One of the fun perks of being a food blogger is having local eateries invite me to attend events and sample their latest offerings. I’ve been to restaurant openings and media events just for bloggers, newspaper reporters and local magazine editors; all hoping that an intimate experience with both their fare and their staff will result in a favorable review. I am seldom disappointed. Most recently I was invited to attend an event at La Loma Mexican Restaurant in it’s new location in downtown Denver on Broadway where my guest and I along with others sampled a wide variety of Mexican Cuisine alongside a tasting of Codigo Tequila.
The evening featured a special Tequila dinner they had on their schedule for the public and normally I would have done a review and published it prior to the event. Unfortunately I had a date with the flu instead and I missed sharing that event; but did not want to miss sharing with you some of the highlights of the meal along with this Manhattan with Codigo Tequila.
We started the evening by visiting a bar they had setup just for media guests and were able to customize our own margarita. Fresh fruits and herbs were in abundance and we could mix and match to our hearts desire. I have made enough margaritas to know what suits my fancy and I went with a strawberry basil version. I knew the fruit and herb combination would be a winner so the only unknown variant was the tequila. While Codigo was not a brand I was familiar with until that evening; I must say it could easily become a favorite.
One of the most unusual aspects of Código 1530’s aged tequilas are that they are aged in French Oak wine barrels out of Napa Valley. Because of some of his business dealings in Napa, owner Ron Snyder said that he was able to cut a deal with some of the best wineries to get their used barrels—the distillery then chars the inside and ages the tequila there. The result is an extremely smooth product, fit for a king they say. In this instance, they are referring to George Strait, the king of country music and one of the partners in Codigo.
I love tequila tastings…when once I hated tequila (because who drinks good tequila in their 20’s right?), I now love being able to discern the difference aging making. I must admit…I’m happy to go Reposado any time; it’s in the middle so it’s aged a bit with a resulting smoothness but just the right amount to work perfectly in cocktails. Save that pricey stuff for sipping!
We were served a variety of appetizers to enjoy with our margaritas including Mini Chicken Flautas, Mini Rellenos, and Sarapes, another mini treat of shredded chicken in a crispy shell served with green chili. I especially loved the Mini Rellenos; but then I love rellenos of all sizes so that was easy. While I enjoyed the first course, I have to say that for me the starts of the evening were the main course when this Codigo Manhattan with Tequila was served with their fantastic Fajitas.
Platters of chicken, beef and shrimp were served with fresh tortillas and all of the expected accompaniments; grilled onions, guacomole, sour cream, shredded cheese and a variety of sauces. I honestly believe their shrimp were the best I’ve ever had in a restaurant; large, smoky and grilled to absolute perfection. My tablemates all were bemoaning only one thing, that the food was so good they should stop because they were full but could not. I knew that same feeling!
Just when we were about to burst; the evening was wrapping up. Everyone was full and content and already making plans to return to La Loma when our hosts announced dessert. DESSERT? Oh but we’re all so full; we simply could not. Fried Ice Cream? Oh well, OK then. I haven’t had fried ice cream in so long but it truly was irresistible. Vanilla ice cream with a crispy cinnamon and sugar coating topped with whipped cream and cherries. The perfect finish to an amazing meal.
If you’re in Denver; discover the new La Loma. After years in a different location they are now downtown on Broadway. The food is amazing, the interior is warm and homey and the staff are friendly and so very helpful. Yes I know that they knew that we were media but it was evident it was not contrived; warmth seldom is.
Want to try your hand at this cocktail? I snagged the recipe from John, one of the bartender’s. His recipe called for smoky orange bitters which I found but they are not widely available so I just used my favorite orange bitters and it was still terrific. It’s a simple cocktail; just tequila, vermouth and bitters but it’s complex on the palate and absolutely divine. CHEERS!!
Codigo Manhattan with Tequila
- 4 oz Reposado tequila (I used Codigo Reposado)
- 1 oz vermouth
- 4 dashes of orange bitters
- Pitted Maraschino Cherries
- Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Pour in the tequila, vermouth and bitters and stir gently until cold.
- Pour over ice in a rocks glass and garnish with maraschino cherries.