Cedd Moses' 213 opens Las Perlas mezcal and tequila bar in downtown Los Angeles
Located across 6th Street from Cole's -- Moses' most spirited reinvention of a historic business to date -- Las Perlas pays tribute to mezcal with the same meticulously researched flourishes that Moses' Seven Grand bar pays to whiskey and Scotch.
You won't find tacky worms in the bottom of bitter-tasting liquor here. Worms are for tourists, not for aficionados who know that premium single-village mezcal is as complex, smoky and distinct as any fine tequila.
The state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico is the most well-known producer of mezcal, and it's from this rustic, colorful, deeply traditional region that Las Perlas derives its design inspiration. The exterior boasts a flat, crudely hand-painted sign. Step inside and you'll see a rough wood wall topped with wrought iron, lots of warm wood flourishes, a porcelain-covered bar, custom chandeliers, Pullman booths, vintage windows, an outdoor patio overlooking 6th Street and large century-old, hand-blown Oaxacan mezcal bottles.
The kings of the cocktail menu are general manager Raul Yrastorza and Julian Cox, Rivera bar chief and Las Perlas consultant. Drinks are put together using house-made syrups, bitters, herbs, Mexican sugars and salts, as well as a lush host of fruits and vegetables from area markets. Garnishes include wild hibiscus flowers and fiery chapulines (lemon, garlic and pepper-roasted grasshoppers popular in Oaxaca).
The joint, which also has a pool table and a juke box, is named after the bubbles -- or pearls (las perlas) -- that form when a fine bottle of mezcal is shaken. It's something that mezcal devotees pay a great deal of attention to in Mexico.
Las Perlas, 107 E. 6th Street, Los Angeles. (213) 988-8355; www.lasperlas.la.
-- Jessica Gelt
Photo: An oak barrel used to age Oaxacan mezcal sits at the family-run El Rey Zapoteco distillery in the town of Matatlan, Mexico. Credit: Gregory Bull / Associated Press.