The Dallas Morning News

MR. DALLAS

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What was just a cramped descending feeder to Woodall Rodgers Freeway now gives motorists cause to slow, look and even pull in.

Meso Maya’s appeal extends beyond its central Mexican cuisine and Martinez ( El Fenix) family history to a cocktail menu that applies agave spirits to classic cocktail variations. General manager Albert Hernandez wanted to develop a list that would pull diners away from rote accompanim­ents (beer, margaritas) to the food and also tempt drinkers who prize brown-liquor concoction­s.

“We figured the downtown customer might have different tastes,” Hernandez says, so he added three cocktails not found at Meso Maya’s North Dallas location — the Hibiscus Sour, Hand Shaken Piña Colada and El Viejito.

That last is a charming revelation, a south-of-the-border interpreta­tion of the Old-Fashioned. Measures of Los Nahuales Mezcal Reposado and Herradura Añejo tequila ably take the part of rye or bourbon. Agave nectar stands in for simple syrup. Ingredient­s are stirred with ice in one glass, then deposited into another filled with crushed ice. Orange bitters and orange zest complete the arrangemen­t.

Hernandez says he originally used mescal alone, but the results didn’t quite sing. He fretted over “that ‘Band-Aid-y’ taste people complain about.” The aged tequila leavens the smoky mescal and yields a cocktail that rewards repeated returns.

It costs $10.

Meso Maya, 1611 McKinney Ave. at Caroline, Dallas. 214-484-6555. mesomaya.com.

mrdallas@guidelive.com Follow Mr. Dallas on Twitter at @misterdall­asvip.

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