Out & About – Chihuahua Bar Take Two

By The Gentleman and The Lady

You have probably noticed by now that we like to go out to bars, but we don’t do reviews per se. Instead we just recommend and comment on the things we drink. That means we can quite easily visit the places we like several times and try different things (poor us) and tell you about it. It’s for this reason that we decided to revisit Peel Street’s resident Mexican hole in the wall Chihuahua Bar to sample some more fine Mexican Cocktails.

Image courtesy of the Chihuahua Bar Facebook page

If you didn’t read about our first visit you can check it out here. Basically we are quite big fans of the fun, kitschy decor and that hasn’t changed second time around. This visit we decided on something a little less crazy than the fresh fruit bombs, although it was hard not to get one because they were so good last time! We opted for a pretty classic tequila cocktail, the Paloma, and a Mexican twist on a favourite of ours, the Negroni, which was called a Rosita. Both of the drinks used Jose Cuervo Tradicional tequila and were pretty damn delicious, and eye-catching, in their own way.

Paloma

The Paloma

The Paloma mixes the tequila with lime and grapefruit soda, giving it a really nice pale pinky orange colour. The drink was surprisingly still and not as sweet as we were expecting. You hear soda and immediately think super sweet, but this had a really nice tangy, sourness to it and basically the grapefruit soda cuts the real booziness of the tequila so you can actually realise, “ha, this is what tequila tastes like”. The Rosita replaces the Negroni’s gin with tequila, but keeps the Antica Formula and Campari so it still has that amazing bright red colour. Being a Mexican twist on the Negroni it had its own flavour, with the tequila showing up nicely the same way a good gin does in a Negroni. The drink had a gorgeous aroma of oranges from the big orange peel that was just heavenly. There also seemed to be a touch less bitterness in the Rosita, compared to a traditional Negroni, but there’s still a great blend of flavours.

Rosita

Rosita – Chihuahua’s Mexican take on a Negroni

We reckon both of these drinks would be the perfect accompaniment to some Mexican food and and it was probably the only thing missing, some great food that we could wash down with the already fantastic cocktails. We are pretty sure we overhead that food may feature in the future and we hope that’s true. A Paloma, a Rosita, salty corn chips and some guacamole and you’ve got yourself a damn good time!

 

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On The Shelf – Garage Project La Calavera Catrina

By The Gentleman

La Calavera Catrina

Today is International Beer Day so it only makes sense that we do a post about a beer. International Beer Day takes place on the first Friday of August and naturally it is a time to celebrate all things beer. It was also the perfect excuse to revisit the quirky and flavoursome beers being put out by New Zealand’s Garage Project brewery and try their blonde lager, the La Calavera Catrina.

 

(L) Day of the Dead (R) La Calavera Catrina

(L) Day of the Dead (R) La Calavera Catrina

In a lot of respects the La Calavera Catrina is the sister beer to the Day of the Dead Black Lager. Not only do they both utilise the Mexican influenced design for their label, with the La Calavera Catrina is even holding a sugar skull very similar to the one on the Day of the Dead Black Lager, but the white of the La Calavera Catrina label really contrasts with the black of the Day of the Dead. I like that when you place them together the dominant colouring of their label hints at the beer inside with the black of the Day of the Dead hinting towards the dark, intense beer inside while the white label of the La Calavera Catrina hints at the clean, crisp, pure blonde beer inside. Personally I think I prefer the La Calavera Catrina label because I am a sucker for girls and tattoos. The artwork is just absolutely stunning. The fine details of the tattoos and the skull painting on her face certainly make her look like a Lady of Death. If I could get a picture of her framed I would. The Day of the Dead and the La Calavera Catrina are not only related in design, but also in their dominant flavour.

La Calavera Catrina

The La Calavera Catrina is brewed with maize. I think it is safe to say this is the first time I’ve had a beer made with maize. It pours with a decent head and the drink is a very clear golden colour. In the description it lists the main flavours as organic habaneros, rose water and watermelon. The habaneros are definitely the dominant flavour. They give the drink a bold, fiery chili heat that leaves your whole mouth and the back of your throat tingling. At first I thought the chili was too overpowering, habaneros are definitely not a lightweight chili and the chili aftertaste is present for a long time, but as I drank more of the beer I really started to pick up on the watermelon. It is a really subtle flavour that exists as the very top note of the beer. When you taste it you get this fresh, fruitiness that helps to pave the way for the chili heat. The clarity of the beer transfers over to the taste. It has a very clean, crisp finish with very little bitterness that feels quite light despite the fact that it has a 6.9% ABV. A few of these longnecks and you’d be well on your way to a big night.

La Calavera Catrina

With the intense chili flavour and deceptive alcohol volume the La Calavera Catrina is a beer, as the bottle suggests, not to be taken lightly. It packs a whole lot of flavour into a very pleasing package. International Beer Day is designed to celebrate beer and Garage Project’s La Calavera Catrina is certainly a fine example of brewing that deserves to be celebrated, both for its delightful flavour and enticing packaging.

La Calavera Catrina

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On The Shelf – Garage Project Day of the Dead Black Lager

By The Gentleman

 

Australia is constantly stealing things from New Zealand and claiming them for our own. Actor Russel Crowe, racehorse Phar Lap, band Crowded House and delicious dessert Pavlova all stolen from New Zealand and promoted as Australian successes. It’s kind of part of Australia’s identity as a nation. Both Australia and New Zealand are going through a craft beer and spirits revival at the moment and I wouldn’t be surprised if Australia tries to claim a few New Zealand brewers or distillers as their own. It’s what we do. Who knows, maybe New Zealand’s Garage Project with their super experimental nano brews and stylish packaging might be the one worth claiming.

Day of the Dead

The Garage Project nano brewery is located in Aro Valley, Wellington, New Zealand. They focus on really small brewing, hence the designation as a nano brewery. By being small Garage Project is able to experiment and be more flexible with their production to accommodate interesting mixes like the Day of the Dead Black Lager. It may not be listed as part of their philosophy but cool label design also appears to be important to Garage Project. As you would expect the Day of the Dead label features the skulls or sugar skulls that are so ubiquitous with the celebration. Obviously the skull suits the name of the beer perfectly yet the whole focus on the Day of the Dead is really a good extension of the beer’s basis on the Aztec beverage xocolatl. The skull just really enhances the Latin American vibe of the beer. I also appreciate the fact that, to me at least, the eyes look like hop plants. They haven’t just stuck any old skull on there, they’ve designed it so it resonates with the fact that this is a beer. The use of the skull makes the bottle look quite impressive. It’s a big longneck bottle that’s a quite dark amber colour and you’re eyes are just drawn to this white skull. It really stands out against the colour of the bottle and the rest of the label.

Day of the Dead

Described as a true celebration of the dark side the Day of the Dead Black Lager is a strong black lager inspired by the Aztec beverage xocolatl, “a bitter, frothy, spicy drink” combining cocoa and chili. The drink is brewed with smoked chipotle chili, refermented with organic blue agave syrup (the basis of Tequila) and conditioned over raw cocoa nibs. Garage Project describe the Day of the Dead as “rich and dark… smooth and drinkable with a complex mix of smoke, chocolate and restrained chili heat.” Not surprisingly the beer was first released on on November 1, El Día de los Muertos – Mexico’s Day of the Dead.

Day of the Dead

I have to say that this is one of the most accurate flavour descriptions I’ve ever come across. Ever note they highlight I was picking up on. The beer pours a deep black with a lot of head that is a quite dark brown, tan sort of colour. It looks and smells very reminiscent of a stout its that dark yet without the overly yeasty flavour profile. Drinking it you are hit with those three big flavours of smoke, bitter chocolate and spicy heat from the chilies. Taking just a little sip you get more of the bitter chocolate taste at first and a mild chili aftertaste. Take a big gulp and you get this really smoky flavour with a n intensely potent chili heat in your mouth that lingers pleasantly for sometime after you’ve finished. It gives your mouth this really enjoyable tingle. Unlike a Guinness, which many people regard as a meal in itself, the Day of the Dead Black Lager feels a lot lighter. It goes down very smooth despite being a relatively strong beer at 6.7% ABV. It doesn’t taste beery or leave a strong alcohol taste at all, instead you just get that really pleasant mix of smokiness and chilli spice that makes it very drinkable.

Day of the Dead

Knocking back a bottle of the Day of the Dead Black Lager I definitely think Garage Project is something Australia should be looking to claim and that’s like the ultimate compliment from an Australian right? Seriously this is one tasty beer that is full of strong, potent flavours that really kick your tastebuds into overdrive. My mouth is watering for that pleasant, smoky spicyness just thinking about it. Well played New Zealand, well played.

Day of the Dead

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