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At Bar Sótano, Avocado Goes in the Cocktails

Bar Sótano cocktails
1. Hot Chocolate 2. Escabeche 3. Guacamole 4. Tacos al Pastor Photo: Jeff Marini

The drink menu at Bar Sótano, Rick Bayless’s new speakeasy behind Frontera Grill, evokes a Mexican market: refreshing cocktails in the “Fruit Stand” section, spice-forward options in the “Chile Stall.” Then there’s the “Fonda” section, with sippers inspired by the part of the market where prepared-food vendors set up. “The question here was how to weave every element of these dishes into the drinks,” says beverage director Lanie Bayless (Rick’s daughter). For the extra-smoky Tacos al Pastor ($13), that meant infusing mezcal with Xoco’s chorizo. The Escabeche ($15), a bright vodka martini, is dirtied with the brine of the pickled vegetables on the bar’s charcuterie plate. The hardest one to nail was the Guacamole ($13). It involved balancing out earthy mezcal with tomatillo-chile syrup, puréed avocado, and cilantro — but holding the onions. As Bayless explains, “I just couldn’t make them taste good.” 443 N. Clark St., Near North Side

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