L Bar, the upscale cocktail lounge in the lobby of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, offers an alternative to those not looking to wear a sombrero and shake maracas this Cinco de Mayo. In addition to serving its traditional libations, L Bar also has a secret tequila menu with only premium tequilas and mezcals for drinkers wanting to embrace this Mexican holiday without shots of cheap booze and regrets.
The menu secreto lists four staple artisan-crafted cocktails ($13) ranging in complexity and flavors, plus a rotating cocktail of the month. This month, as a nod to Cinco de Mayo, L Bar is offering the Pequeño Diablo ($9), made with freshly sliced jalapeño, blood orange, guava, strawberries, pineapple, simple syrup, Cointreau, and Herradura Reposado. The strawberries, pineapple, and jalapeño are muddled and strained before everything is shaken and poured over crushed ice.
"We wanted to make sure we had cocktails that people understood, the classics, but we also wanted to do a little bit of a twist, introduce cocktails that would push people out of their comfort zone," Justin Wyborn, vice president of food and beverage at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, explains.
L Bar, which has been opened for two and a half years, transformed what was formerly a little service bar into a luxurious mixology bar. Lead mixologist Gerald Contreras, who has been with Hard Rock for ten years, says, "What I love about my job is to get people to change their perspectives and attitudes about certain spirits behind the bar."
Contreras keeps a lookout for patrons who order a margarita, the staple tequila beverage in America, before gently suggesting they try something from the secret menu. When they do, they tend to get hooked. "Margarita is always the go-to drink to introduce guests to the secret tequila menu."
A good starter cocktail on the secret menu is the Mexican Firing Squad, which contains Patrón Blanco tequila, grenadine, lime juice, and bitters. "Everyone tends to drink Patrón, so we tried to offer something more outside the box, using the bitters and our fresh-made pomegranate," Will Osment, the assistant beverage manager, explains.
The Dos, Contreras' favorite, is among the Top 10 best-sellers at L Bar. It's made with Kah Reposado tequila, Tabasco sauce, cilantro, agave, and fresh lemon juice. "I turn a lot of people on to this drink. It's not overwhelming, but it's nice."
There's also the Uno, a refreshing layered beverage containing Herradura Reposado, mint, lime, bitters, and ginger beer. Guests are encouraged to sip from the bottom and make their way to the top to enjoy the layers of flavors. For the Paloma, a tequila-based cocktail with grapefruit juice and soda that guests might already be familiar with, L Bar adds a pinch of salt to make the flavors pop.
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Wyborn explains L Bar decided to create a secret tequila menu to enlighten patrons about the nuances of premium tequilas and mezcals. Guests can order the carefully curated selection neat or on the rocks.
"It's very hard to find anywhere in South Florida that has a good selection of tequila," Wyborn says. "For us, we thought this is an opportunity in the market to start doing something different and start educating our guests so they can have that memorable experience and that 'wow' moment."
L Bar at the Seminole Hard Rock
1 Seminole Way, Hollywood; 954-327-7625; seminolehardrockhollywood.com. Open Sunday through Thursday noon to midnight and Friday and Saturday noon to 3 a.m.