La Biblioteca in Murray Hill the night we arrived. Maybe a couple shots of courage would line our stomachs for the weekend that lay ahead.
La Biblioteca is a gorgeous hidden gem, worth seeking out the next time you’re in the city. A basement bar with over 400 tequilas and surprisingly good Asian-Latin food. I say surprisingly because I wanted to believe with all my heart my tiny ahi tuna taco appetizer would be flavorless claptrap, but it was the opposite: tender and sweet with a crunch and great acid green from the cilantro and a satisfying late heat. I wanted 3 more.
I’d heard of this place from an Internet search on tequila, then promptly saw the bar featured on some throwaway food show the following week. Kismet. We sought it out – hoping to quench our thirsts, but more than that, hoping to find my latest version of Cibola, the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth: Don Alvaro Anejo. I’d sipped this nectar for the first time years ago on Christmas Eve in Cancun (destination wedding), and immediately fell in love with its grassiness, its smooth airy quality, its late hint of jalapeno pepper.
La Biblioteca didn’t have that one, but their way-knowledgeable sommelier of tequila Courtenay Greenleaf led us through a full tasting of anejos, reposados, and blancos from every region. Siete Leguas most closely resembled my beloved Alvaro with its grassy herbalness and semi-sweet finish. But no jalapenos here. No bother – with hundreds to try, it was best to keep looking. Riazul (“Blue River”) was sweet – as sweet as taffy, or caramel, or vanilla crème brulee sprinkled with sugar. Definitely one to choose for dessert. Cabrito, the blanco with the goat on the label, was presented as a peasant tequila, a top quality blanco for sure, but one you could find in any bodega in Mexico. The Two Buck Chuck of tequila. It tasted of spun sugar, meringue, and marshmellow but not marshmellow. Something lighter, whiter, and not as sweet. An airy-ness that descended into a pure agave finish of loveliness. Hubby and Courtenay looked at me like I was nuts when I mentioned meringue, but this lover of sweets kept coming back to it. El Tesoro Reposado was so light and pure and smooth it was barely tequila. Perfect for a beginner just getting used to what real agave is supposed to taste like.
My favorite of the night? Siete Leguas because it tasted most like my beloved Don Alvaro Anejo. But that Cabrito a very close second. We entered as lovers of anejo (a good entry point for any beginner), and left more knowledgeable, a little tipsy, with a newfound appreciation for blanco. Yes Virginia there is a blanco that can be sipped. Yes a blanco does exist that won’t give you tequila face. It’s called Cabrito. Try it sometime.
Kudos to Courtenay Greenleaf for the lessons and the generosity of her time and conversation. She’s the “librarian” at La Biblioteca – so called because you can purchase any bottle then “check it out” with your library card each time you visit. Great idea! *Wishing they did this in Cville.* This prompted visions of a parallel life, one where I worked in Midtown then stopped into the library for cocktails with friends before heading home. Sigh...
And my search for Don Alvaro? Never fear for I have the best hubby there is! On a recent business trip to San Diego he braved a trip to Tijuana and found some. I’m the luckiest girl in the world. Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!