It’s small, it’s hot and it gets very sweaty at weekends. No, we’re not talking about Amanda Harrington’s muff, but the city’s latest must-visit venue.

We all love Santa Chupitos. Good service, nice crowd, expert drinks. No messing. All the stuff that makes going out at night better than working at your desk during the day.

So imagine our delight when head bar honcho Dan McNeill (pic l) told us he’d scuttled downstairs to open up the city’s first Tequileria (that’s a tequila bar with all the nasty stag and hen additives carefully filtered out).

Sound the Bar Ca Va klaxon. There’s another place in the city where the optics pour pure amber nectar. Of the Latin variety.

“I’ve always loved small, intimate cocktail bars, of the sort they have so many of in New York,” Dan tells SevenStreets (while offering us a can of Coke. Can you believe it? The nerve of the man).

“Last time I was there, I fell in love with this little neighbourhood bar in the East Village and just knew that’s what Liverpool needed,” he says.

He was right. Despite our unadulterated love for all things Santa Chupitos we find it staggering that no-one else has added to the city’s small, in-the-know, chilled-out bar map (Aloha aside). Two bars do not a scene make. We need more. And Dan’s leading the charge.

“It had to be a tequila bar,” Dan says, “because it’s the most misunderstood drink out there. And I’m on a mission to re-educate the masses.”

Well, not masses exactly. The bar comfortably holds 30. It probably uncomfortably holds more, but you don’t want to risk someone spilling your Reposado, do you?

Talking of which, in such a small space, how are they planning to keep the Gringos at bay, we wonder?

“The Ropewalks has been getting a bit ridiculous of late,” Dan’s right-hand man Tony Rowlands chips in. “But, thankfully, Concert Square acts as kind of a buffer zone. And if we see anyone who just doesn’t seem to get it, we’ll politely point them in the direction of Walkabout.”

“Not that we’re sniffy about who we let in,” says Dan. “We’re here to give everyone a good time. We’re hoping the sort of atmosphere you’ll get down here will be self selecting. Scallies just won’t get it.”

The ‘down here’ Dan’s talking about used to be a subterranean newsagents – but now, with a few judiciously placed Moorish touches, a jazz/funk/Motown soundtrack and a gleaming back-bar stacked with various concoctions of fermented Agave nectar, the place is positively straight outta Chihuahua. It’s the Ropewalks, but not as we know it.

“Good tequila isn’t what you’re used to drinking if Bar Ca Va or a jug of marqueritas at Chiquitos is the sum of your experiences,” says Dan, who buys straight from a London merchants’ specialising in Mexico’s national drink, and tops up his knowledge with regular tastings down Mexico way.

“It’s as complex and rewarding as any premium spirit, and this is the place to experience it.”

We’re having some of that. And next time, Dan, hold the Coke.

Seven Shots of Tequila

Tequila is the fermented juice of the Agave – a plant similar to a yucca, and native to Latin America. It’s not, as is commonly thought, obtained from cactus juice. Idiots.

The spirit comes in three types. Blanco, the cheapest, is matured for 60 days, creating a raw base for cocktails. Reposado has been matured in oak barrels for 2-4 years and is the perfect choice for a cheeky shot, while Anejo is the aged, finer variety.

Tequila can only be produced in Mexico. Not necessarily in Tequila. But close enough.

Forget the worm. It’s just a marketing gimmick introduced in the 1940s, and doesn’t denote a premium brand. It denotes a tourist with money to burn.

Beer and tequila are best mates. This is a fact. Having them together is the very definition of ‘drinking responsibly’.

Stuck on what to try? Go for Dan’s Butterfinger cocktail. Slides down a treat. Tastes like Snickers. But careful, it may make you nuts.

Herradura – Dan’s preferred brand – is 100% estate botted, 100% Blue Agave. Accept no substitute: Jose Cuervo, for example, isn’t a pure tequila, but adds sugar to the mix for a cheaper, inferior blend.

Bandito Tequila
Slater Street

(It’s the blue door, just round the corner from Santa’s entrance, down towards Duke Street)

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