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.
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