The name means ‘a nonsense’ or ‘a trifle’, but that’s not a fitting description for this new Sloane Square bar. It’s the latest venture from Guy Pelly, pal of the princes, head of light entertainment for London’s high society, and the man behind Mahiki and Whisky Mist. A similar crowd patronises this Mexican-themed club, although it’s quite democratic – you really don’t need a title or a trust fund to visit.
Tonteria is a serious – and expensive – tequila bar, with an arm-long list of spirits ranging from down-in-one party slammers to a £5,000 bottle of Reserva del Alma. Apparently only two bottles remain in the world; necking one would be like shooting a white rhino for sport. Loads of money has clearly been spent making the bar look like the slightly ramshackle underground lair of a Juarense drug cartel.
It manages to be both kitsch and classy at the same time. Sharing cocktails are served in novelty receptacles such as a Mayan pyramid or a Day of the Dead skull. Shots come on a wooden ‘Serpent of Doom’ tray. A little train track around the ceiling delivers drinks to cheering drinkers. But the cocktails are far better than the lurid tequila sunrises found in all-inclusive resorts – see the tamarind margarita or the Soul Happiness with fresh watermelon syrup. A better sort of party food is served, including mini pork tacos and squid ceviche.
As the night draws on, lights go down while voIumes and hemlines go up. It’s a place to celebrate the rugby club night out, a debutante presentation or impending ascension to the throne. Or just a wild night in west London.