Agave Amor

Reunite yourself with tequila at Mayahuel

When drinkers tell Phil Ward they don't like tequila–plastic bottles of bad collegiate booze still knocking about their brains–his answer is always "you haven't actually tasted tequila." But you will at Mayahuel, his new East Village bar, which is wholeheartedly dedicated to Mexico's national spirit.

There he uses tequila (and its smoky brother, mezcal) in ways that will surprise even the most agave-adept drinker: paired with Campari, amaro and bitters in a quaff called the Cobbler; infused with raspberry tea and splashed with cava; or blended with vermouth in a jalapeño-spiked sangria.

Sometimes the two spirits harmonize in the same drink, as in the musky Smoked Palomino or the simple, wonderfully salty-savory Watermelon Sugar (click here to download the recipe).

There's also a short suite of upscale Mexican street food–spicy pork tacos made with delicate white-corn tortillas, mango-salsa quesadillas, tiny tamales–meant to pair well with any tequila-based drink. 

Everything but a margarita, that is, since right now there's not one on the menu. But with two dozen other agave-based cocktails on offer (all $13), you're not going to miss your margs at all.

Mayahuel, 304 E. Sixth St. (at Second Ave.); 212-253-5888 or mayahuelny.com