Moreno’s Liquors has been a Little Village mainstay for more than 40 years. The family-owned store’s deep catalog of obscure spirits includes more than 700 tequilas and nearly 500 mezcals, making it one of the largest retailers of Mexican liquors in the country.
Now, Moreno’s hopes to funnel its wide selection and know-how into a new speakeasy, Osito’s Tap (3724 W. 26th St.). Like any speakeasy worth its salt, the bar is somewhat hidden: Snake your way through Moreno’s labyrinthine shelves of spirits, past the steel security door and stacks of overstock, and look for the neon chihuahua (depicting Osito, owner Mike Moreno’s dog) through the back door.
Located in a back room that was once a separate building, Osito’s has plenty of speakeasy cred: The brickwork, wood flooring, and tin ceilings all date back to the early 1900s, when the building was a bar frequented by Czech immigrants before becoming an underground bookie joint. Decor is minimal, and a few pendant lights save the space from complete darkness. You’re not likely to hear any Top 40 playing in this bar, whose soundtrack leans on cumbia and old-school Latin tunes.
Osito’s Tap pours hundreds of different spirits, including many small-batch tequilas and mezcals that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. Its nearly limitless selection of spirits will appeal to more adventurous imbibers, but Osito’s Tap doesn’t want to intimidate casual drinkers, either. The cocktail menu offers fresh takes on classic drinks — like the agave sazerac, which swaps rye for tequila — while spirit flights offer drinkers a chance to expand their palate without committing to a full pour. Hungry patrons can nibble on a small selection of botanas or visit a rotating squad of food trucks for more substantial eats.
Osito’s Tap is the first new bar to open in Little Village in many years, and judging by the crowd during our visit, the neighborhood was ready for it.