Smoke and Fire

Loló raids its liquor cabinet for us

If you're looking for a story with your drink, talk to David Gallardo, bar manager at Loló, about mezcal.

When Jorge Martinez and Lorena Zertuche's explosively colorful Mexican restaurant moved to Valencia Street, they installed a compact "agave bar" next to the kitchen. There, the curious can taste their way through Loló's growing collection of tiny-production mezcales.

For us, Gallardo lined up a half-dozen (minuscule) shots, each with its own back story:

For the Mezcal Vago Elote ($15), produced in Oaxaca, Gallardo says the producers fill the still between the second and third distillations with toasted sweet corn, enhancing the spirit's smoky flavor and creamy finish.

David Gallardo and fellow bartender Leon Vasquez at the agave bar

The staff favorite? The Del Maguey Arroqueño ($25). Made from semi-wild agave roasted in a conical pit and then buried for three days, it has a raw-boned, earthy character reminiscent of Laphroaig.

Loló's collection of agave-based spirits–sotols, Bacanoras, vinos de mezcal—extends beyond mezcal's official appellation of origin.

The complex and surprisingly food-friendly Wahaka Vino de Mezcal Espadilla de Pechuga ($30) from Puebla is distilled with mole sauce and, yes, chicken breast, a traditional technique. No more than 25 bottles of it have made their way to the United States.

You think that's unique? Ask the bar for a shot of the one distilled in a car radiator.