For this week’s review, I headed down to Chinatown — Doyers Street, specifically — to check out Pulqueria, Christopher and Heather Tierney’s new Mexican cocktail lounge and restaurant. The food pleasantly surprised me; standouts included the hibiscus flower enchiladas, a great mushroom quesadilla, and a nutty pumpkin-seed dip. But the exotic drinks are what will ultimately lure me back. Behold my five favorite ways to get sloshed at Pulqueria.
1. The flavored pulques. Obviously you gotta try the namesake offering. Pulque is made by fermenting the sap of agave plants, making it a distant, less alcoholic cousin to tequila. The plain version ($6) definitely has a twangy, fermented taste in the vein of kombucha, but the infused versions ($12) go down easily. My favorite of the bunch is the Sandia, colored bright pink thanks to watermelon juice. It’s like a summer picnic.
2. The Negroni Mexicano. My overall favorite cocktail ($14), however, was made with Aperol, mescal, sweet vermouth, and house bitters — it’s great for those who can’t quite get down with the more bitter, traditional Campari preparation. Nicely rounded with just a hint of smoke, it goes down nice and easy.
3. The Perfect Storm. A Dark and Stormy (Goslings rum, ginger beer, and lime) is my number-one favorite drink once the weather warms. I’ve seen variants of the cocktail before, but never had it with tequila, which this version employed. Add in a splash of agave nectar and it’s almost as good as the original. $14.
4. Margarita de la Casa. Pulqueria offers a number of margaritas, including a spicy one that changes daily (though the one I sampled — an electric green, cucumber-infused rendition — was somewhat questionable), but the classic ($14) is the way to go. It’s slightly different than the traditional prep, made with grapefruit bitters and a smoked salt rim. Fiesta!
5. Tomatillo Michelada. The classic michelada, a spice-spiked, ice-filled beer, is a bit of an acquired taste. If you can get down with Worcestershire, though, you’ll likely appreciate the ginormous tomatillo michelada ($11) with a green chile salt rim. It packs a punch, but in a positive way.