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Hacha Bar’s Emma Murphy on creating Britain’s Best Tequila and Mezcal Competition

November 2, 2021 by Joel Davidge

Since opening the original Hacha Bar in London a few years back, owners Deano Moncrieffe and Emma Murphy have championed agave-based spirits and brought them to a wider audience.

Voted Time Out’s 7th Best Cocktail in the World and Cocktail of the Year 2020 at the CLASS Bar Awards, Hacha pairs an ever-changing list of 25 different agave spirits with delicious Mexican dishes from resident kitchen partner Maiz Azul.

After the success of their Best Mezcal and Tequila Cocktail competition in 2019, it was an easy decision to bring the competition back for 2021. We chatted with Emma about all things Tequila, Mezcal, and Hacha.

Tell us a little about Hacha Bar and its history?

We opened in May 2019 in Dalston as a neighbourhood bar with a focus on promoting the agave spirits category.

Deano had worked in luxury Tequila and Mezcal for over a decade and I myself had a more general drinks industry background so together we felt it was the perfect partnership and concept for us and the area.

East London is very open to new things and trends and it felt the right place for us (we also live there which helps!).

We recently opened our second site in Brixton – it has a lot of synergy with Dalston and with a strong community vibe we were attracted to the area for our second home.

Hacha Bar in Dalston London

What gave you the idea of holding the Best Mezcal and Best Tequila Cocktails Competitions?

It’s an emerging and exciting category of spirits over here and bartenders can be very creative with it.

All traditional competitions are single brand focus, so we wanted to take that away and launch something that spanned the category and various flavour profiles that the different brands bring.

What was the process for the competition?

Bartenders from across the UK could choose from a line-up of 12 spirits as their base ingredient and submit a new creation bespoke for the comp.

Our team shortlisted these and with the help of the brand managers and owners we then ended up with our finalists who battled it out in front of industry luminaries in a live final that gave us a top two.

These cocktails were then served to consumers the following night and a public poll crowned the winners. So, a very all-encompassing and democratic process!

25 Agave spirits, on the menu at Hacha Bar in Dalston, London. (c) Hacha Bar / David Ellis

Mezcal and Tequila are growing in popularity around the world. What needs to be done in Britain to allow more people to raise awareness of the potential of these spirits?

I think we are really getting there now – lots of new bars are championing the category and the messaging of Tequila is no longer the nasty spirit shot down with salt and lime!

What makes a good Mezcal or Tequila cocktail?

Good balance and flavours that hero the agave spirit rather than hide it.

A customer in the reflection of the window at Hacha Bar, London (c) Hacha Bar / David Ellis

Apart from Hacha, where do you like to go out for food and drinks?

Sager & Wilde for wine, Beaufort Bar or the Mandrake Hotel for fancy nights, Satan’s Whiskers or Three Sheets for late night cocktails, and The Palomar for the food.

Britain’s Best Tequila Cocktail 2021

The Alma Dorada cocktail recipe by Courtney Francis

The winner of the Tequila competition was Courtney Francis, head bartender at Ojo Rojo Bournemouth.

The cocktail, Alma Dorada, celebrates sustainability in the agave spirit sector.

Find out more

Britain’s Best Mezcal Cocktail 2021

Mayahuel's Gift by Horace Buckenham, winner of Britain’s Best Mezcal Cocktail Competition 2021 at Hacha Bar in London

Bartender Horace Buckenham’s Mayahuel’s Gift takes inspiration from Aztec legends, and combines Cacao Butter Washed Illegal Mezcal with Cynar.

Find out more

Visit Hacha Bar

You can find out more about Emma and Deano’s work at Hacha over on Instagram @hachabar or on their website.

Hacha Bar
378 Kingsland Road
London E8 4AA

Hacha Brixton
12 – 14 Market Row
London SW9 8LD

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