Hacha, a new agave bar in London’s Dalston, specialises in serving crystal-clear margaritas, as well as flights of tequila and mezcal with surprising food pairings. Jenny Southan reports
From the outside, Hacha looks like just anoyther little East London bar, one that you could easily walk past. Go in and take a seat, though, and you will be presented with a truly innovative agave-based cocktail menu that showcases 25 different rare and fine mezcals and tequilas that change on a regular basis.
Available to order individually or as a tasting flight (£16, £22 and £28), each measure is paired with an edible “flavour enhancer” such as goat cheese, popcorn, garlic and chilli olives, milky bar, beef Monster Munch crisps or rum-soaked grilled pineapple.Bartender and founder Deano Moncrieffe wants to introduce customers to different ways of drinking these spirits, both types of which are made from Mexico’s native agave plant, although mezcal has an added smokey flavour from the cooking of the agave hearts in a barbacoa over an open fire.
Moncrieffe, who is also a luxury tequila ambassador for Diageo Reserve, says: “I have a chart with 380 flavours related to agave spirits. Key words like ethanol, acidity, cheese, sour and stale relate to various stages of production so I think of food pairings that go with them.”
In addition to cocktails such as a clarified Tequila Sunrise, made with transparent orange juice with the pulp filtered out, hibiscus and pomegranate shrub, and the Batanga (Anejo tequila, homemade cola and a Guinness float), Hacha serves an unusual crystal-clear margarita.Normally a tequila-based drink that appears cloudy because of the fresh lime juice that is added, the Mirror Margarita is made with malic acid and citrus zests instead of fresh lime, allowing it to have all the tart, citrus flavour, without the cloudiness. The result is also incredibly smooth with just the right amount of sweetness to offset.
The pre-mixed drink is poured like water from a glass vitrine on the bar. Finished with citrus mist, it has a square of seaweed nori paper floating inside or stem of samphire, and is served Tommy’s style on the rocks.
Moncrieffe launched Hacha after being inspired by countless trips to Mexico visiting distilleries and producers, which have also provided him with an impressive knowledge of the category and a collection of top mezcals and tequilas.