|Hangeando Con Mabel Casa Mezcal|
Casa Mezcal & Botanic Lab
Being a New Yorker, I’m always looking for hidden gems around the city. Whether it’s a bar, lounge or restaurant, these low-key spots have something really unique about them. On a recent Saturday night I stumbled into Casa Mezcal in the Lower Eastside, a restaurant, bar, art gallery, performance venue and a lounge all in one building
Casa Mezcal is small but has a fun and lively ambiance, starting with the décor. The owner, Guillermo Olguín is a well-known Mexican artist who decorated Casa Mezcal to have a bit of an artsy vibe. At the bar, there are trinkets and antiques from places all around the world. You’ll see everything from Japanese porcelain figures to Day of the Dead items and even a large turkey right in the center of the bar. The manager, Martin Capella, describes Casa Mezcal as “a little of Oaxaca [in] New York City.” “It’s a mezcaleria, like an old school pharmacy and Oaxaca is one of the richest places south of Mexico,” he said.
As for the food, the tacos and the green ceviche are highly recommended. My absolute favorite was the tasajo (steak) tacos topped simply with onions, cilantro and lime on corn tortillas ($12.50). It was 3 simple tacos but so delicious that I enjoyed every bite. The green ceviche ($16.00) is a special dish off the summer menu and it came with a side of chips. The seafood was fresh and great for sharing.
Once I finished up on the main floor, I headed downstairs to Botanic Lab for some cocktails. The Botanic Lab opened about 7 months ago and renowned mixologist, Miguel Aranda is the brain behind the drinks. This lounge is different than most bars and lounges. At Botanic Lab you get a taste of cocktails mixed with fresh spices, herbs, house made bitters and performances. They don’t call it “Botanic Lab” for nothing. “We got into the spices, herbs, and infusions [then] I put it together with this concept,” Aranda told Urban Latino. “We experiment a lot with flavors, it’s like a test kitchen.”
With summer on the way, Aranda prepared the “Cucumber Rumbo” ($14) it was a mix of FAIR Quinoa organic Vodka, fresh lime juice, cucumber extract, Velvet Falernum and Club Soda with a cucumber on top. This cocktail is so refreshing and fresh that I’m sure it’s going to be a hit as the weather gets warmer.
Every Saturday night Botanic Lab has pop-up performances like burlesque, samba, fire breathers, DJs and more. There’s no schedule of events so you never know what to expect and there’s no cover. This weekend I suggest trying something new like the food at Casa Mezcal and the creative drinks at Botanic Lab. What better way to ring in Cinco de Mayo than with performances, tacos and a few drinks?