Industry Insiders: Jaime Salas, Tequila Guru

Every day is Cinco de Mayo for tequila expert and California native Jaime Salas. We asked the Milagro tequila ambassador for tips on how to honor Cinco de Mayo like a pro, just as he was rushing out to pick up rhubarb for later on tonight (it was, of course, tequila related).

Point of Origin: I come from a big tequila family. My mom’s family is from Jalisco, and I started collecting tequila on family trips to Mexico. And then, through a friend of a friend, I got the opportunity to be a brand ambassador for Don Julio and I thought, ‘you mean I get paid to travel around and talk about tequila?’ and that’s how I got into this. I was always a fan of the whole Milagro portfolio, so I was very happy when this opportunity presented itself. This is technically my third tequila ambassadorship.

On his vast tequila collection: I started collecting tequilas years ago, and I have more than three hundred bottles. Most of them are back in California. Here in New York I’ve got about 60 bottles. Tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo I’m not sure what I’m going to open, but I will definitely be having Milagro Silver which is my favorite ‘blanco’ tequila. My sipper tequila is Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Reposado. It’s won a lot of accolades.

On the perfect margarita recipes:

Margarita Evolved 2oz Milagro Silver .75oz Milagro Agave nectar 1 oz Lime juice Served in a Rocks glass Garnished with a lime wheel El Pepino 1.5oz Milagro Reposado .75oz Bols Triple Sec 1oz lime juice .75oz simple syrup 3 slices cucumber 6 cilantro leaves .25oz eggwhites Served in a cocktail glass Garnished with a thin cucumber slice

On his busy Cinco de Mayo plans: I’m doing a pre Cinco event tonight at Los Feliz in the Lower East Side, and tomorrow evening from 6:30 – 8:30 I’m going to be at the Astor Center for the Agave Fest and the Margarita Evolved Seminar. Then I’m heading to Santos Party House for the Mex and the City Cinco de Gallo VIP Session.

On tequila faux pas: There’s no need to numb or coat the palate with quality tequila. Putting ice or water in tequila by chilling it is a don’t. Limes, lemons and salt to coat the palate might be good to take care of the burn of lesser tequilas, but not what you want to do with a flavorful, good tequila.

On the places he digs in New York: I love the Sicilian Margarita at the new NYC hotspot, Kenmare. It’s really a hybrid margarita – Milagro Silver is combined with Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur and a touch of Campari. It’s delicious. In my opinion the best non-margarita Milagro cocktail can be found at the Ace Hotel lobby bar. I love La Esquina for their Chapulines Tostadas and Milagro house margaritas. Yerba Buena, although Pan Latin with a Mexican influence, has great food and an expansive tequila collection. I always like going to Toloache for their ‘alta cocina’ approach to great Mexican food and cocktails. Mayahuel is my favorite restaurant for all things agave and small plates. It’s named for the Tara Reid Lindsay Lohan Goddess of Tequila.

BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where cool customers go out — bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, you name it. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living. ● Creative Director – Jason Daniels, The Odeon (NYC) -American Psychos down salmon and steak frites, but the real scene’s on the sidewalk. ● Vice President, Content – Chris Mohney, Agua Dulce (NYC) – Festive outpost feels like Miami, F-L-A.

EDITORIAL ● Senior Editor – Nick Haramis, Motor City Bar (NYC) – Front like you remember how to drive and these 8 Milers might let you hang. ● Features Editor – Willa Paskin, Mayahuel (NYC) – Tequila temple where patrons pay homage to the goddess of agave. ● Writer-at-Large – Alison Powell, Peppermill (Las Vegas) – Vegas institution pushes diner food in front and romantic cocktails in the back. ● Nightlife Correspondent – Steve Lewis, Serpentine (NYC) – Patrick Duffy’s legendary scene uncoils in west Chelsea. ● Assistant Editors – Ben Barna, Jupiter Room (Montreal) – Drink your face off for cheap and dance ’til it aches. Cayte Grieve, Blackstones (NYC) – Foster Ethan Kamer, Joseph Leonard (NYC) – Elegantly distressed Village charmer serving up three solid meals a day. Eiseley Tauginas, Barrow Street Ale House (NYC) – College sports fans and West Village regulars cram into cozy confines. ● Copy Editor – Michèle Filon, Back Forty (NYC) – Manure-free urban farm sates virtuous, albeit rare, healthy food cravings. ● Editorial Interns – Molly Gunn, PDT (NYC) – Somebody told, but still a nice sophisto surprise behind the grunge of Crif. Megan LaBruna, Mercury Lounge (NYC) – Catch a future indie rock god at this rite of musical passage. Toren Curtis, The Vagabond (Miami) – Great indie scene. Even better music. Ashley Simpson, SPiN New York (NYC) – Marginally-more-athletic alternative to beer pong gets its own private club. Averie Timm, Downtown Cipriani (NYC) – Über-scene congregation of A-list supermodels, art stars, and financiers. Food, too. If you care. Annie Werner, Antone’s (Austin) – This revered blues club’s namesake did more for black-white relations than the Oreo cookie. Hillary Weston, The Four-Faced Liar (NYC) – Greenwich Village-proper pub is something out of Middle Earth, or Docklands. Either way: the real deal.

ART ● Art Director – Amy Steinhauser, Mizu Sushi (NYC) – Popular lunch spot for Flatiron media types needing to bitch. ● Assistant Designer – Serra Semi, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (NYC) – Chef-of-the-minute David Chang fancies up Korean burritos and gets avant-garde after 6pm. ● Photography Assistant – Stephanie Swanicke, Canal Room (NYC) – Jersey hordes in the house, but discreet famous faces still rock all night. ● Freelance Designer – Krista Quick, t.b.d (NYC) – Sleek and chic lounge in the heart of Greenpoint.

FASHION & BEAUTY ● Market Editor – Bryan Levandowski, Shang (NYC) – Toronto-bred Susur Lee takes on nouveau Asian small plates at the Thompson LES. ● Fashion Assistant – Wilson Mathews III, Dylan’s Candy Bar (NYC) – King-sized candy shop hypnotizing children and torturing adult waistlines in the UES.

BLACKBOOK MEDIA CORP ● Chairman – Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA) – The inspiration is Eyes Wide Shut…so yes, there’s lots of leather. ● CEO – Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts) – An escape into paradise in the middle of, well, paradise. ● Associate Publisher – Brett Wagner, Barrio Chino (NYC) – Chino Latino tequila bar serving up 50 kinds of that devil stuff. ● Director of Finance and Operations – Joe Friedman, Brooklyn Bowl (NYC) – Rock and bowl will never die. ● Corporate Counsel – Drew Patrick, Tournesol (NYC) – Coq au vin and crème brûlée? Oui! Oui! ● Executive Assistant – Bridgette Bek, Tu Lan (San Francisco) – Word-of-mouth dingy treasure serving good, cheap Vietnamese food in a downright crappy location.

ADVERTISING – ● Senior Account Executive – Dina Matar, Ilili (NYC) – Upscale Lebanese moves miles beyond falafel. ● Account Executive – Brian Kantor, Lillie’s (NYC) – Victorian pub with just enough antiquery to make you feel grand. ● Executive Director, BlackBook Access – Gregg Berger, Indochine (NYC) – French-colonial greets uptown-cum-downtown diners. ● Advertising Director – Michelle Koruda, Shorty’s .32 (NYC) – Josh Eden under-promises and over-delivers at this Soho charmer. ● Detroit Account Executives – Jeff Hannigan, The Lodge (Chicago) -Ye old typical Division Street cheese, but always a shameless good time. Kristen von Bernthal, Hudson Bar at Hudson Hotel (NYC) – Acid-trip décor. Sit on a log and rest your drink on a gnome head. ● Midwest Account Executives – Susan Welter, Hopleaf Bar (Chicago) – Andersonville’s best bar. Belgian beers and food meet in a place that’s too smart to be too cool and vice versa. Andrea Forrester, Coast Sushi (Chicago) – BYOB meets the sea at this high-quality Wicker Park sushi spot. ● Southwest Account Executive – Molly Ballantine, Rustic Canyon (LA) – Leave it to the upper-cresty West-siders to show everyone else up with their moody, fashionable darkwood and cream take on the ubiquitous neighborhood wine bar. ● Northwest Account Executives – Catherine Hurley, Coi (San Francisco) – The apotheosis of both the molecular gastronomy trend and the sustainable food movement: ethereal, futuristic flavors in a serene environment. Shawn O’Meara, Nopalito (San Francisco) – ● Sales Coordinator – Celia Ballou, Pink Pony (NYC) – Pseudo-bohemian bistro that’s better for people watching than, like, eating or whatever.

MARKETING ● Marketing Manager – Julie Fabricant, Bottega Louie (LA) – Proof that Downtown is still gentrifying. ● Partnerships & Promotions Manager – Andrew Berman, K & M (NYC) – Former perogie factor converted to current meat market for the indie-rock set. ● Interns – Cristina Girgis, Barbounia (NYC) – Tony Medi with good bones. Interior is all about the arches. Alexandra Vickers, The Slaughtered Lamb Pub (NYC) – Magical enough to overlook the horror movie gimmick.

DIGITAL ● Director of Development – Daniel Murphy, Max’s On Broadway (Baltimore) – Ahhh, good old Max’s I remember you well…well what I can remember anyway. ● Lead Architect – Matt Hackett, Caracas Arepa Bar (NYC) – Arepas, seventeen ways. Venezuela is for carb lovers. ● Developer – Bastian Kuberek, Greenhouse (NYC) – NYC’s first Green club tries to make bottles and models sustainable. ● Developer – Dan Simon, Hudson Terrace (NYC) – Rooftop pleaser for drunk summer afternoons. ● Designer – Matt Strmiska, Uchi (Austin) – Thoroughly inventive and delectable sushi in vibrant environs, compliments of lauded chef Tyson Cole. ● Developer – Sam Withrow, The Knockout (San Francisco) – The vibe is blessedly lawless,prolifically musical and down right hedonistic. Peep tall cans and a sweaty dance floor. ● Quality Assurance Engineer – Sunde Johnson, Melt (NYC) – Brooklyn brunch spot becoming the standard for neighborhood dining. ●Mobile Developer – Otto Toth, Alloro (NYC) – Cacio e Pepe peeps get creative on the Upper East.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA). Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts). Eric Gertler, Matsuhisa (Aspen) – World-famous Nobu chef brings incredibly tasty, stylish, pricy sushi to Aspen. Joe Landry, SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills (LA) – Phillipe Starck and Sam Nazarian mind meld to create a papparazzi-inducing modern luxury hotel in (well, near) BH. Irwin Lieber, Fishtail by David Burke (NYC) – Fresh seafood in the UES by celeb chef David Burke. Dan Pelson, Marea (NYC) – Hopes for a high tide abound at Michael White’s temple to Italian seafood. Barry Rubenstein, Bryant & Cooper (Hamptons) – While it may be trying a little too hard for a classic old-time-y vibe, the steaks are nonetheless quite good. Jack Sullivan, The Raleigh Hotel (Miami) – The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont.

Top 10 Spots for a First Date

Variety is key when you are testing the waters of love and lust. To some, love is motivated by how fat one’s pocketbook is. To others, it’s based on where one is able to get a reservation at peak time on a Friday night. Whether your leading lady is a tastemaker with a tiny appetite, or your gent is a sucker for the sauce, there’s a hotspot that’s all the bang for your buck, and a watering hole that may just lead to a bang.

The Little Owl (New York) – Small hotspot where you can view the West Village through rose-colored window panes. A savvy choice for a date in the know, but let your date know you chose it for the greenmarket menu. Swoon. ● Mistral (Los Angeles) – Intimate space, low lighting, the smell of French cuisine, and love is in the air. Couples relish the dark corners. A vast wine list and pared-down menu means easy first date decision-making. Opt for fries over the spinach side; the soft light helps you seem sexy, but it will do nothing for a green tooth.

Nemo (Miami) – Don’t waste this space on someone you’re lukewarm for. Rack up first-impression points with the serious atmosphere at work here. Not too pretentious, but tasty and hip: She just might find a way to thank you after the meal. ● The Bourgeois Pig (New York) – A jump-off point for daters to test the waters before committing to a bite to eat, though perfect as a post-dinner stop when things are going well. Champers, chocolate, cheese make eating sexy as hell. ● Smith & Wollensky (Miami) – Fab first date spot even if your date isn’t a carnivore. For light fare, opt for the cocktail/oyster combo — though the view is the only aphrodisiac needed. Great food, stiff drinks, and unrivaled panoramas of the ocean and the Miami skyline. ● Casa Tua (Miami) -There’s the intimate speakeasy feel that helps to make an impression, especially if your date is young and impressionable. Lamps hang from banyan trees in the garden, inviting atmosphere is conductive to great conversation and even better make-out sessions. Plead your first-date case to the members-only bouncer and see if you can’t stretch out the evening. ● Casa La Femme (New York) – If you’re the dating type that needs a few props, this all-inclusive date spot is loaded with shiny distractions. Tent city flaunts belly-dancing beauties and unbeatable signature cocktails to spice things up. Décor is richly detailed, bearing a genuine elegance to mask the cliché sexiness of it all. ● Little Door (Los Angeles) – Deserving of its reputation as THE place to go on a date — whether you speak fluent or just cinematic French, mais oui. The courtyard will help you fall in love, the sexy candlelight will make you fall in lust, and the extensive drink list will take care of anything in between. ● Mayahuel (New York) – The goddess of agave may be on your side for a modern-day Spanish inquisition. Speakeasy vibe with serious, sexy decor, and food to match. Creative cocktails will impress mixology minors; opt for small, shareable plates and cozy up in a carved-out booth. ● August (New York) – For a date of the handholding variety, turn to this claustrophobic cave restaurant. In the fall, intimate garden and sweater weather inspire premature cuddling, which could lead to other things more mature. ● Bowery Hotel (New York) – Pretend you’re somebody as you whisk your date through the golden doors propped open by smiling bellhops. Good for blind dates, it’s a cozy spot where you can get closer, or direct your attention to Cameron Diaz getting blitzed at the bar. Swill red wine on vintage chairs, surrounded by downtown “it” people. It’s all very very, even if your date is very boring.

Brew Force: Hoppy Cocktailing at Mayahuel

The beer cocktail is the drink of the season — a love-child of heat and the bad economy. Mixologists (or “bar chefs,” if you must) are taking the beery punch and running with it. There’s no better way to soothe cranky, sweaty city dwellers living off less money than last year. Beer ‘tails are not new inventions. Our limey friends have enjoyed the shandy (beer and lemonade) for generations. In Mexico the michelada (beer, hot sauce, lime juice, and salt) was popularized in the 1940s. And let’s not forget the basest of the beer cocktails, the boilermaker, although it does tend to lead to plenty of forgetting. The beer cocktails of the modern era are more refined than their coarse predecessors. Sexed-up with ingredients like coffee, spices, liquors, and juices, the flavors this summer are sophisticated and palate-pleasing. Mixologist/owner Philip Ward of Mayahuel came up with El Jimador’s Shifty, a blend of pineapple mezcal, Negra Modelo, lime, and cayenne pepper. “Like a lot of good beer cocktails it’s spicy and refreshing, which is a great combination,” says Ward. Skip the Two Buck Chuck for your next dinner party and make up some of these instead. Your guests will be happily buzzed, and you might still save a buck or two.

El Jimador’s Shifty from Mayahuel .75 parts pineapple mezcal .25 parts cane syrup .5 parts lime remainder Negra Modelo Salt/sugar/cayenne pepper mixture for the rim.

Shake and serve in a pilsner glass with the salt/sugar/cayenne rim. Top with Negra Modelo and garnish with a lime wedge.

Michelada from Mayahuel 1 part sangrita mix (spicy drink mix made with tomato juice, orange juice, and spices) .75 parts lime juice remainder Negra Modelo Salt/sugar/cayenne pepper mixture for the rim.

Put two ice cubes in a pilsner glass with spicy rim. Add sangrita mix and lime juice. Fill with Negra Modelo.

Tequila! The Future of Drinking at Phil Ward & Ravi DeRossi’s Mayahuel

Tequila’s never been done enough justice. It’s informally known as either (A) the drink you do awful, terrible things on in college, after which you vow to never taste it again, or (B) a spirit imbibed by bottle-service embracing luddites who wouldn’t know a refined drink if they were bludgeoned over the head with a glass of it. Nightlife artist Ravi DeRossi and star bartender Phil Ward are changing all of that with Mayahuel, which might be the first bar truly dedicated to showing American drinkers why the stuff isn’t for the worst kind of exploits so much as the best kind of drinking. The place looks like an unearthed Aztec basement bar; dark, shadowy, and generally perfect for a mixology revolution.


What was the genesis of Mayahuel? Phil Ward: I think we were… Ravi DeRossi: Well, Phil’s got a story and I got to add some of the story too, it’s sort of the same, I’ll tell it really quick — I think we were talking one day about our menu at Death & Co., and out of how many cocktails, how many of them were tequila? PW: About 100. RDR: Just roughly, to make the numbers simple to understand. PW: Death & Co. was a place where people who knew cocktails were coming to drink cocktails. A lot of nights, 25% of the drinks would be tequila drinks. RDR: But our cocktail menu was only 5 or 10% tequila drinks. We thought it would be interesting do to a tequila bar. PW: I learned how to make drinks from classic drinks. When you read your books, there’re really no tequila or scotch cocktail recipes…most of those books were written before Prohibition, and tequila wasn’t introduced into the country until around the 1950s, a little bit right after Prohibition, right around WWII, ’cause people couldn’t get as much American whiskey. So they peddled and brought this swill across the border. It was really bad mixed stuff, because the market was there to sell anything. There’s a saying that everything with rye and gin has been done, and it’s not true, but there’s a degree of truth to it. As far as being a bartender goes, you know, making tequila drinks felt like something really original.

It’s innovative. PW: Yeah, and then you get right down to it: the stuff is delicious. RDR: I mean, also, it’s only in the last 10 years that tequila’s become more of a quality spirit. PW: But it’s right back to that first part; the first tequila that was imported to the country was garbage because they knew that people would drink anything because they wanted to get drunk. And then for a long time, up until…maybe even ten years ago…most of the tequila people were drinking was like Jose Cuervo, which wasn’t even a representation of 100% blue agave tequila. So it was really a misunderstood spirit. I almost wanted to call this place was “La Verdad,” “The Truth,” because tequila and mezcal were so misunderstood by people, and we’re here to teach them.

But hasn’t Patron recently kind of become a pop standard? I hear it’s not actually good stuff, as far as cocktails and connoisseurs are concerned. PW: When they first started producing, Patron was a quality product. The distiller, Siete Leguas – quality stuff – was the one producing Patron; but Patron got popular and decided they wanted to start outsourcing their agaves, and eventually outsourced their distilleries and decided to mass-market for profit.

And they can get away with it because the public doesn’t know… PW: Well, the public doesn’t care. Most drinkers—they see marketing and it’s just programmed and habit, it’s Stoli/Tonic, Patron, Jack and Coke, Johnny Walker Black on the rocks…most of the drinking, consuming public aren’t really that interested in what they’re drinking; it’s more about image and getting drunk. RDR: Until they become educated, which is sort of what Phil and I have set out to do.

How did you guys both get started doing what you’re doing now? RDR: We drank way too much. [Laughs] My background is all in arts, I was a painter and a writer, did a little bit of theater. I have a BFA in Fine Art Painting as well as theater, I started my masters in theater at Tisch and dropped out and went to a conservatory, and then I lived in LA, lived in Pasadena Arts Center for a while…How did I end up doing bars? It was after September 11th; I’ve only been doing this for five years. It became really difficult to sell paintings. I’d done really well, I was selling paintings for $10-20,000…and after September 11th it became really difficult, and I was sort of just fucking around, living off the money I had made, and I was like, “shit, I gotta do something.”

How did this place happen so quickly? Did you get trusted investors to help you out? RDR: No, I did it with my own money. I made some money off painting, then opened up my first little bar, which was a tiny old 20-seat Bourgeois Pig…the very first Bourgeois Pig. Because that’s what I new best at the time, wine and cheese and those kind of things, so I did that. Within three months, it was like a two to three hour wait, every night of the week. And it just grew from there.

Had you worked in the service industry before? RDR: I’d waited tables at some restaurants as I was doing theater.

What are some of the better lessons you have learned over the years the hard way? PW: I don’t know, I have to think about that for a second. We could be here all day talking about how many mistakes I’ve made.

Phil, where did you come from? How’d you get started doing all this? PW: Dumb luck. I was 28 in Pittsburgh, bored out of my mind, drinking myself to death…

What were you doing in Pittsburgh? PW: Just waiting tables, reading books, things like that. Just threw everything I owned away, brought a plane to Rome, was over in Europe and Africa for four months, just traveling. When I was running out of money, I bought a plane ticket back to New York instead of Pittsburgh because it was about $700 cheaper, and I had a friend who lived here and I visited one other weekend so I figured I’d stay here for a week before I went home and threw myself in front of a bus in Pittsburgh. And in the course of a week, one of her friends was going on tour with this band to Europe, so he offered me a $300 sublet in Bushwick, so I had a 30-day try-out for $300 in New York. I wound up just getting a job as a bartender at the Flatiron Lounge, and just started seeing what they were doing there, got interested in it. That was the neat thing about being unemployed in New York was almost like having a job looking for a job. Every day you could look on Craigslist and make your schedule four different ways.

And so how long did it take you to go from bar-back to bartender? PW: That might have been about six months.

And from Flatiron to Pegu? How did you get so interested in cocktails? PW: That’s really funny, because when I got hired as a bar-back, I got asked if I wanted to bartend, and I said, “No, I don’t want to bartend,” because bartending to me was serving vodka tonics and Miller Lites to douchebags in Pittsburgh. I just wanted to work behind a bar because it was fun, it was good money, I got to work at night, it was a pretty easy job. Not an easy job, but a good job, in my mind. But then I started watching them do all these things with drinks and I was like, “What the hell are you people doing? What are all these four-ingredient drinks and shit like this?” So, eventually, I started bartending there and I started playing around I just got really interested in it. I started getting cocktail book after cocktail book and it was cool, ’cause you just found all these old recipes.

How many years ago was that? PW: I think it was like six years ago. It was cool, because the thing is, when you have customers there, you can be like, “Look at this drink I found.” I always tell bartenders, “you have to learn to make classics,” because it teaches you balance and structure. After that, it’s easy. So I really got ingrained in that before I started making drinks. I worked in Flatiron for three years, and I think I only put four or five drinks on that menu. And at Pegu, for about a year and a half, I put a few more drinks on there. But it wasn’t until Death and Co. that I really started to put more drinks on there.

You’re getting a lot of first-timers not familiar with your product. Are they ordering the Mezcals? PW: I guarantee you that since we’ve opened, we’ve probably had over 1,000 people taste Mezcal for the first time. RDR: And probably half of them really enjoyed it. A lot of them don’t like it. People just aren’t ready to drink it. They drink it depending on how you’re serving it. Drinking it straight, people aren’t ready for it; but in a cocktail, people like it. PW: That’s the whole idea of cocktails; I think it’s the perfect vehicle to introduce people to different spirits. You can wean them on to it, rather than just hit them over the head with it. ‘Cause you don’t just wake up tomorrow and decide you’re going to drink peaty scotch, you have to learn to like peaty scotch. An acquired taste is a just reward for an effort put forth…you have to work to enjoy something.

Does anybody come in and try to order a regular drink, like a margarita? PW: A margarita is a gem. If people want a margarita here, we’ll make them one of the best margaritas they’ve ever had. RDR: But it’s not gonna be frozen, it’s not gonna, you know, be that– PW: It’s just a classic margarita.

Is it on the menu? PW: No. It’s one you didn’t have to put on the menu. It’s assumed. There’s tequila here; you should be able to get a margarita. The margarita is a modern-day miracle. It came about when people were drinking swill and garbage, and you had this beautiful drink called the margarita come out of that time. It’s a miracle, and it’s delicious.

What’s being most ordered? PW: A lot of things. There’s a lot of parity. A couple of the ones that have really been big-sellers are the La Vida Rosé, which is like a strawberry tequila sangria with rose, and the Watermelon-Sugar, which is tequila mezcal, fresh watermelon, lime… RDR: I wonder if that’s because those are the ones that are more fruit-based, or at least they read to be more fruity. PW: Yeah, I mean, those are the more easily accessible ones-—but one really complex boozy one that’s probably been one of our biggest-sellers is the Slight Detour; it’s jalapeno tequila, Mezcal, Resposado tequila, with Mole bitters. That would probably be one of the top five.

Móle bitters? PW: They’re made by Avery (and Janet) Glasser with Bittermens Bitters. They just commercially hit the market. RDR: Yeah, he’s an old friend of ours who’s just been making them and bringing them to us for years. He does actually some really interesting stuff, some grapefruit bitters, we use it at all of our bars.

What’s your favorite drink on the menu? PW: There’re too many different days, too many different things, and even yourself, you know the things–like, what’s your favorite food? Could you pick your favorite food? You just can’t do it. Different days, different moods. Favorite, best—the word in my book is “different.”

Is there a trend you’re seeing in people ordering? PW: I see people drinking a lot more tequila and mezcal.

Did you feel like opening with the tequila theme of it would be a bit risky? RDR: No, not at all. I think cocktails in general, at least the craft of good cocktails, I don’t think it’s risky at all. There’s only so few places you can get them, and I think everybody in New York City wants to be drinking good cocktails at this point. PW: Think about it: we’re doing a tequila cocktail bar. A) It’s never been done. B) You’re in a city where people love cocktails, that’s obvious; we’ve come from places where people love our cocktails, and people love tequila. So you’re banking on the cocktail crowd and the crowd who like to come and sip tequila. RDR: Yeah, I think this is sort of like a no-brainer. And really good Mexican food, who doesn’t like Mexican food? It’s the most approachable food in the country, I think.

And how’d you guys end up teaming up, again? PW: Uh… RDR: Long story, we were just drunk one night. Leave it at that.