WHERE DRINKS IN SILVER LAKE SOAR!
On a summer day or night, who doesn’t love saddling up to a bar for a good stiff yet refreshing drink? Have that cocktail along with some Mexican food, or at least some hearty chips, salsa and guacamole to fuel you while you imbide, and good times will follow.
I recently spent my birthday really cozy at the El Condor bar with a good friend and El Condor GM and Bar Director Ellen Rehak as I toasted a new year and worked my way down the brief yet impressive cocktail menu. Housed in the former El Conquistador space on Sunset Boulevard, the El Condor interior has been widened and brightened (yeah, sunlight, and lots of it, manage to make its way inside). The brainchild from the folks who brought us L&E Oyster Bar and Covell Wine Bar, El Condor is a great neighborhood go-to spot, but worth trekking to for drinks.
Because I’m a fan of day drinking, I figured the Mezcal Mule with mezcal, fresh limejuice, ginger and soda would be the perfect starter. And I was right. This is a great day drinking choice. Likewise, the Copa No. 1. made with mezcal, Pimms No. 1, ginger beer, fresh limejuice and cucumber, is another equally rousing day drink alternative.
If you’re looking for something a little stiffer, then opt for the Mezcalita, made with mezcal, Cointreau, fresh lime and orange juice. Think of this one as a mezcal margarita. Personally, I stopped drinking margaritas after college, and these days, if I have a margarita, I really prefer them to be mezcal-based. This one was very satisfying.
A drink you won’t cry over is La Llorona (Yoh-Roh-Na) made with mezcal, ginger beer, hibiscus, pineapple juice and bitters. It’s sweet but nice, and, as most people know, I’m not a fan of sweet cocktails but I enjoyed this one.
Upping the cocktail ante, the Sonambulo (sleepwalker for non Spanish-speaking folks) really hits the spot. Made with silver tequila, Cocchi Americano Grand Marnier, fresh limejuice and absinthe, this one will really get you going. Think of the day drinking cocktails as a start to your day or evening, and then think of this libation as blast off.
Now that you’re really soaring, the Oaxacan Old Fashioned with rye, mezcal, Aperol, sugar and bitters is damn good. Let me tell you, by this time I was having a very happy birthday. I love the balance that this drink (as well as the Sonambulo) has. They’re boozy yet not medicinal in taste and effortlessly manage to walk the fine line between stiff yet satisfying drink.
While I should have been done, I just couldn’t pass up having a Michelada, which is probably the ultimate Mexican day drinking beverage. Made with Mexican cerveza, it’s beer, limejuice, and assorted sauces, spices, and peppers. A huevo!
And because Mexican crime lord and prison escapee Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is all the rage these days, there’s even El Chapo’s Café, although truth be told, the drink existed long before El Chapo’s elaborate July prison escape. Made with añejo tequila, Fernet Vallet, vermouth, amaretto and bitters, this drink is really bitter but it’s a big hit at the bar.
If you can get over the neighborhood’s ultra hipster vibe, yes, folks in these parts think of themselves as just too cool, put that behind you and enjoy a solid drink or two or three. The scene is fun…come on this is a Mexican restaurant and bar after all. Drink, eat and laugh at mustached hipsters. Cheers, err, salud.
El Condor is located at 3701 Sunset Blvd in Silver Lake. Open nightly for dinner from 6pm to midnight; the bar is open from 4pm to 2am. Call 323-660-4500.
Story By Jose Martinez
Photography By: Ellen Rehak