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Meet One of the Biggest Names in Tequila as Tomas Estes Comes to Leeds for an Exclusive Tasting & Food Pairing

· Ali Turner · Food and Drink

Tequila, tacos and a sit down with a living legend – get tickets while you can.

Chida Cantina Tequila Tasting

Mexico has arrived in Leeds! Introducing Chida, a vibrant bar where you can eat tacos and sup margaritas into the early hours. Check it out for yourself.

He’s a legend in the industry, recognised by the Mexican National Tequila Chamber, and he’s coming to Leeds…

Over the last 6 months, Chida Cantina has organised a string of exclusive tequila tastings and food pairings. So far, they’ve brought a mix of brand ambassadors and distillers to Leeds, but this time they’ve gone one step further by bagging an industry legend. Tomas Estes is one of the biggest names in the tequila trade – and he’s coming to Leeds on Wednesday 20th September 2017.

Estes is one of just two Tequila Ambassadors for the Mexican Government worldwide and has been named ‘Ambassador to Europe for Tequila’ twice by the Mexican National Tequila Chamber. Those are big accolades, but you’re probably wondering why, and the answer demands that we go back a fair few years. You see, Estes began his career as a dishwasher, a humble start that saw him working his way up until eventually he opened his own Mexican restaurant. It was here that he discovered his love of tequila – from buying it, drinking it and mixing it into a medley of classic cocktails.

This was over 40 years ago. He opened his first restaurant in 1976, following it with another in London in 1982. He now owns a network of 18 restaurants across England, Holland, France, Germany, Italy and Australia.

“I realised that tequila was a really important part of my Mexican restaurant concept, so I started studying tequila, learning as much as I could about it. I went to Mexico, I went to the distilleries, and then having learned a lot about it, I started speaking at bar shows and writing articles for trade journals, and became a central figure in the tequila industry,” Estes explained. But he’s not just an expert, his knowledge opened doors for him and soon he found himself working with another tequila legend.

“About eleven or twelve years ago, I was invited by a tequila producer called Carlos Camarena to do a tequila with him. We decided to bring a tequila to market that had the maximum flavour of the agave, that was our goal and that’s what we did. And once we created that, we set ourselves another goal, which was to bring to market single vineyards and expressions of that tequila. We call them ranches instead of vineyards, we say single ranches, so one plot of land at a time, and so far, we have done 18 different ones that are like wines – they are similar to the others, yet completely different.”

Their collaboration created what is now believed to be one of the best tequila brands in the world – Tequila Ocho. And you’ll have a chance to try it when Estes comes to Leeds, because he’s bringing three of their most popular labels, each of which will be coupled with one of Chida’s famous Mexican street food dishes.

You’ll be taking a leaf out of Estes’ book, “I suggest people sip and savour tequila, good tequilas rather than shotting it, and I encourage them to drink it in a well-mixed cocktail or mixed drink.” So you’ll start with the Tommy’s Margarita, a classic cocktail made with a simple mix of Ocho Blanco Tequila, agave syrup and lime juice. The citrus twang of the drink has been paired with their Topotos. These are not your average nachos, you’ll get a mix of yellow corn, chipotle and cactus tortilla chips, topped with pico de gallo, guacamole and their house mole.

Then it’s time sip it straight. First up is Ocho Blanco. Unaged and made with 100% blue agave, it’s a full-flavoured white tequila that’s a million miles away from the drinks you’ve been necking at the end of a night on the town. Drink it slowly while you work your way through a plate of Pescado Tacos. The subtle flavours of the Baja fish, coupled with avocado, lime-infused red cabbage and lime aioli are perfectly balanced with this easy drinking tequila.

Next, you’ll have a chance to try their Reposado. It’s aged in ex-American whiskey barrels for 8 weeks and 8 days, giving it a much deeper flavour. That depth requires something a little more complex in the food department, so they’ll be serving up their Chida al Pastor Tacos, which come topped with pork belly, caramelised pineapple and ni pek (that’s Mayan salsa to you and me).

Finally, you’ll end the night on a high – the Ocho Single Barrel Anejo. It’s aged for 12 months in ex-American whiskey barrels, bringing out lovely vanilla notes in the drink – so of course, they’re serving it with dessert, in the form of Tres Leches Cake. This rich, creamy sponge cake is soaked in three kinds of milk – evaporated milk, condensed milk and double cream – making it the perfect partner for their whiskey-esque anejo tequila.

All through the night, Estes will tell you tales of his days behind the bar, in the distillery and of course, drinking the tequila, a spirit that he believes really does make you happy. “Because of the chemical make-up of the raw material, the agave, it translates into the bottle with a spirit that’s full of energy and it assimilates into our body in a very healthy, easy metabolic way,” Estes enthused. “It’s full of energy and full of fun, so there are lots and lots of stories in my own restaurants and in Mexico, and around the world of tequila bringing this really fun, party life atmosphere, so there are lots of really crazy stories that I can tell on the evening when we will be in Leeds.”

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Chida Cantina

Credit: Elouisa Georgiou

It’s going to be an incredible, one-off night – and you can be there. But you’ll have to be quick because there are just 26 tickets up for grabs and they will sell out fast. Tickets are usually £20, but you can get £10 off with the code LASTCHANCE.