The Early Word–Mayahuel


Outside Mayahuel–named for the Aztec goddess of agave–on a Friday night

We stopped by Mayahuel, Phil Ward’s new tequila-and-mezcal-focused cocktail bar on Friday night. It was only about 8pm, and not too busy, so we were able to snag a table upstairs. Downstairs, the low-ceilinged space is very dark, with black and white tile work, wrought iron work and dark wood booths and bar–it reminded me of old Mexican restaurants in LA: very appealing. Up a small flight of stairs, there’s an even smaller room, packed with tables and gray velvet upholstered banquettes. The walls (purposefully) look like they are decaying, and there’s a huge tarantula-shaped stained glass light fixture on the ceiling, and stained glass windows.

There are several beer cocktails, punch, cocktails made with tea-infused tequila, agave de frescos (essentially tequila and/or mezcal with fresh fruit juices) and something called strange stirrings. We got two cocktails from that last section.

The Slynx was made of reposado tequila, bonded applejack, pear and whiskey barrel bitters with a mezcal rinse, and garnished with a orange twist. It was very strong, and smoky from the mezcal: a sip felt like smoke vapor was going right up your nose, but well balanced and fairly tasty. I think it would have been a good after-dinner drink.

We also got a Slight Detour, a mix of jalapeno tequila, reposado tequila and joven mezcal with agave nectar and xoxolatl bitters, garnished with a slice of pear. It was sweet and very smooth, with just a tickle of green heat from the jalapeno. Both cocktails were $13. We didn’t try the food, but I have to say that none of it looked that interesting (tacos, plantain chips, etc), except the popcorn dusted with cotija cheese and chile powder. For only $3, that sounds like a good drinking snack.

I’d go back here again, particularly with a friend visiting from out of town: the drinks are well-conceived, and the setting is a kind of south of the border fantasia that manages to be interesting and fun, not cheesy. On the other hand, I don’t think I’d stand in line to get in. Go at a non-peak time to enjoy it.

We ended our night at Blue and Gold Bar (79 East Seventh), where pours of single malt whiskey are $4.

304 East Sixth Street