The Drunken Vegan, a.k.a. Patrick J. Hurley, is a full-time barman at the Civil Life Brewing Company and cocktail enthusiast about town. He's an unapologetic drunkard, a vegan and a bon vivant, and, no, he doesn't think those last two terms contradict each other.
There was a time when cocktails at a Mexican restaurant meant antifreeze-colored margarita Slurpees. Lucky for us, today the best Mexican restaurants are pairing inspired food with bang-up cocktails. The Drunken Vegan tried four at Mission Taco Joint (6235 Delmar Boulevard; 314-932-5430) and paired them with some delectable, meatless grub.
The "Mission Paloma" combines reposado tequila with grapefruit beer and a little agave nectar. This delightfully fresh summer drink is served tall over ice. It is tart and spritzy, a little sweet, but well balanced. It is the perfect foil to the spicy and earthy flavors of the house salsas.
"La Flor de la Borracha" is a pretty drink, intensely pink and served on ice in a snifter. The drink is composed of gin, hibiscus agua fresca, lemon juice and ginger liqueur. It is floral and botanical in equal parts with light bitterness and a little ginger spice.
The "Delmar Boulevardier" is all spice and citrus on the nose, then the rich sweetness of bourbon with a little clean bitterness and a faintly herbaceous quality. Both the misted bitters and the orange peel are flamed by the bartender, giving the drink a hint of smoke. It worked well with the tofu, avocado, mango and pickled-onion tacos.
The "Pepino Mental" is mescal, lime juice, cucumber and serrano syrup. The generous garnish of mint tempts the nose first, then a combination of citrus and smoke hits the palate followed by spice. The chile bite is subtle, but lingers pleasantly. The second sip reveals a little sweetness and the clean flavor of cucumber. It's a lightly sweet quencher that leaves a pleasant tingle on the tongue, and it pairs nicely with the black bean and quinoa burrito.
Neither the creative cocktails nor the solid food offerings will disappoint. It's easy to see why Mission is always so busy. It's worth the short wait.
And, yes, the margaritas are excellent too.