The scent of fresh coriander, parsley and mint wafted through the air, conjuring up memories of tacos and salsa on Mexican beaches.
Our mouths watered as the bartender vigorously muddled an aromatic concoction behind the counter, working to the familiar tune of "All Shook Up" sung in Spanish. At Tio's Cerveceria (14 Foster Street, Surry Hills) drinks are king, and the only food on offer is the free (and addictive) chilli popcorn.
Tio's, a Mexican-Guatemalan tequila joint, is one of the city's newest small bars, adding to the growing popularity of Central and South American cuisine in Australia. Expect eclectic decor, quirky tunes and delightful drinks served up by some of Sydney's best bartenders at very affordable prices.
The Three Herb Elixir (a muddled mix of herbs) is the shining star in the El Roberto Especial refresco (refreshment), which also includes fresh apple juice, lime, cucumber and a kick of tequila -- all for the bargain price (in Sydney terms) of 10 Australian dollars. Joining the El Roberto on the 10-dollar refresco list are classics like the Paloma (tequila, grapefruit soda and lime), a Tequila Sunrise with house-made grenadine, and a Bloody Maria chock full of tomato juice, carrot and a homemade pickled quail egg. There is also a $17 cockteles (cocktail) list made up of margaritas.
Ninety different types of tequila are on offer, many displayed on the back wall along with a hodgepodge of Central American relics and knick knacks, stringed lights, candles and masks. Patrons can choose to sip their tequila cocktail or shoot back shots with chasers of pineapple and jalapeno peppers. Beer and wine are also available, with the popular choice being cheap cans of Rio Bravo lined with salt and lime.
Tio's Cerveceria is the brainchild of Jeremy Blackmore and Alex Dowd, both from the Shady Pines Saloon. Drop by for a drink south of the border from 4:00p.m to midnight every day except for Sunday when its doors open from noon.