Tequilas at El Carmen in L.A. (David Tobin/Living Out Loud LA)
On Saturday, El Carmen brought together another afternoon of tequila tasting from some of the best known and respected manufactures in Mexico. The restaurant has been a Los Angeles staple since I can remember and is located on 3rd and just west of Crescent Hts.
The dark rectangular luchadore mask lined venue was lined with vendors at every table. Starting at the far end was the start for what was to be a very educational afternoon. Some of the highlights include 1921, like most are aged in oak barrels. These guys used flamethrowers to roast theirs so that already put them on my radar. The options ran the usual gambit… Reposado, Añejo, Blanco. They even have another one that is thrown over ice and tastes like Horchata. It’s their competition with the Patron Café and other infused options for a sweeter palate.
1921 stood out because it had a nice balance. It tasted like the fruit and wasn’t complicated.
De Leon was launched by P. Daddy. It was hyped on “Entourage” and put out to compete with with Patron. Another over hyped tequila. De Leon comes in around $60 at most places because the bottle costs so much to make. It doesn’t really offer any kind of amazing taste and with so many authentic options it would be foolish to give them your cash. Sorry Vinnie.
Mala Noche’ was featured and had an excellent Reposado, with lots of flavor and didn’t really have much bite. It’s nice to find more smooth options when dealing with such an aggressive liquor. This one is around the $40 range and pretty easy to find.
The best of the night goes to one of my favorites, Fortaleza. This hits the mark across the board and rests in the same price range at under $50 for the good stuff. It’s smooth, you can taste the fruit and the wood in each. It sounds cool to say and it’s the best example of tequila for the dollar.
The food to help keep things from going south of sober was perfect. This spot isn’t only known because it has over 400 tequilas, but that the food is perfect. It’s truly Mexican food and not over priced. It’s not fancy; it’s just good. Traditional plates complimented the offerings and when you go, try the shrimp tacos, mole and guacamole. It’s a perfect date spot or joint to hang out with your friends.
Good music and the best tequila offering in that part of town is El Carmen. While there, be sure to ask about their next tasting. It’s three hours of pure awesome.