Arriba! The Liquorists’ Tequila Trail enlightens Manchester on the most misunderstood of spirits

By Tui Benjamin

With previous bar crawl experiences consisting of wearing matching t-shirts and being subjected to the enforced drinking of lurid cocktails, an adventure with The Liquorists was to constitute my first foray into ‘classy’ crawling.

Tequila was the subject of this trail, and I was eager to see an old acquaintance in a new and sophisticated light… One that didn’t involve slamming, or bottles with red plastic sombreros.

Expectations for a night of tequila education courtesy of Liquorists Tom Sneesby and Jody Monteith were therefore running high on arrival at their secret headquarters, #22Redbank.

They were not to be disappointed.

Arriving to candles, chatter and the soft strains of Mexican music, it was easy to forget it was a dreary October night in Manchester.

But it was time to get down to business. After a brief introductory talk from Tom, our first neat tequila was a Jose Cuervo Tradicional.

Despite initial reservations about whether I would actually notice any differences by drinking the neat spirit slowly, taking my time proved what a complex beast tequila is.

Smooth and rich, sipping and not shotting this spirit was a surprisingly enjoyable experience.

Jody was already whipping us up our next tipple, and where else to start but with the world’s most popular cocktail, a margarita.

Named after Rita Hayworth and traditionally served with no ice and no sugar, this was a gorgeous concoction with the salt which lined half the glass’ rim (the polite way to do it) serving to temper the tartness of the citrus.

As we tucked into barbequed sweet corn, tacos and nacho pots heaped with guacamole, salsa and melted cheese, tequila myths were busted.

One such myth, flimsy at best, that the traditional salt of the slammer is to replenish bodily salts lost in the Mexican heat, was announced as profoundly false.

The salt was most likely originally incorporated to mask the taste of bad tequila, Tom informed us.  

Soon enough taxis arrived and we were whisked to the Northern Quarter’s Apotheca to sample a Don Julio Reposado.

Retailing at twice the price of the previous, there was a difference in flavour that even my amateur palate could discern.

The first luxury tequila to come onto the market and promoted as a ‘luxury drop’, this was smoky and aggressive.

Our second cocktail, a mango and rosemary margarita, was quickly pointed out as the taste twin of a tropical Solero. I wasn’t complaining.

Inevitably enough, the tequila worm legend found its way into conversation.

The worm, actually the larval form of a moth which lives on the agave plant, can be found in some bottles and is considered extremely lucky if it makes its way into your glass.

It was in Apotheca that I committed the tequila faux pas of confessing a penchant for Desperados.

Proclaimed by Tom to be ‘a mixture of s*** tequila and s*** beer’, this didn’t go down too well.

On to Socio Rehab next, where we sampled white tequila El Jimador Blanco.

A completely clear spirit, it is unaged and so is not tinged by the wood of the barrels and the vanilla and caramel notes they bring with them.

Made from 100% blue agave, this was a fresh, bright and vegetal spirit which worked perfectly with the citrus flavours of the paloma cocktails we were handed.

My favourite cocktail of the night, these were made with pink grapefruit and Ting, a tart and sweet Caribbean grapefruit juice drink.

The fourth tequila, which we sampled in Hula Tiki Lounge, was also unaged.

This time, it was a Casa Herradura Plata which took centre stage neat and as part of a Tommy’s Margarita, a pared-back number consisting of tequila, lime and agave syrup served simply on the rocks.

In final venue Kosmonaught, we sampled Tabatio Anejo Blanco tequila and tasted tapatians, a long cocktail of tequila sweetened with crème de cassis.

An experience which surely can never get old, a Liquorist trail offers great value for money with the opportunity to learn about and sample luxury spirits and meet like-minded people along the way.

As for their #NoHangoverGuaranteed promise – no comment. But as far as drinking on a school night goes, it doesn’t get much more fun than this.

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