Behind Every Great Bar, Is a Great Man
When I first heard about a little bar called La Capilla, I found it quite hard to understand all the talk about the bar. I saw pictures, heard stories, and after a little while I thought it was the kind of bar you “have” to like when you get back from a booze-trip with a Tequila company. I have had that experience before with different places. People talk it up so much, that my expectations are through the ceiling. Which in all honesty is not fair to any place. Mexico was a place I had been thinking of travelling to for quite the while, so one day I had enough, and took off.
It is very difficult when you have such a passion as I do for Tequila and Mexican food. My problem was that i had never been to Mexico before. I loved everything, and I mean everything. I fell in love with Wal-Mart (not even Mexican and I loved it) which I never been to before, but I supplied me with an amazing range of quality Tequila. I bought every bottle under 150 pesos. So after a week or so running around every liquor shop I Guadalajara, and doing some serious tasting and of course taking notes of everything, I woke up and found it appropriate to move on. I soon learnt there was much better things to life than Wal-Mart (though i did return frequently).
I went through highlands and lowlands of Tequila country, in and out of distilleries like I had never seen one before. It was at this point it got so much easier to filter all the information I took in about being in Mexico. All of a sudden the tacos I had in a restaurant downtown Guadalajara wasn’t the best I had ever had, the ones made in a little street stall in Arandas were much better, and so it kept on, Tequila for Tequila and taco for taco.
Four something weeks later I had come back to earth and landed in Tequila town. For those who have not been there, it is a beautiful little tranquil town pretty much in the middle of agaves. Everywhere you look on the way to Tequila is agave. It is absolutely amazing to see Tequila Orendine, Sauza and many more painting the hillsides with flowers in the shape of their brand names. It somehow added a different dimension of real-ness to the pictures I had of how Tequila country was. As we kept driving we passed by distilleries belonging to Partida, Herradura, Tres Mujeres and many more. Then almost at the end of the road came the town of Tequila and even before I could see it, I could smell cooked agave through the windows of the little yellow taxi. A big smile came on my lips, I was home.
After numerous tours of distilleries and late nights drinking Tequila with fellow aficionados, we made our way to the little bar called La Capilla. It must have been early evening, the sun was still up. After getting used to the way buildings look and the state of them, it adds a lot to the charm, so by the time I saw La Capilla, I ones again just smiled. Walking in and there they are, I recognised the three people in the bar, from pretty much every photo I have seen from La Capilla. Don Javier of course, behind the bar with his big smile and his big belly sitting down on a bar stool. The other one drinking a Batanga and the third making himself one. It is situated a couple of blocks from the town square and it is the oldest bar in town.
Don Javier Delgado Corona, a very generous man in his mid 80’s and third generation bar owner of La Capilla. It is a simple space, almost poky and lit by bare light bulbs, with only a handful of stools on which to perch in front of a plywood bar, plus a further scattering of plastic tables and chairs where we enjoyed a few Batanga’s and a big plate of small, round, green and red chili peppers served with a cup of salt, listening to story after story told by the man himself. It is after this experience I came to understand why people talked so highly of this place. People do not come for the bar itself, but for the feeling of being with Don Javier.
It is really the Batanga that started my knowledge of El Bar la Capilla, it was first invented in 1961, by a slightly younger Don Javier. Javier is a long time friend of the family who owns and operates the El Tequileño Tequila factory that’s located just up the hill from La Capilla. His signature drink is the Batanga made with El Tequileño Blanco and Coke with a little salt and fresh lime. The El Tequileño company was founded in 1959 and Javier created his original Batanga recipe in 1961. He is a well-respected and frequently visited man of the little town. If I was there for three hours, there was at least a handful of kids passing by offering a helping hand to the lovely old man.
To quote Julio Bermejo, “Don Javier is one of the most giving persons I have ever been acquainted. He embodies everything that is great about the hospitality business. It is a pity there are not more people like Don Javier”