"I tasted every grapefruit soda out there and landed on Jarritos [Toronja]," said new bar guy Edgar Najera when asked about his happy hour Paloma. We appreciate his having done all the work for us as the result is a spectacularly simple symbiosis (so sorry) of two ingredients: Jarritos and the bar's well tequila, Cimarron. If the drink is more popular in Mexico than the locally beloved margarita, this is why. Get on it as your next summer go-to.
Though not necessarily at the expense of the Mezcaleria's marg. If you'd like to do it yourself, here's the recipe: 1 1/2 ounces blanco tequila, 1/2 ounce Gran Gala orange liqueur, 1 ounce fresh lime juice, 1/2 ounce simple syrup. Shake hard and serve over rocks. But we think you'll be happier letting Najera or his staff shake it for you. Here, the almost-too-familiar drink takes on new, crisper and leaner life. Check it out.
The remaining happy hour cocktail special (they're all $5) is a Michelada, Pacifico the default beer, for which Najera concocts a mix that includes tomato, onion, bay leaf, cilantro, Salsa Maggi and Valentina. (In Mexico, it's not so much about tomato, says Najera, but for here ... ). Of the three, this is my least favorite, though not by far — but maybe that's because I just prefer tequila. Beer hounds will appreciate that there are select beers on happy hour, too, at a buck or two off.
There aren't any special happy hour munchies here, but not to worry here, either, as the regular menu offers up plenty of options at modest prices. The crackling chicharrones ($5) with lime and Valentina may be the perfect bar snack; they're airy yet filling, and you can calibrate the heat. Peskier to eat due to their sticky coating, the cacahuates with lime and chamoy are equally addicting. Same goes for the chiles toreados (roasted serranos and jalapeños) simply presented with lime and Maggi.
New cocktails will continue to roll out on the regular menu. Najera says he's working on a brunch Vampiro with achiote syrup, for example. If you want to ease into achiote, you can already sample the Agave y Achiote ($9) with either tequila or mezcal and achiote citrus syrup. Given the choice, we will often opt for mezcal (Union is the well brand) and here thought that the earthier agave might play well with achiote's rusty, almost metallic quality. It does. Remove the face-tickling cilantro garnish and get up-close and personal with Mixtli's nueva onda.