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What to drink at El Bar de Cavita

Acclaimed Marylebone Mexican restaurant Cavita has opened a brand new basement bar. Founder Adriana Cavita offers an insight into what cocktails visitors will be drinking alongside Mexican street food-inspired dishes.

“Historically, agave-based alcohol was always the cheapest to buy and consumed mainly by the poorer population. Whilst the rich would import whisky, the poorer rural communities used agave to create spirits of amazing character,” Cavita explained when asked by the drinks business about why she thinks agave-based spirits are so big right now. “Some Tequilas, and especially mezcals, were and still are made with artisanal methods and the agave gives the product such an amazing and unique flavour. Over time popularity and appreciation grew in America and I think this has helped bring it to a wider world market. I think Mexico is really having a renaissance right now and this includes its cuisine and even more so its beautiful agave spirits.”

Customers will be able to discover the history of these agave-based spirits, as well as the wider world of Mexican drinks.

“‘Adriana’s flight’ is a constantly changing and evolving flight of my favourite mezcals. It is used to engage with customers and explain the diversity of this sacred spirit. In addition, we have amazing, unique Mexican spirits, from whiskey to sotol [a spirit distilled from succulents from the Daylirion genus, not Agave] and everything in between. If it’s made in Mexico, there’s a good chance you’ll find it at El bar de Cavita.”

As neat as that all sounds, mixology is very much at the forefront of El Bar de Cavita.

“For me a perfect cocktail recipe uses the same fundamentals as my food,” Cavita argued. “It needs to have the right balance of acidity and sweetness, as well as complimentary texture and aroma. I love cocktails with only a few ingredients where the spirit is the hero and there is no where to hide, however that doesn’t mean I don’t love a spicy margarita with plenty of punch.”

Picking a few of her favourite cocktails from the list, Cavita said: “Our Oaxaca Old Fashioned is a great twist on the traditional cocktail, made with mezcal, agave nectar and grapefruit bitters. The Golden Honeybee is a new addition combining Tequila, fresh ginger, lemon, honey and bitters. Obviously I love a Margarita, but my personal favourite is our Spicy Mezcalita, which has mezcal and fresh jalapeño as its main flavours!”

Whereas the upstairs restaurant, launched in 2022, offers a more general homage to great Mexican cooking, El Bulli alumnus Cavita is wholly focusing on the sort of dishes rustled up by the country’s street vendors at El Bar de Cavita. This is partly because her grandmother used to cook and sell antojitos (literally meaning ‘little cravings’) from a roadside stall in Mexico City’s Azcapotzalco borough. A trans-Atlantic trip might be the only way to get the full experience, but great lengths have been taken to capture the spirit of this style of cooking.

“I have always loved Mexican street food, the concept with our bar is to bring the vibrant food of the people with the soul of Mexican cantinas. We have paid attention to every detail, from the recycled chairs, the terracotta floor tiles and even the beautiful wall decorations imported via my own suitcase! Our restaurant kitchen is designed with a huge open fire grill and charcoal fuelled comal and this allows us to create some of our amazing and authentic street food dishes.”

“The interior was conceived to be a dark and decadent space,” Cavita explained, “designed to create the perfect cocktail lounge or the venue for a hedonistic party. Every element was meticulously chosen to pay homage to Mexico without becoming a cliche. From the exposed bricks and beams, to beautiful tiles and intimate lighting, every element has been carefully curated. We want you to come and sample something truly unique, a Mexican bodega in the heart of London.”

Given the similarity of the philosophy Cavita applies to both food and drink, it makes sense that great thought has been given to the pairings.

“Our Hamachi Tostada pairs very well with Oaxaca Old Fashioned with the freshness of the dish complimenting the complexity and sweetness of this mezcal forward cocktail. Our new octopus skewers go very well with the Golden Honeybee because the habanero sauce is quite spicy and balances beautifully with this drink. Lastly to pair with the Spicy Mezcalita, I would have to choose our Quesabirria. The two of them together are a flavour explosion…as they say: ‘game appreciates game’.”

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