all words: Marie Formica all photos: Brandon Weight
Rosa Mexicano unveiled its unbelievable seasonal cocktail menu last week, working with master craft bartenders in LA to develop what will ultimately become some of your favorite drinks this summer. The Penn Quarter staple exists in trendy locales including New York, LA, Miami, Boston, Atlanta, San Fran and Panama City, and their flavor influences reach beyond that. They applied their 2013 “Flavor of Mexico” program, a menu to cocktails. Brooke, Rosa Mexicano’s corporate director and developer of cocktails, whipped up each one of these fresh selections up while we waited, drooling andd munching on sweet strips of candied bacon.
First and all-around favorite served was the frozen bourbon horchata, poured into our glasses from a machine hidden in a cutaway cubby in the wooden bar. Blended almond milk, rice milk, vanilla bean and other sweet ingredients are combined with Buffalo Trace Kentucky bourbon and topped with shaved lime and cinnamon, all served up with an extra shot (!!!!) of bourbon on the side. A cinnamon stick planted in the drink can help you (a) swirl in your extra bourbon or (b) use it like a spoon to eat the frozen mix. This tasted dangerously like Christmas. I highly recommend it.
Rosa Mexicano’s remix of a Moscow Mule (predictably called a Mexican Mule) was a simple, yet refreshing spin on a classic drink. Mezcal, Herradura silver tequila, fresh lime and Fever Tree ginger beer served in a mason jar- what’s bad about that? Nothing, that’s what. This was especially good paired with their house made spicy caramel popcorn, a way better substitute to bar nuts. But who am I kidding, the Mexican Mule would pair well with almost anything. While waiting for the next few cocktails, I sampled some of the guacamole served in an enormous lava rock molcajete. The guac was comprised of the usual good-guac flavors (avocado, lime, cilantro) but it also surprised with red grape halves and blue cheese chunks. Take that for what you will.
So, if you were you hoping for a stoddy sangria, it’s not happening. This summer, they’re serving something much better: punch. Get past the vintage punches of the Gatsby era and banish from your mind the images of college-style “punch” you were over-served at that one party. Rosa Mexicano’s punch packs it. You get a big bowl serving 4-6 (depending on the generosity of your pour) in two different varieties: Papaya Pineapple punch, the sweeter of the two, mixes rum, cointreau, cava, papaya, pineapple, starfruit, lime and- wait for it- coconut ice. The coconut ice really ties this drink together. Honeydew cucumber jalapeno punch, the more savory and refreshing, leaves smokey flavor in the back of your throat (courtesy of mezcal) while the house made jalapeno simple syrup snuck in a spicy bite.
Rosa Mexicano’s Art of Mexican Mixology ended with two “desserts,” so to speak. There was the unexpectedly sour, smokey root beer float (made over a scoop of vanilla with artisinal root beer) and one of the freshest, sweetest contenders in the cocktail menu: raspberry lemonade (made with simple syrup, El Jimador silver tequila, fresh raspberry and lemon, which created a vaguely rosewater flavor).