222 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6PJ
An entire bar dedicated to tequila. Need I say more?
Liverpool’s Tequila bar, El Bandito, is looking for a permanent home in London. They’ve chosen The Drunken Monkey in Shoreditch to “pop up” in for the meantime and have brought 50 tequilas and 25 mezcals with them. But, I’m told they’d have brought more if there was more space.
This pop up is the work of John Ennis and Matt Farrell who own six bars in Liverpool. One being the original El Bandito which was the first UK bar to win ‘Mezcaleria’ status by Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal. They hope to expand their success with this new London branch.
Being temporary housed hasn’t stopped them from decorating. Mexican decor and cacti is placed all around the basement transforming it into a shadowy tequila den. I park myself at the bar partly because I want to be closer to the golden elixr, and partly because there is hardly any room elsewhere. There’s enough room for only 40 people here, making it a more intimate affair.
I break myself in with one shot of mezcal and one shot of tequila. The bartender casually talks about what we’re drinking and the difference between the two types of agave spirit. All the staff seem extremely knowledgeable about the drinks but in a way that isn’t taking on the role of the pretentious sommelier.
I continue to sip out of the authentic Mexican dish that it’s served in while the speakers blare Latino style songs. The menu lists a range of cocktails and two beers- Alhambra Reserve (£6) and Pacfico (£4.50). What really interests me is their flights of six, both below £20. They have a great selection including a ham-infused tequila called Ibercio and other specialist ranges. Their most expensive is at £25 a shot, and luckily the bar staff carefully warns me before trying.
But there are more ways of drinking tequila than one and El Bandito gives you those options. From the usual frozen margaritas to my personal favourite way of mixing it with ginger beer. The homemade Desperado is also worth a try, and tastes far better than the original thing.
Shoreditch is the bar’s first trial run and it hopes to pop up in more spaces till they find a place that fits. I don’t see no reason why this tequileria shouldn’t stay. El Bandito is one of the best ways to experience real tequila without a dreaded Jose Cuevo in sight.
Find more info on their website here.