Wine & Spirits

By Meredith Clinton Bell

With 412 tequilas on the menu (yes, really), La Biblioteca is the place to discover, taste, explore and learn more about the agave-based spirit of Mexico than you thought possible.

Hidden in the basement of Latin-Asian fusion restaurant Zengo, this speak easy-esque lounge is intimate with a hint of mystery. Bottles align the walls — all organized in categories — and serve to support the well-done library theme. You’ll find tequilas aged anywhere from seven days to 250 years, and La Biblioteca is betting you’ll taste one you like.

Despite the narrow definition that to be tequila it must be made from the blue weber agave plant (one of over 200 varieties) and harvested in one of only five states in Mexico, there’s room for diversity at distillation. And because of that, the variances in flavor can be broad and complex. No need to be overwhelmed, however; the folks at La Biblioteca want to be your guides.

Led by the official “tequila librarian” Courtenay Greenleaf, knowledgeable servers are available to help you find your best flavor match, and their more than ten tasting flights are the best places to start. Choose the vertical tasting flight, which showcases different aging techniques — blanco, reposado and añejo — from the same distiller, or a horizontal tasting that features one aging technique from three different distillers. You can even explore the nuances of tequilas aged in different barrels including those previously used for wine, bourbon and cognac.

Every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. a master distiller, owner or brand ambassador hosts an informal, personalized tasting of their tequila. Many lesser-known makers come to show off their spirits — the perfect time to ask questions and learn right from the source.

Another unique twist, buy any of the 412 bottles in the library to join an exclusive members-only club complete with membership card and a tequila locker all your own to store it in. Stop in any time for a taste of your personal stuff.

What better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than by exploring tequila, the spirit of Mexico? They’ll feature a special menu and will be hosting a private, tickets-only event on May 7. Call 212-808-8110 for details.

One place to start your tasting might be with the librarian’s all-time favorite…Fortaleza, neat. Courtenay lit up as she explained how, to her, it perfectly captures the freshly cooked agave flavor she first tasted in Mexico.

La Biblioteca
622 Third Ave New York, NY
212-808-8110
http://www.richardsandoval.com/labiblioteca

Originally published May 2013
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