Thursday, 3 November 2011

Patrón dinner @ the Rebel Dining Society

It was with trepidation that I hoofed it to deepest, darkest Hackney last week in search of the clandestine Rebel Dining Society. Donning a pair of scandalously tight red jeans and scuffed brown suede boots in a bit to look suitably hip, having located Vyner Street and traversed it twice, number 30 eludes me. Spotting a pair of glamour pusses in fur coats and pearls looking equally lost, I join the duo and we eventually strike upon the white quilted door.

I'd been invited to a secret supper in a converted chapel by ultra-premium Tequila, Patrón, namechecked in songs by the likes of Bruno Mars and P Diddy and made famous by Tom Cruise when he orders it post car crash in the club scene in Vanilla Sky. Flirting with the stars and securing the celebrity seal of approval has helped take the brand from profits of $US75m to $US450m in a mere six years. Patrón is currently the world's number one ultra-premium Tequila, accounting for 70% of sales in the category and outselling its nearest competitor in the US by eight to one. The brand's luxury offering has done much to haul the white spirit out of the dark ages and shake off Tequila's less-than-favourable associations with cowboys and bandits, replacing it with cool, well-connected club goers.

The dinner had been put on for Patrón Social Club members – an online community of Patrón fans stretching to over 100,000, made up predominantly of affluent young professionals. Surveying my surroundings while perching on a tall black stall on a table full of fellow hacks, the rest of the room seems suitably Patrón – slick suits, expensive haircuts and shiny shoes abound. In front of us are four unopened bottles of Tequila, teasing us with their proximity. If this is some sort of willpower test, we fail spectacularly, opening the first within minutes of sitting down.

A besuited JJ Goodman, of London Cocktail Club fame, emerges and delivers an ebullient speech about the joys of mixology, whizzing through how to make the first concoction of the night: the Honey Bee Ceviche, which went wonderfully well with our scallop ceviche starters, the former bursting with citrus, the latter tasting pleasingly of the sea and resting on a textured bed of hazelnuts and fennel, much to the delight of Sadie Whitelocks and Stylist's Amy Grier (below).

Our second mixology session results in the Tamarind Sliver Fizz, made with the golden, delicious Patrón Añejo, a blend of uniquely aged Tequilas imbued with sweet honey notes and a long butterscotch finish, served with a perfectly pink but disappointingly cold loin of lamb. The third and final round has me on the shaker, mixing a super smooth Tira-Patrón Martini made with the company's latest baby: Patrón XO Cafe, a Tequila coffee-liqueur accompanied by a devilish dessert of caramelised figs, cherries and mascarpone. Before leaving the chapel, I pay a visit to the ramshackle loo, floor-to-ceiling with artwork. The featured image piqued my interest – Kate Moss through the eyes of Gauguin (after a glass or two of Absinthe) perhaps.

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