My friend Will of the Hawksmoor fame is also a part owner at Green & Red, a Mexican bar and restaurant in Shoreditch. He, always up for a challenge, told me he could change my mind about it. At his invitation and with some trepidation, I trudged over with a tequila-loving friend in tow.
In the able hands (uhm, figuratively) of the lovely barman, Davide, he asked me what my favourite cocktail was. The martini, of course. It didn't work so well in its tequila guise. I managed a sip and and a grimace.
We got back to basics with the tastings of the different ages of tequila. Through this, I learnt that I like the aged stuff the best, the tequila that's caramel in colour, and aged in barrels for a couple of years. The blanco, the youngest of all the three ages we tried, had the strongest flavour of agave. It was my least favourite.
What I did love though were the shots of sangrita (left) and verdita (right), which you drink after each tequila. The sangrita was like a little shot of bloody mary; spicy and intensely of tomato flavour. The verdita is a blend of mint, coriander, salt and chilli and it was incredibly moreish and refreshing.
The Real Hacienda is one of the priciest tequilas there. At £60 a shot, only a few hundred bottles of it are in existence since the maker closed down. It was alright.
A selection of tacos and totopos with salsas and guacamole arrived to line the stomachs. The corn tortillas which I usually find a bit chewy and muddy-tasting were thin, light and conveyed the food to the mouth well as the juices dribbled down my hands. The prawn filling was expertly cooked, with a dice of red onion, some salsa and a few coriander leaves to liven it up. Pork and pineapple was another favourite what with it being tender and smoky. The Nopales y Queso Fresco was standout - crunchy cactus with a fresh cheese and some jalapeno. It was nothing like the rubbery, bouncy salt slabs of queso fresco I suffered in Nicaragua.
We ended with probably the only drink I'd order happily again, and it was this watermelon margerita. Fresh watermelon smashed up with plenty ice, it belied the merest hint of agave.
So while I haven't been swayed towards the so-called merits of tequila, I've fallen in love with verdita and sangrita. I'd drink tequila just for them. And the next time I'm back, I'll be exploring that menu more extensively.
Green & Red
51 Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6LA
Tel: 0207 749 9670