55. La Capilla – Tequila, Mexico

Cocktail – Batanga
Tequila blanco, Mexican cola, salt, lime

Date Visited – Dec 2015

A trip to Tequila isn’t complete without a visit to this bar, and it was the prime reason for my trip to Mexico. The bar is legendary for two reasons, the Batanga, and the bartender who created it – Don Javier Delgado. Now in his nineties, time was ticking for this one, he’s already semi-retired! No longer to be found behind the bar, he’s handed those reins to his nephew Arron, but he’s still a prominent figure on the days he feels up to it. La Capilla means Chapel, it’s a friendly neighbourhood bar located a couple of blocks from the main square. I rushed straight there as soon as I arrived in town, dragging a newly befriended Frenchman with me! Don Javier’s spot in the corner was unfortunately empty though, served by Arron I ordered the Batanga and was given Guest Book Number three to sign. It’s a refreshing drink on a hot day, with Mexican Coca Cola that’s a little lacking in fizz, which suits me. There’s no English spoken so conversation was limited, but I established that Don Javier was expected the following day between 2-5pm. Hasta manana!

Day 2 – After a visit to the Fortaleza and Arette distilleries I’d learnt a lot more about the famous Don Javier, and was encouraged by locals to ask him to make his legendary Batanga for me. Eduardo Orendain Jr of Arette even accompanied me there so that he could do the introductions, but Don Javier was running late so Eduardo explained my quest to Arron instead. Thirty minutes later I returned, to meet the legend himself. Don Javier is a complete professional so insisted on getting behind the bar to make my Batanga, and yes I felt guilty putting an OAP to work, even a VIP one! First the salt is added to the rim of the glass, then the lime is cut and juice squeezed into the glass. The El Tequileno Tequila is free poured to a certain height and the Coca Cola added, then it’s time for the secret weapon, Don Javier stirs the drink with his trademark knife to add that extra flavour, it’s the same knife he’s just used to cut the lime. I was truly honoured to have him make it for me, and very frustrated with my limited Spanish, but I’d struck lucky, there were two visitors from Guadalajara sat at the bar who spoke good English, so I immediately recruited Emmanuel as my translator!

Don Javier is so incredibly hospitable, he pointed out photos of famous British visitors, told us how Julio Bermejo sends lots of people to his bar, and told me not to have my camera or phone on show in Guadalajara! In true matinee tradition the salsa was playing, so my translator became dance partner, and Don Javier moved his zimmer frame to give us more space to dance. He then applauded with a “muy bien” at the end of the song. He wants his punters to have a good time in his bar, and we certainly were, it was a taste of a bygone era. I stayed for as long as Don Javier did, and when he left I told him it had been a pleasure, his response of course was that the pleasure was all his. Such a gent, and such a treasured experience for me. Don Javier is very proud of the fame that his bar has achieved, so it was only fitting that he should have his own copy of the book. Thank you Don Javier, for the Batanga and for bringing me to Mexico, you are indeed a legend.

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