Mexican mezcals and top-end tequilas
A livid mural of a green tiger battling a giant Chinese serpent, sprawled across whitewashed brick on the upper floor of 72 Courtyard, announces the location of Touché Hombre. Like it’s mother branch in Melbourne, Touché Hombre is the brainchild of style-meister Davis Yu, owner and founder of three Melbourne restaurants and design studio Maison Davis. Sebastian De La Cruz, the man behind the tiki-inspired cocktails at Uncle manages the bar’s weighty tequila and mezcal archive.
Mezcal, a little-understood Mexican relative of tequila, is well represented with more than 20 behind the bar and more on the way. We started with a flight of three mezcals (B1125) produced by the venerable Del Maguey label. Like all true mezcals, they’ve come from village distilleries where burros—not machines—crush baked agave hearts to produce agave extract, which is then boiled and distilled into mezcal.
De La Cruz says around 90 percent of all mezcals are made from the agave espadin, as is the first sample in the flight. The clear, colourless liquor bears the smoky, slightly sweet profile of many fine mezcals I’ve enjoyed in Mexico City. The second mezcal, made with agave salmiana, is the smoothest of the three. Its fresh, citrusy—yet unmistakably agave—flavours could lead a blind taster to mistake it for tequila, so this is a good one for mezcal beginners. The third, squeezed out of agave cenizo, presents a strongly herbal, woody flavour, and is definitely this flight’s most unique discovery.
For his tequila and mezcal cocktails, De La Cruz aims not to challenge drinkers, but to give them drinks that are full of flavour yet easy to appreciate. The Margarita del Tommy (B275) is a dangerously smooth cocktail that mixes El Jimador Resposado with lime juice and agave syrup. The latter takes the place of the Triple Sec or Cointreau found in most other margaritas.
My favorite of the evening is the La Condesa (B259), a drink inspired by the Manhattan, in which bourbon is replaced with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal and El Jimador Reposado. Meanwhile red vermouth and grenadine are joined by Cynar, an artichoke-based bittersweet liqueur that goes well with agave liquors.
Among the several Mexican-inspired dishes our table raved about was Fundito del Touché (B300), a luscious blend of Mexican cheeses, fresh oregano, roasted chile pasilla, and fresh habanero, baked to bubbling perfection. Also amazing was Oven-roasted kingfish (B695) marinated in achiote paste and served with grilled lime, charred chile pasilla, pickled tomatillos and an achiote dipping sauce.
Finally the Taco al Pastor (B225), made with top-quality roast local pork belly folded into a homemade corn tortilla with achiote-chile sauce, pineapple chunks, and onions, was easily one of the best tacos I’ve ever eaten anywhere on the planet.
Level 1, 72 Courtyard (Sukhumvit Soi 55)
Tel: 02 392 7760
Open: Open daily: 6pm-1am (Fri-Sat till 2am)