Anna McKie discovers the best place in Brixton to explore the magic of agave alcohol
Sitting upstairs at Hacha in Brixton’s Market Row, my dining partner and I are musing about Brixton’s Mexican restaurants past and present. Jalisco, a Brixton stalwart and one I’ve always enjoyed, is still going, but another favourite, Casa Morita, is gone. When it comes to Mexican comfort food, Wahaca was mercifully replaced by the much better DF Tacos. The rumination on the changes in Brixton market could go on, so, back in the present, is there something that Hacha, which opened in Autumn 2021, has to offer that Brixton hasn’t seen before?
In one word: yes. Hacha specialises in really great tequila and mezcal cocktails. Award-winning even: its Mirror Margarita was voted Time Out’s 7th Best Cocktail in the World and Cocktail of the Year 2020 at the CLASS Bar Awards. Luckily, this drink lives up to the hype.
Disconcertingly at first, the Mirror Margarita looks like you’ve ordered a very nice glass of water that has been placed on a pretty Mexican tile. Yet tasting it, I’ve never had such a smooth margarita. It’s made from either tequila or mezcal, along with hacha’s speciality sour mix, cane syrup, kaffir lime, salt and eucalyptus. While the tequila version is lovely, my partner and I firmly agree the mezcal version is superior. The smokiness of the mezcal stands out beautifully next to the sweeter flavours, making you savour every sip.
The original Hacha was founded in Dalston in 2019 by Deano Moncrieffe and Emma Murphy, who have long championed agave-based spirits. Moncrieffe is also the founder of Equal Measures, a not-for-profit organisation created to support marginalised groups and tackle racism in the hospitality industry. One day a week Hacha closes so Equal Measures can offer training, mentorship and workshops.
Hacha Brixton is on two-levels: downstairs is a bottle shop (where you can pick up a Mirror Margarita to enjoy at home) and bar for tasting their range of tequila, mezcal and some of the other lesser-known spirits made from the agave plant from a list of 25 changes regularly. We sat upstairs in the Agaveria, a bright and relaxed “cocktail lounge area” that also serves food.
And if you are going to be drinking tequila and mezcal, it would be wise to line your stomach. We ordered the guacamole, because I am a millennial and this is 2022, which was deliciously fragrant and came with some delightfully salty fried tortilla chips.
We also ordered the cheese chicharron, which is basically a large, thin piece of fried cheese that you break pieces off and dip into an excellent pico de gallo and red salsa. I’ve not had anything like it before. Although it did remind me of late nights in my first year of university when my housemate and I would forgo the toast element of cheese on toast (had we run out of bread? Did we think we were being healthier by removing the carbs? Who knows, we weren’t exactly sober) and grilled cheese on tin foil in our student oven – except this is much better.
The mains are a choice of tacos – the list made up of their classics and monthly specials – which came in lovely and light corn tortillas. The crispy beef taco – a special – was brilliant, as was the mushroom quesadillas – a classic. I can’t claim to be a true expert in Mexican food, aside from my general love for it, but having recently visited for a second time, these two tacos were the ones that most whisked me back to the food we ate there. The fish tacos – both classic and prawns – were good but not the best I’ve had, perhaps because they were slightly overwhelmed by the additional black beans.
The portion sizes aren’t huge, but certainly enough to keep you full. Prices for each dish (the tacos come in twos) ran from £7 to £9, but on Tuesdays you can get three tacos and a mirrorless margarita for £20.
For me, Hacha is a great addition to Brixton’s Mexican offerings. The perfect place to sip a delicious, but unusual margarita or to dip your toes into the wonderful world of mezcal. It’s certainly wise to accompany these spirits with food, even if just a few snacks, and, again, Hacha has got just what you need.
12 – 14 Market Row SW9 8LD | hachabar.com | 020 3754 3884