Underneath the streets of Liverpool hides a tequila sanctuary that goes by the name of El Bandito. It is to its many followers a sanctum that provides you with a truly unique night time experience for novices and nobles alike. El Bandito is only small, but indefinitely packs a big punch. Offering a range of tequila classics with their personal and imaginative twists. Chilli Beef Margarita for example, try it, it's much nicer than it sounds!
Situated under ground, beneath the sticky floor cocktail haven of Santa Chupito's, the shoe box bar is lined with home made tiles just like you'd find in a Mexican mothers kitchen. Featuring a back wall shrine full of hand sourced tequila infusions, a hand scribed cocktail menu, giving the impression everything is done to hand and rightly so.
Below is a short Q&A with General Manager Danny McNeill. So, get yourself down to El Bandito soon. Through the steel door on the left of Slater St, down the spiralled steps, past the curtain into the tequila cave. It's great but just try and get out in one piece!
I'm sure a few people's first thoughts of tequila is the consumsion of cheap, stomach burning, white spirit accompanied with a lemon and salt. An experience that they won't want to remember. What's different about the tequila in El Bandito.. And how do you serve your shots?
All the Tequila we sell in El Bandito, is 100% Agave Tequila. Now what that means is the Tequila is made from only the fermented juices of the Agave plant. The Agave plant grows wild all over Mexico, and this is what is used to produce Tequila. A lot of companies blend sugar into their production to bring costs down. Agave can be pretty expensive, so it happens a lot. However, only ever drink 100% agave Tequila if you want the true taste of Mexico, and no hangover!
We have a wide variety of accompaniments for shots of Tequila. I never really liked the lemon and salt combination, so I thought why not give people flavours they like? I.e. orange & cinnamon, coconut & pineapple, spiced tomato. It helps those 'non-believers' take there first few steps towards tequila enlightenment.
Recently I believe you went on a pilgrimage to Mexico? Recreation and business rolled into one! Briefly what did you see and learn over there?
I already had a good knowledge of Tequila, but we were opening a fully fledged Tequila bar, so we had to get to know it from the ground up. We took a trip to Mexico and were very fortunate to meet a lot of the big movers and shakers in the industry. They told us what Tequila meant to them and their families. Its much more than just a spirit there. Its the whole embodiment of Mexico, a life blood almost. Everything is centered around it. We had some good times there, and drank a lot of Tequila! This only drove my passion more to get people aware of Tequila.
Yes we are a Tequila bar, and we know the stigma that comes attached with it. Dirty shots and even worse hangovers. But its not like that. We are here to educate people, and get them drinking great spirts and cocktails. We regularly hold talks on Tequila, and are very passionate about getting people to change their perceptions about it.
Do you have a favourite cocktail?
My favourite cocktail has to be the the Margarita. One of the best ways to drink tequila by far, and perfect any time of day. If you've never tried one, you need to come and speak to us asap.
What ever happened to the dentist chair?! Some of us are still recovering. Maybe I've answered my own question?
The Dentist Chair is having a break at the moment. You can't have too much of a good thing.
And finally, what's El Bandito got in store for us in 2013?
2013 we will be opening the bar on more weekdays, a lot more partying, and maybe a return of The Dentist Chair. We've been overwhelmed with the support for our bar, even getting worldwide recognition. The only way is up, we hope to be ruining livers for a long time.
If you like what you read and see, this article was featured in the Weavers Door Journal Issue 2, more can be found here.