Cheers April/May 2018

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 22 of 59 23 April/May 2018 • a standard menu item. But various Margaritas are what keep the lights on, even among confi rmed agave sippers. During Happy Hours, which extend on weekends from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Las Perlas serves Margaritas and Palomas through a draft system by the glass or pitcher. Spirits account for more than 85% of alcohol sales at Barrios, with the vast majority of that coming from tequila and mezcal, says Haglind. And the well-established list of Margarita-like creations leads the way. Barrios offers 11 Margarita-type drinks in all, plus four other cocktails with tequila. In addition to the two best sellers—the house variant and a top-shelf splurge—Barrios Margarita-style drinks include The Macho Camacho, made with blood oranges, ancho-chile-infused tequila and cava; Enter the Dragon, with passion fruit, muddled pepper and cava; and Diamante Pepino with cristalino tequila, cucumber and jalapeno. The restaurant also offers a pineapple juice/serrano pepper/mezcal effort called Up In Smoke. 400 Rabbits offers $5 Happy Hour Margaritas, Palomas and El Diablos (reposado tequila, lime juice, ginger beer, cassis). Other cocktails at 400 Rabbits, normally priced in the $10 range, include the Phoenix ( joven mezcal, green chili liqueur, lime, tajin), the Firing Squad (blanco tequila, lime, grenadine, bitters, soda), the Garden Margarita (tequila, lime, celery, cucumber, cilantro) and the agave triple play Tiki Tiki Tavi (blanco tequila, reposado sotol, mezcal, velvet falernum, lime juice, spiced syrup, grapefruit soda). Even at New York's La Contente Oeste and La Contente Lower East Side, where authenticity is important, Margaritas are the top seller, says partner and mixologist Alex Valencia. "But next to the Margarita, our signature cocktails are right up there." La Contente's specialty cocktails include a group of what Valencia calls "bebidas ancestrales," that showcase the fl avors of Mexico. Ingredients include cactus pear, prickly pear, huitlacoche, pulque, tepache, corn and damiana fl ower, among others. "Bebidas ancestrales for me is a recipe that combines equal parts of tradition and fl avors with the main ingredient which is mixology," Valencia says. "The fi nal product is a new experience for our customers." AT A PREMIUM As might be expected, Margaritas are even more important at classic Tex-Mex-themed restaurant chains. Many of these operators have upped their Margarita game as well. Abuelo's, for instance, recently added a Blanco Tacos + Tequila drinks include Rosalee's Downfall, with blanco tequila, rose petal/mango liqueur and lime, and the El Capitan Margarita, with Don Julio "1942" tequila, Mandarine Napoleon liqueur, crushed demerara and Himalayan salt. A classic Tequila sunrise at La Contente in New York. PHOTO CREDIT: LISA KAPLOWITZ 400 Rabbits, a cocktail lounge adjacent to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema location in Austin, TX, has a tightly controlled list of agave spirits—eight brands and 23 tequila expressions, nine brands and 23 mez- cals, with a few sotols. PHOTO CREDIT: NICK SIMONITE

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