Announcement: It is official, tequila is not just for shots and may have overtaken gin as the on-trend spirit to drink. It has become the liquor of choice in many new cocktails and bars up and down the country are joining the trend. I'm honestly not complaining as i love tequila.
So I was excited to be invited to Chiquila - an evening hosted by Tex-Mex restaurant chain Chiquito which celebrates the history and flavours of Tequila whilst enjoying authentic mouth watering dishes. Chiquito have been travelling around the country, hosting this event in a different city each month and this time it was the turn of the great northern city that is Manchester.
The evening started with a platter of crunchy homemade tortilla chips with a delicious selection of dips paired with a glass of Le Patronic - a fizzy and zesty combination of tequila, elderflower liquer and tonic water. Whilst munching on a chip or ten, we got to hear a little bit more about the chain which is probably the most popular Tex-Mex chain in the UK with over 85 outlets. It was a surprise to hear that about 86% of the food served in the restaurants are freshly prepared in-house and this was clearly evident as we delved through each dish later on. The evening was to be experimental. A chance for the brand to trial a few new dishes and drinks. The brands Head of Bar was excited to give us a taste of a range of tequila cocktails which had been hand picked and paired with each course. Some of which had even been inspired by his recent trip to Mexico.
First up were the more-ish and delicious halloumi bites topped with a sweet cranberry salsa, which i could have had 10 more of. Three bites were simply not enough. This was matched with a cocktail of Patron Blanco tequila + Purdey's Edge + hibiscus liquer. Purdey's edge, i found out, is a multivitamin drink endorsed by Idris Elba - #i'msold!
Next up was the S&S Taco and an 1800 Classic Margarita. S&S stood for salmon and siracha which were the main flavours of this dish. This was also a winner in my eyes and it would be great to see this on their regular menu. The strong flavours of the salmon was perfectly paired with the strong citrus notes in the Margarita, which according tho the Head of Bar, scored highest in a blind test of over a dozen Margaritas.
I was too busy enjoying this trio of shots to take a photo of the delicious pulled pork croquettes. The shots are an ode to the colours of the Mexican flag.
Red (spicy sangrita to warm you up), White (Ocho Blanco Tequila) and Green (sangrita verde to cleanse the palette). So good we had to have two!
This added an element of fun to the dining experience and was also necessary as tequila is still a great spirit to shot!
The last savoury dish was a delicious small plate of succulent medium rare chimichurri skirt steak on a bed of roasted onions and peppers. No tasting menu is complete without a bit of theatre and the smoke from cabernet oak chips rose from the aptly named the rosemary smoked tommie. This cocktail was a mix of Don Julio Tequila with fresh lime, agave syrup and a hint of rosemary.
For dessert we enjoyed a glass of Patron XO Incendio with some freshly baked chocolate churros. After the Patron event I went to a few months ago, i had been excited to try the Patron XO Incendio which is a chilli-chocolate flavoured tequila. As a big fan of the XO Cafe, It wasn't suprising that i loved this too. I had a great time at this event. It was once again very nice to see a restaurant chain really making a lot of effort into preparing authentic, fresh and tasty dishes. I suppose you have to with so much competition around these days.