extra Añejo named Tequila Campo Azul.

Now, we should say here that the funny thing about tasting tequilas that you’ve never heard of before and which aren’t available outside of Mexico, is that occasionally you realise why that’s the case!  We did taste some slight duds on the night, especially in the Reposado category. We happily supplemented them with a comparative tasting of our current house pour, El Tesoro Reposado, and were all agreed that there wasn’t any need to force the issue, none of the Reposados could measure up on the night, so they’d stay in Mexico for the time being.

Thank you so much to Kate, Ed, James, Yashoda, Jesús and Paul for responding to our request and coming along and lending us their taste buds and opinions. Thanks also to the Mexican Tequila Board for supplying us with tequilas that wowed, challenged, delighted and surprised us in near equal measure. And finally thank you to Henry for leading the way once more.

You will be able to see the final results from all of our tastings up on our blog soon, and most importantly taste them for yourself as they each take up their monthly guest spots over the coming year. We really hope you’ll enjoy our choices.  If you have any thoughts on our tequila list, or general musing about this magical drink, please feel free to let us know in a comment below.

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Do you want to be on our tequila tasting panel?

ALL SPACES ON OUR TEQUILA TASTING PANEL ARE NOW TAKEN

Following a flurry of excitement amongst our facebook fans, we are now looking for an exclusive panel of 5 tequila experts from amongst you lot, the followers of our facebook, blog and twitter pages, to join us for a tequila tasting with a difference, to be held at Wahaca Soho on Wednesday 23rd February 2011 at 6.30pm.

Do you know your agave from your auto-clave, your piña from your pot still? What on earth would you do with a Tahona Stone?

If you would like to join this tasting, send an email to ola@wahaca.co.uk explaining in no more than 100 words why you are qualified to help us select the next top tequilas that will be featured on our bar list. The deadline for entries is the end of Monday 20th February, so get cracking.

On the night, we’ll taste a range of tequilas which have been sent to us by the Mexican Tequila Board that aren’t available outside of North America. They’ve kindly searched out 30 top quality tequilas from Mexico’s smaller distilleries just for us. It’s not just for fun though, at the end of the tasting, we’ll pick out 4 favourites, which will be appearing as guest tequilas in our bar over the next year. We’re hoping that by putting them on our list, we’ll help to introduce these brands to the international market, and their amazing products can start to be shared with the world.

The tasting will start at 6.30 with a cocktail to get us in the mood, then it’s down to the serious business of choosing our top tequilas. The tasting will be led by the all-knowing tequila aficionado Henry Besant, who will help guide us through a range of platas, reposados and añejos and will finish at about 8pm.

Don’t get confused, this is not the same event that is being organised by QYPE (That’s one’s going to be just as good though!) This one is just for all you Wahaca fans out there in the world-wide-webernet. (If you’re looking for the Qype event, head over to their page for details).

We’ll look forward to hearing why you think you’ve got what it takes to help choose our next favourite tequilas. Those still looking for a worm in the bottom of their bottle need not apply.

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Wahaca comes to Soho

It’s been quite a journey over the last 6 months turning 80 Wardour Street from a local boozer, into the 4th member of the Wahaca family. There’s been plenty of fun and games along the way, and we can hardly believe we’re saying it, but with a massive grin we’re happy to declare Wahaca Soho OPEN.

There have certainly been some highlights.

Since our first table went up in July we knew this place was going to be a bit special. Building site chic was never going to last though.

When we lost one of our pigs back in September, with a bit of help from our facebook fans, the lovely Catty found it sniffing out its new home! It was a total sty back then.

We soon realised that style is the name of the game in Soho. We thought that the new place would appreciate its own T-shirt, so its own T-shirt it would have. And not just any T-shirt, oh no, a competition winning T-shirt. We asked you lot to get to work and send us a design that brought to life the spirit of Wahaca. Over 50 local designers and Photoshop-savvy folk from around the country had a go, and it was no easy task selecting a winner. In the end we chose a design by Matt Burke, who is none-other than Head of Art, just down the road at Addiction London. They can now add the honour of Wahaca T-shirt designers to the growing list of accolades. Matt’s going to be a pretty regular feature in the new restaurant. His prize was a year’s worth of free food at 80 Wardour Street.

Artistic talent has been hanging around the site in hoards in the past few weeks, and to name just a few we were delighted to invite Remi/Rough in to graffiti the place.

Whilst Barton Hargreaves spent months circling Soho with his camera so he could build the montages which you’ll see climbing our bare-brick walls.

Jose was put to work constructing our foosball tables, which have already seen some seriously close-fought battles down in our tequila bar. Surely with 2 tables to practice on someone will be able to take on the mighty Hassan at Wahaca Canary Wharf.

Nate, a familiar face from Wahaca Covent Garden, has been hard at work with the new bar team – training them on the list of over 20 top class 100% agave tequilas and turning our basement into the best tequila bar in the town, and the perfect place to enjoy some of our new cocktails.

In fact, we’ve not made it easy on ourselves. From Wahaca’s very beginnings we wanted to minimise the impact we make on the environment and community around us. So throughout the build we have done everything possible to keep our waste levels down. In fact 90% of all rubbish generated from the building work has been recycled. You might notice that the wooden floors from the old Slug and Lettuce are now our ceiling, walls and bar (Don’t worry we made sure we gave them a good clean). And we’ve put plenty of clever little things in place to continue that commitment as the restaurant does its thing. Hidden in a back room are a handy glass crusher, and cardboard bailer that help make recycling easier. Two weeks ago the last arrangements were made so that now 100% of the restaurants’ waste will be recycled, we’re very proud to say that nothing from our Soho site will be going to landfill.

And now after some tremendous effort from so many marvellous people it’s time for us to stop talking about it, get the doors wide open and hand this restaurant over to you. We hope you like it.

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The Cacao Margarita

There’s a lot going on around London this week. Not only is it The London Restaurant Festival (Don’t forget to come along and try out our award winning menu before Monday 18th), but it’s also London Cocktail Week – A Celebration of London’s mixology heritage and a tribute to the world’s capital of cocktail culture.

So to mark this momentous occasion in the discerning drinker’s calendar we thought we’d give you a sneak preview of one of the new cocktails that will be hitting our menus in the next couple of weeks – The sublime Cacao Margarita.

Seldom has such a wonderful match of flavours been left undiscovered for so long, than that of tequila and chocolate, and the Cacao Margarita is the perfect way to indulge in this mystical pairing. Think velvety spice, with undertones of agave alongside the subtle kick that this slow burn margarita gives.

And here’s how you make it:

Be sure to use a good quality 100% agave tequila, any cheaper imitations just won’t do it justice.  We’ve used a blanco tequila in this recipe, but it works very well with the slightly sweeter reposado and añejo too.

35ml measure of 100% Agave Blanco Tequila
10ml cinnamon syrup
35ml milk
60gr chilli chocolate

First make your cinnamon syrup by melting 100g of sugar with 100ml of water and a stick of cinnamon. Once the sugar has completely melted, bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes until it becomes a syrup. You can use the remainder to sweeten hot chocolate, or in your coffee.
In a saucepan, warm the milk and add the chocolate. Stir and continue to heat gently until completely melted.
Add all of the ingredients to a shaker with cubed ice. Shake well and strain the liquid into a chilled glass. Serve with a sprinkle of chocolate and a cinnamon stick. 

If you have a go at making the Cacao Margarita for yourself, we’d love to hear about it. Post a comment below, or why not whack a photo up on our facebook page.