Whatever happened to the great Latin-American bars where poets, writers, artists, and musicians gathered to drink, talk revolution, celebrate life, and sip to romance? Havana’s El Floridita and La Bodeguita del Medio, Mexico City’s Bar La Opera, and Rio de Janeiro’s Bar Luiz have achieved immortality for their storied pasts and famous visitors, but today they are overflowing with tourists. Conversely, in Antigua, Guatemala, Café No Sé, (which translates to “I Don’t Know”) has continued this narrative through music, food, and mezcal.
The first mezcal bar outside of Mexico, located in a tucked-away saloon, Café No Sé is where the history of Ilegal Mezcal began. Today, Ilegal Mezcal produces three varieties—Joven (young, un-aged), Reposado (rested 4 months), and Añejo (aged 13 months)—in the Tlacolula Valley of Oaxaca. The illicit spirit was coaxed across the U.S. border (don’t ask too many questions) to recreate Café No Se at Harvard & Stone’s R&D Bar for one week only.
The Ilegal Mezcal Café No Sé pop-up called Bar Ilegal began last night and runs through May 10, featuring live music, Ilegal Mezcal, Mexicali beer, infused mezcal, and other agave selections in the $3-13 range. Ilegal owner John Rexler will be on hand, bartender and Ilegal brand ambassador Gilbert Martinez will be behind the bar, and late night bites will be provided by James Beard American Classics recipient Guelaguetza Restaurant. The bar menu will consist of tacos, empanadas, and tostadas to fuel a night of tall tales, loud toasts, and the ethereal pop of bands like Puro Funk. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience a Latin-American watering hole, where what goes on inside, well, no sé, you’ll just have to experience it yourself.
Harvard & Stone, Bar Ilegal Pop-Up (May 4-10), 5221 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-466-6063