El Mero Taco opens a mezcaleria bar in its Cordova store in Memphis

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Memphis has a new mezcaleria.

If you’re wondering what it is exactly, this is a bar that focuses on mezcal spirits.

Taco El Mero owners Jacob and Clarissa Dries have transformed one side of their Cordova taco store into a bar that houses a large library of agave spirits. There are over 28 bottles of mezcal alone, in addition to a selection of other agave spirits.

In partnership with cocktail consultants based in Nashville PourTaste, El Mero first imported a number of agave spirits into the city. The bartenders at this elevated cocktail bar not only prepare cocktails, but they also educate patrons by introducing them to the history and heritage of Mexican spirits and drinking traditions.

Inside the El Mero Taco restaurant in Cordova, Tenn., On Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

The decision to focus the bar on mezcal and agave spirits is tied to Clarissa’s legacy in Oaxaca.

Clarissa grew up on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, in the city of Huatulco. Her family still lives there and, like her and her husband Jacob, they run restaurants.

“We’ve always been intrigued to bring more of the Oaxacan element to our restaurant,” said Jacob. “This bar is something different and a great tribute to Oaxacan culture.”

In El Mero, the bar is full of many small production labels. In the true artisanal and artisanal method, some of the bottles come from remote villages. El Mero may only be able to buy one of these bottles per year at the restaurant.

Attention is paid to every detail with the new line of craft cocktails – the list includes homemade syrups, freshly squeezed juices, specialty ice cubes, and intricate toppings associated specifically with each cocktail.

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El Mero Taco owners Clarissa and Jacob Dries at their restaurant in Cordova, Tennessee on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

What is mezcal

Mezcal is a clear alcohol that comes from the agave plant. Very similar to the world of wine, there are many grape varieties, or types, of agave plants used.

Technically, tequila is a mezcal. While mezcal and tequila are both made from agave, this is where the similarities end. The two Mexican spirits are distilled differently, made from different agave grapes (tequila can only be made with the blue agave grape), and come from different regions.

“Similar to the world of wine, the grape variety you use and the region in which it is ultimately grown showcases character,” said Jon Yeager, founder of PourTaste. “Agaves are harvested and then roasted in underground pits. Due to this step, mezcal is inherently a smoky spirit, but there are many characteristics beyond the smoke. Some mezcals can be very fruity and shiny, of others may be grassy, ​​earthy, and heavier. “

Jacob said mezcal is one of the few categories of spirits whose production methods have remained unchanged for centuries.

“Mezcal is different from tequila,” Jacob said. “Like Armagnac, it is one of the rare spirits to be produced in the same way as originally.

Mezcal can be drunk pure, on its own. Traditionally, it is sipped (or shot) in small clay cups called copitas.

Mezcal is also a wonderful base for cocktails, bringing nuance and layers to the drink. Yeager worked with the El Mero team to develop a menu of creative and handcrafted cocktails showcasing mezcal.

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The Pina Morada cocktail at El Mero Taco in Cordova, Tennessee on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

The story of El Mero Taco

Jacob and Clarissa made a name for themselves by combining their Oaxacan heritage with their Southern roots, first through an award-winning food truck and now through their brick and mortar location.

In addition to the bar, the couple have also stepped up their food offerings.

The southern fried chicken taco that put El Mero on the menu remains on the menu, but now creative new tacos like a blackened catfish taco with pickled coleslaw, fresh pico de gallo and homemade smoked habanero and a taco. with steak and potatoes topped with a Salsa Macha made with roasted peanuts, arbol peppers and spices are among the new offers.

Oaxacan mole fries, sweet potato flautas, and tacos made with homemade green chorizo ​​(a Mexican delicacy from Toluca, Mexico) showcase the couple’s fused Southern and Mexican roots.

Take-out take-out is also available. Jacob said they are working to expand their take-out line. “It was so that customers could come over for dinner and take home something to warm up another day,” he said.

Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.

In one look

Taco El Mero

Or: 8100 Macon Station Road, Suite 102, Cordoba

Hours: from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Friday to Saturday; closed Sunday-Monday

Call: (901) 308-1661

Online: elmerotaco.com

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