It’s totally normal to leave work at 3 pm for a margarita mission and end up eating crickets, right? Because that was my Monday.*
*Yes, I also went to Big Sky Buckhead’s grand opening party on Monday night and had more work-related drinks. The life of the Woblet blogger is tough.
I’d been wanting to check out La Urbana Tequila & Mezcal Bar for a while now–they opened on the Westside about a month ago, and as soon as I read that they’d have margaritas on tap, I knew I’d have to give it a go. I owe it to the faithful readers of this blog to drink margaritas and write about it–or at least, that’s what I told my boss. In any event, Elyse and I left work at 3 pm to go grab some margaritas. Totally normal day in the life of
an alcoholic the Woblet blogger. We arrived at La Urbana, sat at the bar and I promptly ordered myself a margarita on tap.The idea of a draught margarita may be worrisome; when I first heard of it and decided to blog about it, I expected to write about what a failure it is. (I’m an eternal optimist, I know.) But as my bartender explained to me, the margaritas on tap are made fresh with tequila, fresh-squeezed lime juice, simple syrup, and liqueur (“like Triple Sec,” according to my bartender) before being poured into a keg. The keg is tapped with two lines–one two pull the mixture up through the tap, and the other to pump some enough carbon dioxide into the liquid to keep it circulating and fresh (and to provide the pressure to drive it up the other tap into your glass).** It also made it the tiniest bit fizzy, which was pleasant. **This is basically how beer kegs work as well. While the bartender poured it, I checked out the rest of the drink menu, which is separated into three categories: mezcal, tequila, and draught. The first two sections are filled with cocktails made with either of the agave-based spirits, while the third contains the draught margarita that I sought, three Mexican beers, and and a locally brewed IPA. The bar has other spirits available, but they’re not listed on the menu. The bar’s mission, after all, is to promote mezcal and tequila, and they do a good job of it. The owner, Jesus Onate, and several employees are Certified Tequiliers, and Onate is working to become a Master Mezcalier as well. My bartender explained to me the difference between the two liquors: they’re both made from heart of the agave plant (called the piña), which are roasted to to break down the plant’s complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. The roasted piñas are then ground into a mash for fermentation and distillation. So far, the process sounds is identical, but the key difference is in how the piñas are roasted. For mezcal production, they’re roasted in underground pit ovens, which gives the final product its distinctive smokey flavor. Tequila, on the other hand, is made with baked piñas, which never acquire the earthen taste that characterizes mezcal. Knowing that mezcal and tequila taste completely different and being a thorough food blogger, I ordered a second margarita (for Elyse) to compare with the one from the tap: the Spicy Margarita, made with mezcal, jalapeño/pineapple syrup, and fresh lime. The rim of the glass was dipped in chipotle salt, which mirrored the mezcal’s smokiness.The intricacies of kegging margaritas and the difference between agave-based spirits aside, both drinks were really great. Surprisingly great. As I said, I wasn’t expecting too much from the margarita on tap. I assumed that it was novelty item that would lack any real goodness, but I was wrong. It was simple, clean, and refreshing–everything a good margarita should be. There was none of that bitter, bottled citrus taste that I find abhorrent in margaritas, so it was clear that they weren’t lying about using fresh-squeezed limes. The dominant flavor was the tequila, which was a pleasant surprise. So many margarita recipes seem to assume that drinkers choose the drink in spite of the presence of tequila, and subsequently use so much liqueur or juice that the flavor of the tequila is drowned out. In contrast, La Urbana’s margarita seemed to celebrate the tequila, and the other ingredients only served to complement that flavor rather than cover it up. It was perfect. The spicy margarita with mezcal was also excellently balanced. The spiciness from the jalapeño countered the smokey flavor of mezcal, and both potentially overly strong flavors were offset by the sweetness of the pineapple. The drink was very well-balanced and dangerously drinkable. Impressed with and enjoying our midday margaritas, Elyse and I decided to up the ante and try the authentic Mexican street food that we saw behind the bar: crickets.
In truth, our bartender offered them to us and teased us when we were subsequently grossed out, so we felt like we had to prove ourselves by eating the crunchy little bugs. There were two options available to us: plain crickets and those covered in a salty mixture, but we opted for plain. The verdict was not good, but nor was it bad. The flavor was unexpected and unusual. I’d guess that if it’s something you’re used to eating, they’d taste great, but the flavor wasn’t familiar enough to be surprisingly good and I couldn’t really forget that I was eating a cricket. Luckily, we hadn’t yet finished our drinks, so we washed it down with something tasty and called ourselves adventurous. It was a hell of a Monday.As always, don’t forget to to follow Woblet on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on the all the latest Woblet news.