19-23 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RL, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)207 323 342
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Wed 5pm-11:30pm, Thu-Sat 5pm-12:30am
Door: Open door
Style: Tasting House
Recommended for: Spirits
Price guide: Middling
Food: Bar snacks
Images By: Mezcaleria
Wahaca has taken over the former Bertorelli's on Charlotte Street for its eighth site and turned it into a mammoth temple to mezcal. With La Perla just two doors away (they can't be too happy) that makes Charlotte Street suddenly disproportionately focused on Mexican food and drink. Wahaca has gradually been devoting more space in its venues to dedicated bars, and with this new site it's gone even further with an overt tribute not just to tequila, but to the mother-spirit of mezcal.
Head to the first floor of the site where you'll find a selection of 26 mezcals ahead of 12 tequilas - the list curated by Nick Strangeway and Henry Besant. There's a short list of mezcal-based cocktails, where the intensity of the spirit is tamed with the likes of elderflower, tea and seasonal fruits, but we'd recommend simply sitting at the bar - or in one of the large 'bird cage' chairs hanging from the ceiling - and asking for a short flight to Oaxaca. Helpful and informed bartenders will happily choose three or four contrasting mezcals and talk you through how each one is made.
Dressed in its primary colours and quirky urban decor, Wahaca is a long way from Oaxaca itself, but taking mezcal to the masses like this is impressive - some might say courageous. Wahaca has already done much to promote tequila as a sipping, not shooting, spirit (it shouts this on the menu), and the chain will arguably do more to teach drinkers about mezcal, about what it is and how it differs from tequila than any independent bar. What's annoying is that you can't access the full menu upstairs, and if you want to eat more than guacamole and chips you'll have to settle your bill and go downstairs.