The men behind Mercadito’s drink menu take charge of the cocktail list at sister spot Tavernita. By John Dugan
Following their success at sex-Mex spot Mercadito, New Yorkers Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay (known as the Tippling Bros.) are designing the ambitious drink list at Mercadito sibling Tavernita. The Mediterranean/Spanish spot takes over the former Martini Park space with chef Ryan Poli at the helm.
What are we going to see on Tavernita’s drink menu?
At Mercadito, we only use tequila and mescal, but here we want to use a variety of spirits. Gin and tonic is the national drink of Spain. We’ll play with that idea. [We’ll use] indigenous Spanish ingredients and flavors…. Spanish wines and liqueurs, spices [like saffron and turmeric]. Who knows, at some point maybe we will fat wash [the process of flavoring liquor with rendered fat] some ham ibérico into a drink. …Five to six [cocktails] will be served on tap. In Barcelona, you can go to bars and have vermouth on tap. We’ll be making our own vermouths and serving them on tap.
Vermouth is one of those things that Americans just don’t get.
It’s a crying shame because it’s a wonderful aperitif. It’s a great alternative to drinking spirits on the rocks or a cocktail.
I’ve heard you call Barcito, the bar within Tavernita, a “playpen.”
It has its own street entrance. It will have its own set of cocktails, its own wines, its own beers. We’re gonna have a guy behind the bar making tapas right there.
A good niche for you guys?
The Spanish and, moreover, Mediterranean, culture that surrounds food and family, friends, conviviality and socializing [is] something we are really excited about. I don’t think any of us thinks we’re gonna knock Chicago’s socks off with something it hasn’t seen before. We just wanna open a great spot.