An east London bar celebrating agave spirits

The true spirit of Mexico can be found among the edgy ateliers of east London, at this alluring boîte

Image: Chris Burke

Kingsland Road in east London is not a looker — but behind the scenes, in its countless workshops, photographic studios and designer pop-ups, it’s where many of the fashion world’s most avant-garde ideas are born. It’s home to some of the city’s most creative bars too. Three Sheets and Untitled are two local drinking holes that have pushed the envelope in the past few years. And now you’ve also got Hacha to add to the list. 

Hacha is a celebration of all things agave: tequila, mezcal and many types of agave spirit you’ve probably never even heard of. It’s a bar that pays tribute to Mexico, but not to cheesy “Mexicana”. Its interior is cool and uncluttered, with whitewashed walls and a cerulean and terracotta colour scheme inspired by the blue agave fields and iron-red soils of Jalisco.  

The selection of spirits is compact – at any one time there are only 25 agave spirits behind the bar. But it’s a line-up full of good things: award-winning tequilas, small-batch mezcals, iconic añejos and cult finds from Jalisco, Oaxaca and Chihuahua. And it changes every week. 

Hacha (Mexican for “axe”) is an independent venture by Deano Moncrieffe, luxury tequila ambassador for Diageo Reserve for the past 11 years. With his dreadlock top-knot and Booth & Bruce glasses, Moncrieffe could have easily come from a neighbouring fashion shoot. But his passion is agave spirits. “There are so many misconceptions about tequila and mezcal,” he says. “I want to help people discover all the amazing flavours you can find in these drinks.” 

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To get customers to savour, rather than shoot, their tequila, Moncrieffe serves the three-strong tasting flights in elegant Nick & Nora cocktail glasses on a marble slab. Each taster comes with a drink or nibble to amplify its flavours. El Rayo Plata, a verdant tequila made from a blend of highland and lowland agaves, comes with a non-alcoholic shot of botanical Seedlip. The golden Espadin Curado is paired with salted butterscotch chocolate. A pungent La Venenosa Raicilla (a type of mezcal) comes with a very on-trend dropper of CBD oil. The short cocktail list sees tequila classics laced with all kinds of interesting Mexican flavours: tepache (fruity/funky), horchata (milky/spicy), damiana (bitter/floral). The house cocktail is a crystal-clear Mirror Margarita, served ungarnished to highlight its clarity. I also had a lovely Margarita twist made with blanco tequila, pistachio syrup and rosemary-smoked lime. 

Come next London Fashion Week, I expect everyone will be sipping the Champagne Paloma — a mix of tequila, grapefruit and Moët that will surely never go out of style.

Alice Lascelles is Fortum & Mason Drinks Writer of the Year 2019. @alicelascelles

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