It always takes me a while to write about Cocktails in the City.
Sometimes it’s down to hangover – let’s face it 20+ bars in one evening is a lot to get through, even if you just hit the few bars you really want to sample.
It also doesn’t help that it’s the same week as the Boutique Bar Show – for those of us who work with booze, it’s a must go. Brands of all kinds in one venue, workshops from brand ambassadors, bartenders and consultants in the industry.
This time, I have no such excuse. The best I’ve got is that I have a backlog of posts to write – which is no excuse at all really. I should just write.
This year I had an extra invitation. As well as visiting the main event with it’s ever stunning cocktails, I had the opportunity to chat to Karine Tillard, the Brand Ambassador for Patrón Tequila.
Most of us know Patrón – it’s one of the few Tequilas to make it into the supermarkets, and yet it still has the reputation of being something to shoot at the end of the night and firmly blame for your hangover the next morning. Neatly avoiding thinking about the bottle of red wine and two cocktails you consumed beforehand. Yeah, we’ve all been there.
And yet, oddly, it’s not a tequila I know well. Most of my experiences with it have involved Patrón Cafe XO in Apotheca, and a sample or two of their stunning Citronge Liqueur which takes the smoke of tequila and adds a delicious sweet and bitter orange touch.
Sitting and sipping the sweet punch created by The Botanist Manchester for the event, Karin explained further.
“It’s not the big factory manufactured product everyone thinks it is. It’s still crafted by hand – even I didn’t realise”, she tells me as we sip and chat amongst the noise of a crowd of networking suits.
Everything starts with agave – the blue agave plant to be precise. These are grown over a period of 8 to 14 years before they’re harvested. Oh yes, there’s a lot of time invested in tequila.
They’re then harvested by hand by a team of skilled Jimadors, who use a coa – a long pole which has a sharp round knife at the end to remove the long, fleshy and spike studded leaves from the outside of the plant. The pinas, as they are now calledare then collected and put into huge clay ovens to bake. This is a very long, slow process and allows the plants to not only soften, but release it’s natural sugar.
The softened pinas are crushed, strained and the juice is allowed to ferment over a few days, becoming gently alcoholic, similar to a beer. This is then distilled, and for a silver tequila, it’s often left to rest in stainless steel vats, with no ageing process at all.
This is the case with Patrón Silver Tequila, that used for CITC. The result is a lightly smoky, citrussy tequila with a little hint of pepper at the end. It’s smooth and sweet and perfect for cocktails. It’s why in my house it often finds it way into a Margarita or two.
It also goes brilliantly with ginger, as demonstrated by one of the cocktails created for CITC with Patrón – the oregano and ginger crush was sweet, herbal with a hint of ginger heat at the back of the throat which made it refreshing and rather moreish for many.
It was a fascinating look into Patrón, but I find myself with a thirst for more. Discovering it wasn’t the heavily industrialised brand I’d assumed was an eye opener and I’m dying to sample some of the others in the range that have been aged in barrels from two months through to three years onwards.
One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor?
With thanks again to Patrón, CITC, The Botanist and Karin herself. I’m looking forward to more tequila adventures.