About | Local is the New Black

By: Local Is The New Black  09-12-2011
Keywords: Bar

photo courtesy of Ryan Szulc

Reposado is known in its hood as one of the original lead birds of Ossington’s flock of bars and restaurants. But for local tequila drinkers in Toronto, its opening was much more like a long-awaited beacon in the night, and like moths to a flame they flew in.

Before Reposado opened in 2007, tequila tipplers in Toronto were often riddled with social scrutiny of their habit and forced to lead a double life. These die-hards kept their identities quiet ‘cause tequila’s got a bad rep.

It’s as if tequila drinkers were the superheroes of Toronto’s liquor-appreciating lot – the Batmen of judgmental Gotham.

This shouldn’t be a shock – how many tequila connoisseurs had you met before agave liquor flowed freely at Reposado? Slamming down prairie fires isn’t in the same vein, and neither is getting sloshed from blender margaritas.

According to the resident tequila experts at Reposado – Catherine MacFadyen, co-owner and Andrea Barber, bar manager – a true tequila connoisseur is a rather civilized drinker with particular and excellent taste. A good time bon vivant if you will.

Yet, for years, they have almost always been allusive. Like Reposado’s logo – the bat – tequila drinkers have long been creatures of the night – forced to appease their normal drinking habit at a time when tequila-downing is smiled, salt-licked and lime-squeezed upon.

The rarity of existing tequila expertise is due to the fact that, unlike other alcohols, tequila is associated with bad decisions. Surprised? Well you shouldn’t be – everyone has a bad ‘tequila’ story, or at least a foggy memory of what happened the night before the worst hangover of their lives. Such memories make people who drink tequila in the daytime appear to have a alcohol problem.  For instance, ordering a delicious tequila and grapefruit at brunch, runs you the risk of becoming a ‘social hazard’ at the table.

To most people, the only ‘normal’ way to drink tequila is by slathering some salt on their hand (or a drunk chick’s stomach), taking a bite out of a lime wedge, and knocking a mixto brand back out of a chipped shot glass.

photo courtesy of Ryan Szulc

The average bar is not a place where most agave aficionados can properly indulge their habit. For the tequila connoisseur, shooting low-quality tequila in this way is a misguided ritual for the unaware. But in the privacy of their own home, they are able remove their cloak of indifference and enjoy a snifter of a 100% agave variety, probably smuggled home in their luggage from Mexico.

Although it’s a sad truth for those who love it, tequila has always been the dirty one-night-stand of liquors.

That is before Catherine and Sandy MacFadyen, husband and wife and co-owners, opened the doors of Reposado.  Their redemption of tequila’s virtue is one of the major reasons the bar has managed to stay the trendy course for the past three years.

“We’ve always loved Mexico and have been sipping fantastic tequila for years but there was never a place for us in Toronto, so we decided to skip the flight and open our own,” said Catherine.

photo courtesy of Ryan Szulc

Beyond delivering some heat to your palette with the 55 tequilas behind the bar, Reposado also has a kitchen downstairs that serves up tasty tequila-inspired treats, namely tequila-cured smoked salmon with crostini and spicy pickle, picante crab cakes and empanada flights.

“Although it might not be the traditional thing to do, tequila is actually a excellent drink to pair with certain foods, especially jalapeño or chili dishes in Toronto’s freezing weather,” said Andrea Barber. “A tequila pairing menu is a great way to give a dinner party some flair, and it never fails to make things more interesting.”

photo courtesy of Ryan Szulc

The following is a tequila-pairing menu I cooked up to get tequila newbies on the path to true appreciation (and maybe a little tipsy too):

Tequila Pairing Menu

Course I

Clase Azule Platino

Empanadas stuffed with anchovies, black olives, sundried tomatoes and drizzled with chili oil.

This extremely smooth and slightly sweet tequila will contrast nicely with the salty flavours in the empanadas.

Course II

Mezcal Jaral DeBerrio

Mexican taco salad with Corno di Toro peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, avacado, jicama, black beans and cilantro served over garlicky black corn tortilla chips.

This water clear tequila has a mild aroma suggesting cucumber; and a medium viscosity with a hint of spice and dominant vegetable notes, making it a classic fit for a freshly chopped salad.

Course III

Don Julio Blanco Blood Orange Margarita

Grilled Sea Bass marinated in tequila, lemon-lime and jalapeños. Served with Grilled Blood Oranges and Stuffed Serrano Peppers with Oaxaca Cheese.

This tequila has strong agave expression and fresh citrus notes – an ideal base for a salty marguerita and perfectly paired with a citrus and whitefish meal.

Course IV

Patron XO Café Tequila Liqueur

Sopapilla Cheescake Pie with Mexican Vanilla and Lime Ice Cream

This coffee bean coloured tequila liqueur has an aroma of sweet espresso and a rich taste of coffee,vanilla, honey and lime. It is best served on ice, and is a lovely match for a creamy and citrusy dessert.

Tequila lovers can rest assured that their habit no longer requires underground lairs, masks or hidden identities.  Reposado, Ossington’s beloved bat cave, has converted  society’s opinion of tequila connoisseurs from a mutant breed of bar fly, to an accepted member of the spirituous population. This gifted little tapas bar has reversed the need to hide, and now tipplers of all origins can drink, sip, swirl, or knock back in perfect harmony.

Because once tequila-drinkers harness the power of Reposado, it becomes a whole new world for superheroes.

Keywords: Bar

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