Open Wide and Say Agave
Here is another piece from our friend thehandoftamm, this time writing about Reposado in another watering hole adventure.
Following in a soon-to-be-familiar path, I write about the latest in the new series of field trips to themed watering holes. The target for this occasion was Reposado, a tequila bar on Ossington, between Queen and Dundas. I had invited out thehandoftamm señor and we once again put our palates on the line with hopes that the cactus juice might rise above the forged papers at Pravda.
Being that it’s Ossington, in the heart of New Bohemia, we chose a Monday night at promptly opening time to make sure we didn’t need to break into any social scenery and risk being ejected for our unstudied squareness. Thankfully Reposado requires little cred and doesn’t slouch in the way of Sweaty Betty’s, The Communist’s Daughter, or the Dakota. Heck, Reposado even has a sign out front so you know that you’ve found the place you were supposed to meet your friends! OK, signage is evident at the other places as well these days. This is still my story.
We enter at promptly 8:05, minutes after opening and are very nearly the first customers. The only other person in is a photographer, who is taking shots of the patio for some unknown purpose. (A magazine, perhaps? She’s interested in the design of the patio but doesn’t take any shots of the interior so it’s not a profile on the bar itself, presumably.) We sit and hope not to intrude on her composition. Said patio is unassumingly appointed with simple teak tables and chairs as well as a couple of cushioned stools. There’s a trellis that awaits the further development of vines planted below.
The menu comes and we’re impressed that three-quarters of it is devoted to the descriptions of their 30+ tequilas. Most interestingly, they have organized their sampling menu into ‘flights’. If I have this right, Vertical Flights are composed of the same type of tequila from different distillers and Horizontal Flights are different types from the same distiller. When asked about the distinction by the table next to ours, the waiter replies with a question of whether the customers would like to walk out or be carried out. I think he’s delivered this line about a thousand times before but he still pulls it off like a pro.
Deciding to hop a jet to cruising altitude, we opt for the 4Copas Flight, which promises a blanco, a reposado, and a anejo from this relatively young distillery that bottles the first certified organic tequilas. The blanco was named Tequila of the Year by a boozy magazine in 2006 and the reposado was honoured with a gold medal of some sort in the same. Never mind these details, you can look them up yourself!
Presentation does count and our tequilas arrive on little metal trays that look like they could be carrying sterilized surgical instruments. Nice. The waiter suggests we start with the blanco and work our way to the anejo; youngest to oldest. We also order the tequila-marinated salmon and chorizo with tapenade from the smallish tapas menu, which consists of some five choices. This is certainly a place to come drink, not dine. Suits me to the ground.
We start in on the blanco and are greeted by a gentle spirit which has no burn and doesn’t display any of that medical quality associated with many bar rail tequilas. We’re off to an already great start when the food arrives. The rectangular white plates are not only attractively arranged but generously proportioned. The pickled spicy veggies immediately appeal and we snack while talking about spiral staircases and allotment gardens, for no particular reason. Note that we’re talking, a feat nearly impossible at that vodka bar from a few weeks back.
Our second tequila, the Reposado, promises peppery notes and a scotch-like demeanor with gentle agave. The first reaction is truly one of heavy pepper, which settles into a gentle flame that’s a shadow of the tire fire tequilas you may have had in the past. I don’t taste the scotch but yes, another highly potable offering.
We’re still eating chorizo and salmon, now with talk of current trends in cinema and cottaging and child-rearing. In the background, the sounds of clarinet waft through and we wonder if it’s coming from the above apartments that face the patio. It’s most pleasant and somewhat klezmer-like and an unexpected treat as a soundtrack to our drinking. Only later do we discover the music is actually being made by a trio playing in the front window of the bar. Being on the back patio, we’ve missed out on the show but liked its effect out back nonetheless.
Completing our triple-play is the Anejo, the darkest of the bunch and packing the most punch. A piñata has erupted in my mouth, spilling its treasures everywhere. Full marks. We still haven’t managed to polish off the ample food so we order a couple of margaritas, to see how they stack up. You can measure a lot about a bar by the way it does a drink like this. Most places make over-sweet slushy numbers with barely any tequila taste. Reposado makes a nice, tart drink that’s plenty refreshing but, unfortunately, is served in a tall, frosted glass that hides what the drink looks like and is as slender as a bud vase, forcing one to use a straw. That’s a misstep that’s minor enough not to cast any shadow over the otherwise enchanting experience. At the same time, I recommend this be changed on principle!
All this time the photographer has kept snapping, with only occasional breaks for food and drink. She and her companion make or take telephone calls every few minutes, which is only vaguely annoying. Thankfully they’re not loud talkers but still! -we shouldn’t all have to watch you work the phones like it’s a pledge drive. Some people.
We come out onto the now-beginning-to-crowd Ossington. It’s 10:00pm so the core audience is just getting out of bed and onto the patios. We make the walk to Bloor and go our respective ways, happy that our themed excursion has once again yielded something well apart from the already familiar. How long can we wait before setting off on another expedition to ever more exotic drinking diversions and culinary counterpoints?
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