At the best of times, being invited to something branded a ‘Rumble’ at a warehouse raises some eyebrows – epecially when it’s fuelled almost entirely by tequila.
Thankfully, there were also some delicious tacos on the menu. This year’s edition of the Manchester Margarita Rumble was a buzzing, cheerful celebration of everything a margarita can and should be.
Returning for its second year, now at the well-loved Victoria Warehouse, the Margarita Rumble promised a selection of Manchester’s finest tequila concoctions. They featured all manner of ingredients, from avocado and cucumber to orange and cinnamon. Ruby Bannerman and I were on hand to give our incredibly uninformed opinions, while trying not to get too drunk to write in the process.
The tone was immediately set on entry. After following some bare steps down into the Rumble’s concrete basement venue, we were entertained by a Day Of The Dead sugar skull-headed man. He certainly ensured all guests were adequately festive with his smooth moves.
There wasn’t a dull moment or any escape from something eye-catching. Attendees filled the space chatting, dancing, and eyeing up the next drink to try. Every direction had some new treat in store, as flag-adorned tables were lined with drinks as colourful as they were confusing. It was all brought together by one simple thing, which most punters present gave as their main reason for attending: “Tequila!”
The majority of the drinks were sweet and fruity, and definitely strong enough to make the whole occasion worthwhile. Ruby and I opened our margarita adventure with some light cocktails, one with guava and the other a summer berry mix. It gave us a nice, welcoming entry into the margarita world. Both were not too far from some delicious fresh fruit juice, but had enough of a kick to get our feet moving to the Latin-inspired rhythms laid down by the two DJs.
From then on it became a contest to see who could pretend to know the most about tequila. El Taquero’s avocado, citrus, and cucumber concoction had an intriguing flavour profile, but lacked the body to truly compliment the sharp tequila. Tapeo & Wine’s interesting combination of spiced Spanish liquor, orange, and cinnamon struck Ruby as unexpectedly delicious. It was the kind of drink that would be appropriate for a very boozy Christmas afternoon. Its gingerbread-esque flavour surprised us both.
Other favourites came from Ruby’s personal victor of the Margarita Rumble, Handmade Burger Co. Their cocktail offering was thankfully more handmade than beefy. It provided the best take on the ‘fruity cocktail on a summer’s day’ approach that many opted for. Hints of strawberry, kiwi, and citrus proved a great success. A small strawberry adorning the edge of the glass was a nice touch. The cocktail’s creator, Dean (who conveniently had his name tattooed on his forearm in case we forgot it) told us of the lengthy process that went into fine-tuning their margarita, playing with the fine balance of many fruity ingredients.
Sadly it wasn’t all a room of winners. As hard as we tried in the interests of journalistic integrity, there was one drink neither me nor Ruby could finish. One (slightly too) adventurous combination of mango, coconut, almond, and a-Haribo-Tangfastics-rivalling quantity of sugar around the rim was too much. The bitter taste for contrast sadly failed to really hit any of the notes it attempted.
Everyone in attendance – from the guests to the organisers – were in high spirits. I’m sure this had nothing to do with the vast quantities of readily available tequila. Every stall we went to had multiple smiling bartenders ready to dissect their drink for you.
A pair of bartenders summed up their mission for the day as “good vibes” which I strongly supported, as they went to tell us more about their organisation – an innovative mix of a restaurant-cum-bar and an ‘Urban Virtual-Golf Club’ named Albatross & Arnold. There was no shortage of stories to be told about these drinks, the people behind them and the organisations they represented. Each new stall felt like a short exhibition of someone’s full creative vision. No matter the contents of the cup in front of you, it was always an enriching and interesting experience.
Even the event’s organisers were on hand throughout the day to share in the festivities. Nick Brian is just one of the men behind the Rumble. He saw the event mainly as a celebration of the “beautiful thing” that is the margarita, but also as an opportunity to put smiles on peoples faces, creating good times between friends and strangers alike.
Nick recounted the undeniably wholesome story of how the event brings together himself and two other long-time friends. They rarely see each other save for the organising of the Rumble, which now takes place in Manchester, London, Bristol, and the US. Nick showed such a genuine love for the event he’d helped create, persuading me and Ruby to stay for another few margaritas. This was probably the easiest thing he’d done all day.
The Manchester Margarita Rumble was a thoroughly enjoyable event. Rarely would you see a room of people so drunk at 3pm and it not be at all tragic. Nick and friends truly delivered on the celebration of the margarita. This event gave me an excuse to say “let’s get ready to rumble” to Ruby an irritating amount of times. A Sunday afternoon can’t get much better than that.