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Quiquiriqui (Bar)

Picture of Quiquiriqui in Shoreditch, London

The Golden Grill, 184 Hackney Road, Hoxton, Shoreditch, London, E2 7QL
Cuisine: [Other/Unclassified]
Tel: Not on file | Email to Quiquiriqui | Transport: Hoxton | Write review

Quiquiriqui Review

Best for: mezcal, in every size, shape and strength.

Great: Mexican ambience.

Hunter S. Thompson, pioneer of gonzo journalism and author of cult classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, famously enjoyed his mezcal on the side of a Singapore Sling, usually followed by a beer chaser.

I enjoyed my mezcal out of a terracotta sipping cup balanced at the bar in Quiquiriqui, a relatively new mezcaleria - or mezcal bar - in Shoreditch, east London. If Thompson were alive today and happened to visit east London on his sojourns, I reckon he’d approve of Quiquiriqui.

The bar started to swim before my eyes, contorting to the sound of muffled speech around me. My, that mezcal is deceivingly strong.

Just where were we, exactly? I seem to remember a kebab shop, and a neon light. That’s right, it’s all coming back to me, if not somewhat blurry.

Quiquiriqui is accessible either from the street - down a tiny side alley away from the bustle of Shoreditch High Street and noticeable only by the hand-sized neon sign above it - or from a kebab shop; no, seriously, enter the kebab shop, take a right and go down the stairs.

The venue is little more than the basement space of the kebab shop above it. Like a naughty schoolboy, it’s scruffy, grubby and unkempt, and all the more loveable for it.

An old jukebox, miserably leaning against the wall, spluttered into life after a couple of kicks from the owner of the establishment. That’s just what the bar needed: music, and not the sort that leaks from every radio station indiscriminately, but lilting Mexican Latino beats, or old-school indie rock. The mezcal slipped down easier with music in the background.

The bar, empty on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, packs out on Thursdays and Fridays with a select clientele of east London trendsters, hardcore cocktail buffs, and restaurant royalty in the shape of high-end chefs, sommeliers and bar owners.

Mezcal is rising in popularity on the foodie circuit, and London wants in on what Quiquiriqui has in abundance: bottles of the deceptively alcoholic mezcal sourced from the deserts of Mexico.

As the bar melted into me, and I melted into the seat, I sat back to properly observe my surroundings: a warm place; a place with heart and soul and spirit (and not just of the transparent, alcoholic kind). Maybe it was the mezcal, or maybe it was the atmosphere – that fiery Latino spirit – but I could see myself spending a lot of time here.

Mezcal is an agave-based spirit, from the same family as tequila but purer - so less of a hangover, in theory! - and more wine-like. There are hundreds of different types of mezcal made from a variety of different agave plants; from the gritty and visceral to the earthy and mineral-tasting. It should be drunk, as Thompson suggested, with a beer and lime chaser, and it should be savoured and sipped rather than slung down the neck like one might with tequila.

The owners of Quiquiriqui, two young ladies that have never ventured into owning a bar until now, regularly visit Mexico to source the finest mezcals. Each mezcal is made by small independent producers that use artisanal methods to achieve a fine-tasting spirit, uninhibited by the mass-production that ruins most commercial brand spirits. Because of this, the mezcal is healthily expensive, ranging anywhere from £7 to £20 for a small glass.

It was explained to me that, traditionally in Mexico, mezcal is often paired with an orange wedge coated in chilli, salt and the ground-up worm of the agave plant. As I was told this, I was given a plate of red-dusted orange slices and my fifth glass of mezcal. My stomach slightly baulked at the thought of ground up invertebrate coating the outside of the orange I was about to suck on; that thought, and the five or so glasses of mezcal I had just inhaled, nearly made me run for the toilet. But then I thought: what would Hunter S. Thompson do?

I manned up, had a large sip of mezcal, sucked on the orange and washed it all down with a beer chaser. And then I went home to write about it, channelling Hunter S. Thompson as I zig-zagged.
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Venue ID: 23596

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