Mexico-Bound

Revelatory sips from Masa Azul's stellar tequila list

You won't find Cuervo on the wall of tequila bottles at Logan Square's new Masa Azul.

The restaurant is devoted to the cuisine of the Southwest and the spirits of Mexico: tequila, mezcal and sotol, and only small-batch, artisan versions of each.

Owner Jason Lerner composed the list of 75 tequilas, each labeled with its Norma Oficial Mexicana, the number of the distillery where each is made. Try the Corazon blanco ($6) and the Carmessi reposado ($9) for two tastes of the same distillery; or taste reposado or añejo from Siete Leguas, a historic distillery that first produced Patrón.

Lerner is currently securing distribution rights for Don Cuco sotol, a traditional spirit made in Chihuahua. Once available, it will be served, as the tequila is, in Riedel glasses to inspire sipping.

Jenny Kessler turns the tequila into cocktails, including a brightly spiced habanero lemonade with fresh chiles muddled with Hum- and Mexican vanilla-soaked cherries, and El Jardin (pictured), made with two tequilas, maraschino, passion fruit and blood orange, and topped with a fragrant bundle of thyme.

Kessler's Latin Manhattan is testament to the spirit's versatility. Made with Fortaleza reposado and Nardini amaro, it's a sleek midpoint between a Manhattan and a Martinez.

Masa Azul, 2901 W. Diversey Ave.; 773-687-0300 or masaazul.com