Published on September 1st, 2014 | by Gavin1
El Nivel Agaveria, Covent Garden
Summary: A hidden gem that will gain in popularity over time
Tequila is the new Skoda. A product once seen as cheap, tacky, and a telltale sign that you’d fallen on hard times; it has reinvented itself in the past few years into somewhat of a prestigious spirit thanks largely to clever marketing and the growth of luxury Mexican restaurants enlightening us Brits on how tequila is enjoyed across the Atlantic.
Having taken a keen interest in the growth of boutique tequila and its lesser known agave based cousin mezcal; my ears pricked up when I heard about El Nivel, a self proclaimed Agaveria in Covent Garden; so naturally I had to pay a visit.
Just to give you a quick lesson, the agave plant is the base ingredient for tequila and mezcal; and only agave plants grown in Mexico can be used in the production for both. The relationship between tequila and mezcal can be described as like the difference between Prince William and Harry. Tequila is highly regulated, regal and only be made from the finest blue agave, whereas mezcal can be made from any agave plant, has very few laws to abide by, locals can relate much more to it, and homemade batches are common.
And that brings me on to El Nivel. The bar is located above La Perla on Covent Garden’s Maiden Lane, and it’s dedicated to all things tequila and mezcal; stacked to the brim with essential brands for sipping neat, cocktails, and of course, shooters. And if you need credentials, the venue is owned by father and son duo Tomas and Jesse Estes, whom also own renowned tequila brand Ocho. As well as the drinks, there is a food menu with an impressive number of tapas style dishes for a bar with space only for around 30 seated guests.
At first, the menu looks intimidating as it contains a host of ingredients that would test the knowledge of most who have only a passing interest in cocktail drinking. But don’t fear, the descriptions are reassuringly self explanatory, and the atmosphere is so relaxed that you wouldn’t feel intimidated to ask anyone close by what they are drinking. Recommended cocktails include the sweet Mezcal Fix with London owned mezcal brand QuiQuiRiQui and pineapple syrup; and for those who want something a bit different, the Durango Gimlet with Ocho tequila and homemade grapefruit cordial is a delight.
Along with the drinks, the tapas are a delight and there is hardly a fault with anything on the menu. The pork belly with teriyaki sauce had me licking my fingers and demanding a second helping, however if surf rather than turf is your thing, then the Coctel de Marisco seafood cocktail in sangrita sauce with mini homemade crackers is heavenly. The Tostadas de Atun ‘Luzia’ with yellowfin tuna and toasted hazelnut sauceis also a solid shout if you love a good tortilla dish.
Having only opened a few months ago, El Nivel is still a hidden gem that will undoubtedly gain in popularity over the next year and beyond as the tequila craze steamrolls on, so get down sooner rather than later while still in its unspoilt state.
El Nivel, 28 Alto Maiden Lane, WC2E 7JSShare This Post