It’s National Margarita Day(ish) and so we headed to London agaveria Hacha to taste a twist on a Margarita that’s served to look like a glass of water…
Ok, so today isn’t actually National Margarita Day, that was yesterday. Close enough. The point is, it’s a great excuse (not that we need one. Oh we’re so bad) to drink one of the finest cocktail creations around.
Yes, we’ve covered the Margarita before. We know the history. We understand the basics. You need Tequila. You need citrus. You need an elegant balance between sweet and sour notes. And so on and so forth.
But what we haven’t done enough shouting about is London’s growing agaveria scene. ‘What’s this?!’, you exclaim, Margarita (hopefully) in hand. It’s a bar dedicated to all things delicious and distilled from the agave plant, like Tequila, mezcal, and more.
A wonderful example of just how nerdy and interesting and cool the drinks world is becoming. Or insufferable and hipsterish if you’re the kind of person who likes to read the paper and tut at the breakfast table.
London’s first agaveria: Hacha
Hacha was the capital’s first agaveria when it opened its doors in 2019 in Dalston. Since then it’s opened a location in Brixton as well, while the number of bars dedicated to Tequila and mezcal continues to grow as interest in the spirit does. Founders Deano Moncrieffe and Emma Murphy were determined to bring agave-based spirits to a larger audience – their approach consists of a regularly-changing list of 25 spirits including Tequilas, mezcals, and lesser-known agave-based libations. There’s also a kitchen partner-in-crime in the form of Maiz Azul, who whip up complimentary Mexican serves like camote tacos, chicken tinga, and cheese chicharon.
The star of the show is our focus this week: the Mirror Margarita. Moncrieffe wanted to create something with a recognisable flavour and name, but a totally new look. Hence, a crystal-clear serve named ‘mirror’. Hacha’s signature cocktail is a mix of blanco Tequila, a homemade sour mix, and cane syrup. It took him months of testing to create the mix and get it right, finding the balance between making something crystal clear that also extracts maximum flavour from a few core ingredients, without drowning the agave spirit at the cocktail’s core.
The sour mix is really the drink’s key, which Moncrieffe made with some inspiration from the properties of the agave plant. At night it releases a malic acid, which is responsible for some sour and bitter notes. By combining the oils of red, white, and pink grapefruits with a malic acid solution, he was able to make a unique mix that replaces lime juice, helping it to become crystal clear and be batched and packaged in advance. This last part actually adds to the effect, because it looks like you’re being poured a bottle of tap water when you’re being served at Hacha.
This objective has obviously paid off, as the Mirror Margarita is a smash hit. It was voted Time Out’s 7th Best Cocktail in the World and recognised as Cocktail of the Year 2020 at the CLASS Bar Awards. Due to popular demand, it’s now its own brand with a website and a bottle shop, which sells ready-to-drink editions made with Tequila or mezcal. Sure, some might not think it’s not the most Instagrammable, unless you’re a minimalist by heart, but a) who cares? And b) what’s important is that it’s superbly balanced, very tasty – a great example of how you can create something engaging and forward-thinking with simple ingredients and classic serves.
Happy Margarita Day(ish)!
As you can imagine, Margarita Day’s a big one in the calendar of an award-winning agaveria. To celebrate, Hacha is hosting a series of special events across its Brixton and Dalston locations from last night, including the Patrón Pop Up Record Shop featuring an exclusive month-long activation with the Tequila brand, with live DJs and bespoke cocktails. There’s also an evening of mezcal Margaritas and canapés with The Lost Explorer Mezcal. Salmiana Mezcal Margarita paired with blue cheese, avocado and honey drizzled on bread, anyone?
We attended one such event last night, a tasting menu that charted the evolution of the Margarita. The journey through the ages began with a classic 1930s-style cocktail alongside black bean quesadillas (Tex-Mex flavours done brilliantly), followed by a 70s-inspired frozen concoction (a highlight, so fun and fruity) paired with chilli Mexican picadillo, and finally the taste of the future: the Mirror Margarita with a Mexican flan in support.
After enjoying all this at Hacha’s Brixton location, we then got a full taste of how alive and well the Margarita is by visiting Jack Solomons Club in Soho for VIVIR’s Margarita Jungle (we recommend the Sleeping Bandit), and Mexican restaurant The Gunmakers to enjoy twists on the Margarita with food from Tigre Tacos. It was tremendous to see so many enjoying National Margarita Day and taste the number of ways people are experimenting with it, while also appreciating how important it is to make sure you have great food to pair with it. C’mon people, without tasty bites, are we celebrating or what?
How to make the Mirror Margarita
If all of that has whetted your appetite then you should be ready to make your own Mirror Margarita. We’ve provided two recipes here. One is an interpretation of the Hacha signature which makes a full litre of Margarita that you always pop into a clear bottle to pour from to get the full effect. Of course, we do highly recommend you get the original at Hacha and support the agaveria in this difficult time for hospitality. The other is a much simpler recipe whipped up by the ever-excellent Difford’s Guide that should prove easier if you don’t fancy yourself to nail a crystal-clear sour mix.
Enjoy, and happy National Margarita Day. Yes, I know it was yesterday. But in the same way a puppy isn’t just for Christmas, a Margarita should be savoured all year round.
Mirror Margarita method uno (original)
300ml Hacha sour mix
125ml cane syrup
200ml filtered water
Add the oils of red, white and pink grapefruits to a malic acid solution to create the Hacha sour mix, then pour into a jug with half a bottle of Blanco Tequila/mezcal. Mix your cane syrup, Cointreau, and filtered water together, pour into the large jug, and stir well. Pour over ice into an Old Fashioned glass (Tommy’s style), stir for around 10 seconds, and serve.
Mirror Margarita method dos (simplified)
15ml cane syrup
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass. Simple!