Tag Archives: mezcal

Mixologist Jay Schroeder is Here to Delight You with Cocktails

We’re toasting the forthcoming release of Food & Wine’s 2015 Cocktails book, which features recipe contributions from our very own mixologist and bar manager Jay Schroeder.

“They reached out and asked me about agave spirits cocktails, that’s kind of my forte, so I went ahead and sent some recipes out to them … I used some different spirits and some things that I think are up-and-coming and deserving of a lot of recognition, but also made sure the cocktails were really approachable for those making them at home,” he said.

Schroeder, a resident of Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood, joined the Frontera team in 2013, bringing with him a deep knowledge of tequila, lesser-known mezcal and the even lesser-known sotol, a grassy Mexican distilled spirit he describes as “vegetal and superfunky.”

No surprise, those spirits are featured prominently in Frontera’s bar program, where he creates inspired, seasonal cocktails that routinely impress our guests — just look at this cocktail menu — and in the pages of Food & Wine’s glossy recipe book, which contains more than 150 drink recipes supplied by 25 of the nation’s “rising star” mixologists.

Jay’s contributions include:

  • Magnetic Pole Reversal – A sotol-based cocktail made with a basil-cucumber puree
  • To Alleviate Apparent Death – Made with guajillo chile and añejo tequila-soaked dark cocoa beans
  • Pastorela – A beer-and-tequila cocktail made with a syrup derived from chile powder and Latin American sugar
  • All Quiet – Made with sotol and neroli oil, an essential oil extracted from bitter-orange blossoms

We’re so proud of our man behind the bar that we feel compelled to have a drink. Here’s Jay’s recipe for the Pastorela:

Makes 1
4 oz. Negra Modelo beer
1 oz. añejo tequila
1 oz. panela syrup (recipe below)
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1 orange twist, preferably spiral cut for garnish

Pour the beer into a large chilled wine glass. In a cocktail shaker, combine the tequila, panela syrup and lime juice. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into the wine glass and garnish with the orange twist.

Panela Syrup
In a medium saucepan, combine 10 oz. chopped dark panela (aka piloncillo or unrefined cane sugar), 1/3 cup peeled and chopped fresh ginger, 2/3 cup water, 2 tsp. ancho powder, 1 1/4 tsp. whole cloves and the zest from one orange.

Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the canela is dissolved and the syrup is very fragrant, about 7 minute. Let cool, then pour through a fine strainer into  a jar. If desired, strain the syrup again through cheesecloth to remove any residual ancho powder. Refrigerate for up to two weeks. Makes about 8 oz.


Say Hola to Bar Sótano

We’ve got some news.

Rick & Deann Bayless, along with the Frontera Group’s beverage director (and their daughter) Lanie Bayless, will soon open an agave-focused, late night cocktail bar in the basement—in the sótano—of Frontera Grill.

Technically located at 443 N. Clark St., Bar Sótano will be accessible by a century-old freight elevator located in the alley behind Frontera Grill. It is slated to open November 15.

The cocktail menu—inspired by the unparalleled bounty of Mexico’s markets—is punctuated by uniquely crafted mezcal and tequila drinks, all developed by Frontera spirits director Lanie Bayless and bar manager Roger Landes. Health-promoting herbs marry in a homemade vermouth. Sugar cane is squeezed fresh for a touch of sweetness.  Chiles and fruits play off each other. The flavors of aromatic tacos al pastor even make an appearance in libation form. 

The Sótano team travelled to Ejutla, Oaxaca, to blend a one-of-a-kind mezcal from barril and espadin agaves to take these cocktails to a new level. Like your mezcal neat? You can bet there will be one of the largest selections in the country. Not into mezcal? There will be a selection of Mexican wines by the glass and Mexican craft beer. 

Chef Rishi Manoj Kumar, a veteran of Topolobampo, developed a menu of modern Mexican bar food that includes charcutería and snacks (homemade suckling pig ham and panela cheese, pickled pigs feet spread, tlayudas, Oaxacan roasted peanuts), sweet-and-spicy Yucatán fried chicken, Ensenada mussels cooked with garlic and Baja wine, fresh and broiled oysters and a cooked-to-order arroz (think: paella with the flavors of Mexican chorizo and Gulf shrimp.)

Bar Sótano’s lifeline is the vibrant markets of Mexico, where fruit stalls, healthy herb stands and chile vendors swirl in a symphony for the senses. The craftsmanship of those who keep these Mexican flavors alive — including those who craft dozens of agave varieties into distillates — is unlike any in the world. Bar Sótano will reflect this side of Mexico’s exhilarating culture,” Rick Bayless said.

When you visit the intimate, 50-seat bar, you know right away that you’re in a classic late-1800’s downtown Chicago basement, rock walls and all. Muralist Juan de la Mora, from the Jeanne Gang studio, has created a floor-to-ceiling piece for the space.  This is will be Bayless’ sixth Chicago outpost and the latest addition to River North’s bustling nightlife scene. A limited amount of reservations will soon be made available on the Reserve app and by phone.

Website: barsotano.com
Phone:  312-391-5857
Hours: 4pm-12am, Tuesday-Thursday; 4pm-2am, Friday & Saturday; Closed Sunday & Monday