Introducing: Robyn Evans, Drinks Distilled Tequila Guide
We caught up with Spirits Guide Robyn Evans to hear more about her tequila selections and top tips when it comes to picking and serving this delicious spirit, native to Mexico.
Robyn has been working at the top of the hospitality scene for over a decade, firstly in her native New York, before working her way up through London’s restaurant and bar scene to be one of the most well known faces of the industry.
In addition to being on the opening team for some incredible bars including Fare and Jason Atherton’s Sosharu, she’s been Head Bartender for a number of venues including The Edition Hotel, leading the lobby bar to a Spirited Awards nomination.
She’s also a competition veteran including being the first female global winner for the Gin Mare and was also the global winner for Harvey’s Sherry.
Currently, she's focusing on her love of agave spirits as the Group Bars Manager at the renowned Hacha Agavaria which has been crowned UK Specialist Bar of the Year this year.
Why did you select El Tequileno Blanco and Olmeca Altos Añejo?
Olmeca Altos Añejo is a perfect example of an añejo tequila. A good añejo will show characteristics of the ageing process in the barrel - an amber colour, woodiness, spice and a touch of vanilla will usually be present. Olmeca Altos Añejo is aged for 18 months in ex-bourbon barrels and as a result has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel and vanilla, almond, and caramel flavours with a woody, black pepper finish. The nose is an incredibly appetising chocolate orange with hints of apricot and roasted agave. It’s versatile too as it’s great on its own for sipping neat or on the rocks, but also works well in classic cocktails that call for a rich, dark spirit.
El Tequileño is one of my favourite blanco tequilas and features on the menu at both Hacha locations. It’s smooth, light and flavourful, making it perfect for both sipping or cocktails and a great gateway tequila for newbies to the category. A great blanco tequila will have notable cooked agave notes that are clean and subtle as it’s unaged, matched with either more floral or vegetal top notes, depending on where the agaves were grown, and sometimes a peppery finish. Light and fresh, this is a great example of a blanco tequila and has an extra citrusy brightness at the front of the palate as well as pear flavours, balanced out by a vegetal grassy note, with a subtle black pepper finish.
What are the most common misconceptions people have about tequila?
Most people have a bad relationship with mixto tequila because for so long not very good examples of the category were all that was available in the UK.
It’s often unfairly associated with terrible hangovers! Because a mixto tequila isn’t classified as 100% agave people sometimes assume that means it’s not high quality but that’s not necessarily true.
El Tequileño uses 70% agave in their mixto and blend it with a high quality liquid ensuring the final result is delicious and still well made with the same care as their other 100% agave tequilas.
What are your top tips for picking tequila?
It’s always easy to fall into the trap of discounted or lower priced items if you’re not familiar with something you’re purchasing. However I would recommend avoiding discounted items in the supermarket and shop at a specialist spirits shop if you’re able to.
The most commonly stocked tequila brands at supermarkets and off licenses aren’t necessarily the best quality, further perpetuating a misunderstanding of how delicious tequila is!
Where is your favourite place to enjoy a tequila cocktail?
Of course my favourite place to have a tequila cocktail would be Hacha! As an agavaria, there is so much choice for tequilas and agave spirits to try, and the cocktail list only features tequila and other agave based cocktails. I know I’m biased but sitting at the bar there when the sun is still shining through the windows is such a perfect moment for a tequila cocktail sundowner.
What’s your top home bartending tip?
Always use lots of ice, and most kitchen items can substitute bar kit when you need them to! It’s important to use lots of ice so the cocktail is always super cold and not over diluted. Measuring spoons or egg cups make great jigger replacements, and in a pinch a coffee keep cup or a jar can be used as a shaker.