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Up Your Bartender Game: Five Occasional Cocktails

By June 11, 2020October 20th, 2020No Comments
Written by: Niko Loyatho

I was a craft bartender in Los Angeles and New York for a lot of years. These were the swanky sort of watering holes that used words like “libation” and “elixir”. Back bars were botanical gardens of bottles unrecognizable to a layman. The “speakeasy” cocktail bar has firmly anchored itself in the rituals of modern life. With few exceptions they’re dimly lit and decorated like a period-movie film set. You can come to one of these bars where a barman in a costume (that are actually his real clothes) will yammer on unsolicited about this bottle or that cocktail just to show off what he knows. Staying informed of the ever-changing craft spirits world is a job unto itself, and under ordinary circumstances, any sensible person would volunteer how few of the bottles they recognize at this sort of bar. However, the irony of these basement-real-estate-Ponzi-schemes is that they tend to muster the grade-school social situations that make a person afraid to admit any inadequacy whatsoever. You don’t go for twenty-three-dollar cocktails (served in a thimble) with your drinking buddy or your kid sister; you go on a date, or with co-workers, or to entertain a client. It’s almost always someone with whom you maintain a certain desire to impress. In such a state your voice is higher and your actions are too eager. Betraying that all you see behind the bartender is a shelf stack of hieroglyphs would be fatally uncultured.

So when the busy bartender finally gets to you in the crowd, you unknowingly commit a bartender’s least favorite faux pas: you look up from the menu, you manufacture an expression that you hope says you understand this thing that’s clearly written in Sanskrit, and you say,

“What’s your favorite drink?”

If this is in Flatiron Manhattan at a particularly popular whiskey haven circa 2013, this musketeer-looking character will say,

“That’s like hiring someone to paint your house and asking them for their favorite color.”

You’re startled and not sure how to respond. Your date is watching. When the bartender turns back after attending to several items that his body language mimes are vastly more important than you, you try to fix it,

“No, I mean what’s your favorite drink, like, to make?”

You’re cool, that’s your point. You’re a great customer. In fact this was a charitable endeavor from the start, to make things easier for the bartender. You don’t want him to do anything for you that he doesn’t want to do.

“Oh, a painter’s favorite color to paint. Much better,”

…says this supercilious sack of waxed mustache. But your indignation probably doesn’t set in until much later.

Yep, that was me. In the plumed hat, too busy or bothered to help a fella out. After so many years, I’m not going to defend myself. I’ll just answer the question.

I drink up and down the spectrum. The occasion of where, when, and with whom prescribes the what. There’s no finite number or variety of occasions. Fine dining, one must pair with wine. With my last girlfriend we usually drank brandy or sherry—now even their smell can call to mind my nights with her much like songs can summon memories. When I’m back at my home bar in Brooklyn, I drink whatever cocktail Devin, the proprietor, is working on for the menu. With old hockey teammates I drink beer. I have to be entertaining fanciful notions of earldom to call for an expensive scotch, and I sometimes do. On Cinco I drink anything Nosotros. Home is bourbon. A group of my best friends take a ski trip every year on which we observe a masochistic tradition of Fireball shots and Bud Light (historically, one or another of us cretins is in a state of crisis at the time of the trip and instigates us through a whole handle of cinnamon fungicide before the end of night one).

After a phase of fanaticism and self-righteousness, a “mixologist” generally grows up and remembers a bartender with all the knowledge in the world is still a bartender. And what that is really, is a people-tender—which calls for intuiting when a guest is seeking ego-friendly assistance. Eventually, when faced with a bartender’s least favorite question, I said something like this:

“It depends on the occasion. What’s the occasion today?”

For a bespoken cocktail, my next question was usually,

“How hungry are you?”

Since we here at Nosotros Tequila traffic in shots and cocktails, below are five different cocktails by an occasion that calls for them. You can buy your main ingredient HERE.

Far East Fashioned

It’s the end of the night. It’s cigar hour. It’s time for something with cojones.


  • 2 oz peanut-washed Nosotros Reposado*
  • .5oz honey
  • 4-5 dash Hellfire or Firewater bitters


  • Build in glass with ice
  • Stir with bar spoon for 20-30 seconds


*Peanut-washed Reposado
Soak 2 cups of peanuts in one 750ml bottle of Nosotros Reposado
Let sit for 48 hours


2020 Do-Over

Chuggable. When you’re in the mood for slamming margaritas with your people on a summer day, but it’s March and you’re in quarantine.
Course Drinks


  • 2 oz Nosotros Tequila Blanco or Reposado
  • 1.5 oz Green Apple Shrub* See notes for recipe
  • .75 oz orange liqueur
  • .75 oz lemon


  • Shake with ice
  • Served up in a coupe
  • Garnish with pinch of cinnamon and a green apple slice


*Green apple shrub
1 cup green apples cubed
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Combine ingredients
Muddle apples and stir in sugar
Let sit 24 hours before straining out solids
Keyword 2020, blanco, calories, cocktail, green apple, margarita, reposado, summer, tequila

Rasta Mañana

You’re hungry but the kitchen’s closed? But you’re also not done drinking? Check out the beer menu or this beer cocktail for a little more caloric heft in your drink.
Course Drinks


  • 1 oz blanco
  • .75 oz lime
  • .75 oz molasses syrup 1:1 water:molasses
  • 1 oz pineapple
  • 3-4 oz amber ale


  • add all ingredients (save the amber ale) to tin and shake
  • add amber ale to tin
  • strain into a Collins glass over ice
  • garnish with a pineapple frond
Keyword blanco, calories, cocktail, summer, tequila

Street Corn

An aperitif, like an amuse-bouche, teases the appetite for a meal to come. Intrigue your dinner guests by making them a cocktail like they’ve never had to accompany their chips and guacamole.


  • 1.75 oz corn macerated blanco tequila*
  • .25 oz mezcal
  • 1.5 oz corn juice*
  • .5 oz lime
  • .5 oz honey
  • 1 Egg white
  • Tajin and minced cilantro sprinkle


*Corn-macerated blanco:
  • Combine 750ml of Nosotros Blanco with 1 cup of cooked corn (canned or stripped off the cob)
  • Let soak for 48 hours
  • Strain out and discard corn
*Corn juice:
  • Blend one cup of corn with one cup of water
  • Strain
Keyword calories, cocktail, corn, drink, elote, heavy, hungry, mexican, tequila


Me Gusta Cinco

A cocktail this adventurous is the occasion. Only invite your cool friends.


  • 1.75 oz peanut washed reposado soak 2 cups of peanuts in one 750ml bottle for 48 hours
  • .75oz lime
  • .75oz strawberry juice
  • .5oz Worcestershire strawberry shrub* see notes for recipe


  • Shake with ice
  • Strain and pour over fresh ice


*Worcestershire strawberry shrub
1 pound of strawberries, hulled and cubed
½ cup of distilled white vinegar
½ cup of Lea & Perrin’s Original Worcestershire
½ cup of sugar

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