Whether you’re a fan of Red O or not, there is no denying the popularity of the Rick Bayless' Mexican eatery on any given night. Crowds gather near the paparazzi in the hope of getting past the doorman with a reservation. They have recently added a large outdoor patio off the tequila bar to help with the throngs of margarita and sopes lovers.
Enter bartender Steve Calabro who is not a mixologist, but a guy who loves making cocktails. Calabro is adding three new libations to the menu at Red O and The Feast was first up for a sneak peak.
The drinks were all named from Loteria cards, so the Devil's Kiss is among the quirky titles. Consisting of chocolate and coffee liquor, Aztec chocolate bitters, Mescal and arbor chile, “This is a layered drink and what makes it is the toasted and soaked chili,” says Calabro.
Among other newbies are the champagne cocktail which is not your Grandmother’s version, but made with rhubarb bitters, sugar in the raw, pomegranate juice Parma liqueur, prosecco and a lemon twist. “This is not a boring old champagne cocktail,” notes Calabro.
Steve is also developing another cocktail with the hoja-santa herb, with a sarsaparilla flavor, that was widely used in making root-beer – this is also used in their goat-cheese cake and is wonderful infused with vanilla.
“I actually wanted to be a chef, but I ran out of money and life happens,” says Calabro who can tell you how to infuse almost anything with tequila in ten minutes or less. Now he seems content creating meals in a glass and teaches a bar tenders boot camp for others sharing a passion for the trade.
When he’s not rimming a glass with a spicy Tajin salt mixture, he’s grinding up a little chocolate for a dusting over the top that is custom made in Mexico exclusively for Rick Bayless. “It’s been so much fun working here and creating this drinks with Chef Bayless, he says.”
One of the tired and tested that is not coming off the menu, is the Maceta made with Arette white tequila, organic Mexican papaya puree, fresh lime, lemon zest and an organic blue rosemary that the bartender makes a simple syrup out of at home with bounty from his garden in Toluca Lake. “It’s a marriage of the papaya and lime, everyone is getting along in this drink,” laughs Calabro. [The Feast]