A Tour de Mexico cocktail from Masa Azul
In September, the year-old Southwestern restaurant Masa Azul emerged from a makeover with a new chef (Jonathan Zaragoza of Birrieria Zaragoza), an overhauled menu, and an updated decor. Thankfully, Jenny Kessler—its innovative beverage director, whose cocktails focus on tequila, mezcal, and a desert plant called sotol—remains. “Jenny is the soul of the place,” Zaragoza says. “No one else is doing what she does with tequila.”
Kessler’s signature libations enlist unexpected flavors, including allspice and purple corn (featured in the Chicha Morada, a Peruvian drink she saw in a cookbook at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian). But her proudest creation is a cocktail series that starts with mezcal, tequila, sotol, polque (a Mexican alcohol made from sap), and lime juice and then lets you select from ouzo, green Chartreuse, whiskey, or locally produced Letherbee gin to create your desired permutation. Kessler calls it the Tour de Mexico. We call it a tour de force. 2901 W. Diversey Ave., 773-687-0300.
Photograph: Anna Knott