The Dallas Morning News - - NIGHTCLUBS -

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. me­so­

mrdal­[email protected] Fol­low Mr. Dal­las on Twit­ter at @mis­terdal­lasvip.

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