Tucked away on Snickel Lane, is Auckland's first Mezcal and wine bar. Pop your head inside and you'll find a small space with a simplistic, modern design and an impressive selection of wines and spirits. On second look, you'll notice the spirits are foreign and unfamiliar. That's because owner, and trained sommelier, Edmundo Farrera is one of the country's first importers of premium and artisan Mezcal.
What is Mezcal you ask? Well, let me explain. Mezcal is a distilled spirit made from agave, with similarities to Tequila. The difference being that Tequila is traditionally made from steamed agave, while Mezcal is roasted and distilled in small batches. Upon tasting the spirit you'll notice that it has a complex smoky flavour. In fact, Edmundo says there are three main components that make Mezcal – power, smokiness and earthiness. "It's one of the most alcoholic drinks on the market but it's one of the purest things on the market. There are no fertilisers, nothing is involved. These plants are resilient – they grow from a tiny little bean to a 30 year old monster" he says. He also tells my friend and I that he can easily, and without implications, drink two bottles in an evening.
The menu offers a tantalising array of small plates from Marinated Olives to Mezcal Cured Salmon Tostaditas. I recommend partaking in the full Mezcal experience. Sounds interesting? It is. You'll be given five Mezcals to taste, including a run-down on each one, and five small plates to match. Not only is it fascinating, it's also unequivocally delicious. "It's a bar but I'm a foodie as well and people are loving it" Edmundo proudly mentions. Cue an exquisite dish of squid ink crackling topped with octopus, buffalo curd and samphire.
Edmundo has carefully selected the Mezcals that line his shelves. He talks about each one with respect, passion and knowledge. The third Mezcal of the evening, Montelobos, is one of the big names in the industry. The maker has a PHD in horticulture in the UK "If you want to think about wine – there are a lot of similarities between wine and Mezcal – he would be like a Bordeaux producer" says Edmundo. "It's a full-bodied Mezcal, it's very smoky, it has lots of green chillies, but it's very refined as well." Interestingly, it is one of the stronger tastings, but the alcohol less apparent. A combination of smoky and sweet, it's a sensational pairing with the Mezcal Cured Salmon Tostaditas.
An evening at La Fuente is an evening well spent. This little bar exists purely to provide enjoyment, and to spread the word about this Mexican spirit. Edmundo says that he's not here to make money, he's here to stay. Find a person more passionate about Mezcal than Edmundo, and the next drink's on me.
La Fuente Wine & Mezcal
23 Customs Street East,
Seven days a week, 11am till late