Wilbur Mexicana in Toronto

Wilbur Mexicana is where a group of friends can meet for drinks and a taco or even going out on your own for time alone. This is a spot where anyone and everyone is welcomed, while also offering cheap downtown eats with big flavour. Wilbur Mexicana is named after the chemist that discovered the Scoville scale of spicy heat, Wilbur Scoville. They offer an upscale but casual atmosphere serving up fast cheap eats that you would not expect in the downtown core.

Wilbur Mexicana
552 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M3
http://wilburmexicana.com
https://www.instagram.com/wilburmexicana/

Once you enter the restaurant there is a sign up on the menu board that states, “Wilbur first timers, grab a menu at the door”, when you read this, you look to your left and see some menus hanging off the side rack. Once you figure out what you want to indulge in, you simply order and pay at the cash where you give you a numbered placeholder that contains a photo of a cartoon pepper. If you are dining in, just grab a seat at a table to you prefer and sit pretty; if take out, sit comfy on a stool right next to the cash.

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Christina’s Visit to Patron Hacienda in Atotonilco, Mexico

In the small town of Atotonilco outside of Guadalajara, Mexico sits the Patron distillery. The distillery is where they make all of their product and bottle it by hand. I was lucky enough to visit and bring back photos of the tequila making process. Patron uses two different methods to make their final product, one characterized by the traditional tahona; a volcanic stone used to crush the agave. The other process is a more modern roller mill that seperates the agave juice and fibers. No matter which style the agave are destined for they start the same way.

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All the agave have their leaves removed by hand and are baked for 72 hours in large brick ovens.

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All the agave have their leaves removed by hand and are baked for 72 hours in large brick ovens. After the baking they are either crushed slowly with the tahona or they go to the roller mill process.

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IMG_7052The tahona crushed tequila is transferred to the fermentors with both the agave fibers and agave juice while the roller mill only captures and ferments the juice.IMG_7041

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Here in the roller mill process only the juice is fermented. Above both the fibers and juice ferment together.

Both are distilled twice in copper stills and then they are ready to be diluted to 80 proof and aged, blended, or bottled. IMG_7045The flavor difference between the two methods is noticeable. The tahona tequila yields a fruitier tequila with a less noticeable taste of alcohol while the roller mill is bright, citrusy, and burns a bit more on the way down. The regular Patron is a blend of both but I recommend giving Roca Patron a try as it is made from only the tahona tequila and is perfect to sip on. IMG_7056Patron has a variety of aged products from the Reposados and Anejos to the more exclusive extra anejos. IMG_7066They use different barrels to age them including French oak and American Bourbon barrels.

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Some of the wood used for the aging process.
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Trying different combinations of age and wood.

One thing I always admire is a large company doing their best to be responsible. Patron can’t help being a large company but they do their best to be a great part of the community.

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The bottling process is still done by hand.

They have not automated any of the processes but keep everything done by hand thus providing many jobs to the community. They also have their own reverse osmosis plant to reclaim the water used in the tequila process. Solid wastes are turned into compost which prevents yeast from getting into other water sources and killing other ecosystems. They use the compost in their own gardens and donate it to the agave farmers they source from.

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The huge (and smelly) compost area.

I really enjoyed seeing how tequila was made, admittedly even though it’s one of my favorites to drink I didn’t know much about it before. If you like tequila I recommend trying out a tahona processed tequila if you can, maybe start with some Roca Patron?

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Patron’s own vegetable gardens grown with their fertilizer and reclaimed water.

Earl Grey Syrup and Secret Garden Sour

Lately I have become infatuated with Earl Grey tea, I began drinking it and it inevitably has ended up in my cocktails. Indeed I have a number of Earl Grey infusions in my fridge at the moment. I wanted to share with you a simple to make Earl Grey syrup and a cocktail recipe to use it in.

Earl Grey Syrup

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon loose leaf or 1 tea bag Earl Grey

 

Place the  tea in the warm water and leave for an hour to steep. Keep in mind that if you decide to use loose leaf tea you will need a fine mesh strainer. Once steeped, put tea in a sauce pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Add the sugar, lower to a simmer, stir until sugar is dissolved. You can stop here, but if you like a thicker syrup as I do continue to stir it over a low-medium heat until it thickens to the right consistency. Once you are happy with the syrup take it off the heat and let it cool before removing the tea and transferring it into an airtight container. I found these awesome glass bottles at a dollar store and capped it with a bottle spout.

 

I like to use the syrup in cocktails of course but I also recommend trying it in lemonade or sparkling water for a refreshing treat.

Secret Garden Sour

  • 1.5 oz London Dry Gin
  • 1 oz Earl Grey Syrup
  • 1oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 egg white (optional but it gives the drink it’s texture and the beautiful foam top)
  • Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters
  • Lavender or other fresh herb for garnish

I love a good sour and this one plays refreshingly with gin’s herbal notes. I encourage you to make it with the egg white, but if you prefer it can be made without. I prepped my glass with ice to chill it, a coupe is lovely but a martini glass works as well. Add your gin, syrup, lemon, and egg to your cocktail shaker without ice. Shaking the ingredients without ice is called a “dry shake” and helps to break up and “beat” the egg white. Dry shake can take a lot of muscle but failing to do it well will give you weird glops of egg white in your cocktail. To help I’ll share a little trick I have, take the spring off of an extra Hawthorn strainer and put it in the shaker with the ingredients. The spring acts as a whisk as you shake. I also recommend wrapping a towel around the seal on your shaker as you dry shake to help catch anything that escapes. The seal does not keep as well when you don’t have ice in the tin.

 

After you’ve done the dry shake, open your tin, it should have a rich, white, frothy foam as my picture. Remove the spring and add your ice. Shake well, about 8 times, the tin should look frosty on the outside.

 

Dump the ice from your chilled cocktail glass and use the strainer you did not take apart (or you can quickly reconstruct the first one) and strain it into the glass. Finish with 3 drop of the lavender bitters and a sprig of lavender as garnish. To finish mine with a nice little pattern I dragged a toothpick through my bitters drops in a circular motion.

This cocktail may sound daunting but once you’ve mastered the dry shake it will be easy as pie! Try it out with pisco or vodka instead of gin for a slightly different flavor!