Cinco de Mayo festivities draw near, and are bound to grip every local drinker for a day of debauchery, celebrating the day in 1862 when the Mexicans vanquished the French in the Battle of Puebla. So it seemed right to take stock of the libations at the plucky new Southie hangout, Loco Taqueria and Oyster Bar.
After opening in January, the new resident of the overhauled Pan Asia space has been a pretty big hit with the neighborhood (killer tacos and solid raw bar offerings in a centralized location tend to be). And according to Will Falaro, one of the bar managers and overall “bar dude,” as he’s called, the point of the program was to build a cocktail and spirit list that would appeal to the younger crowds dominating Southie’s resurgent nightlife scene, as evidenced by the throngs gathering at sister restaurant Lincoln Tavern across the street.
“The whole crew, we built a room that was new to the neighborhood, something fun, a very casual group of people bringing something different to the neighborhood. The [cocktail] program announces that,” says Falaro.
Naturally, Loco employs a 70+ list of blanco, reposado, and añejo tequilas for its spread of margaritas, supplementing house-made triple sec for the syrupy bottled stuff in most cases. The exception, and the most interesting and non-traditional of the batch, is the Chica Loco, which employs Don Julio Blanco with Combier (touted as the “original” triple sec), passion fruit, and muddled strawberries and cucumber, topped off with a splash of Spanish Cava rosé sparkling wine. While the drink is normally relegated to the brunch menu, requests for micheladas, which the team can whip up at any time, have been steadily on the rise during dinner service as well.
“Everything is very approachable,” says Falaro. “You think of tacos, tequila, and oysters. To me that screams casual. Fun. That’s what we wanted to do from the cocktails to the beer to the atmosphere.”
Which isn’t to say it’s all tequila here. Loco carries a still-growing lineup of mezcals, and uses the smoky spirit to solid effect in several offerings: El Chulo—with Pelotón de la Muerte mezcal, El Jimador reposado tequila, orange peel, bitters, and sugar—is a sort of go-to Tijuana Old-Fashioned, and if you’ve got a thing for Moscow Mules, El Tonto (otherwise known as the Smokey Mule) is another mezcal incarnation to off-set some of the fruitier and easier-on-the-palate options. See: the Rainbow Dragon, a tequila-fueled version of a Mai Tai that’s made with orgeat syrup and topped with Plantation Rum, or the already popular Coco, a coconut margarita.
“The city has only seen the tequila boom in the last 10 years,” says Falaro. “This neighborhood is demographically [comprised of] 23- to 28-year-olds, our bread and butter. We didn’t think that [mezcal] would be something our customers would be into.” But now that the doors have been open for a few months, and the majority of tequilas and mezcal are being steadily consumed by the local contingent en masse, says Falaro: “It’s [been] a pleasant surprise.”