First Look: El Borracho Mexican Cantina, St. Louis, 12/13/08 

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A first look at El Borracho Mexican Cantina, which occupies for the former space of Nectar Lounge on Locust Street. This is not a review.
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El Borracho Mexican Cantina, tucked next to co-owners' other pet project The Pepper Lounge, is the newest and hottest (but only if you taste the salsa) establishment on Locust Street.
Erica Kaldenberg bravely ordered the Avocado Mango Margarita on Josh's recommendation and was pleased with the right combination of sweet and sour. In her words, it had a "little zing."
Directly inside El Borracho, there is a curvaceous seating area almost entirely illuminated from the outside streetlight and glass bricks.
The chef, John Griffiths, tells an interesting story about preparing the entirely organic Mexican menu that he hopes bridges the gap between Americanized Mexican foods and the authentic Mexican fare. Having worked in fine dining most of his career, his Hispanic co-workers made authentic Mexican food for their personal meals in the kitchen. With this introduction, Griffiths says he has adopted the same passion to the menu at El Borracho.
The mural along the left wall from the entrance was specifically commissioned by El Borracho for graffiti artists.
The bar has a central location that creates a bottleneck feel as your circle it. The crowds get tighter and the intimacy increases. Surprisingly, no one seemed to mind Saturday.
Nick makes a similar strawberry margarita with a morsel of strawberry gently tucked on the side.
Cousins Brandi and Lynn Aldridge found out about the event through Facebook and took advantage with the signature drink and sampling the food too. However, they both shied away from sampling the beef tongue.
Above the entrance, enveloped in thick red drapery, is a shrine with candles and painting of skeletons, channeling Día de los Muertos.
Justin Sampson, the general manager of El Borracho, is a carryover from the Nectar staff.
Owners haven't shied away from going all-out with Mexican kitsch and seductive lounge feel. Just inside the door, guests are greeted with a red-drenched display of Mexican wrestling masks.
Mixed drinks were the big winner of the night, either simple or complex. Here Josh makes a grape vodka and club soda.
Co-owner Gary Van Matre with chef John Griffiths are both eager to tell you how the idea came about and even more how the location came together.
The El Borracho Avocado Mango Margarita. Here Josh prepares it. As with the food, everything is organic and devoid of hormones. The bartenders say they prepare their own sour mix each morning.
A finished El Borracho Avocado Mango Margarita. Customers on Saturday gave it positive reviews.
Tyler Schwartz and Jennifer Hardigan. They had tried a number of different margaritas that night, including the Avocado Mango Margarita.
Elsewhere Diana makes a signature El Borracho Blue Margatini.
Many of the lighting fixtures are handmade by another co-owner Pete Ferretti.
Michael Lofton and Dustin Odham. They'd heard about the opening and decided to sample some Mexican drinks and cuisine before dancing the rest of the night at Pepper. This plan, owners say, is precisely they had in mind when they chose the location and concept.
Marc Gwynne, left, and Michael Salais were in charge of presenting and informing the guests of the steaming hot samples available at a buffet. These servers had to memorize the menu after learning it Tuesday, including details like the chef putting lime on each piece of meat to enhance the flavor. They say the beef tongue is marvelous.
Although they look heavy and metal, they are apparently made of wood and provide a soft golden glow to the entire eating area.
Other details were authentically attained on trips to Tijuana. Decorations such as posters and this intricate chandelier are among the imports.
Ran Mano, Tom Smith and Margo Heger were sampling the drinks.
As well as this discrete piece hanging over the bathroom entrances.
The tagline "Enter a guest. Leave an amigo" along with the back of their uniforms stating "R U A Mexi-can Or A Mex-can't" pretty much says it all in their intentions.
Above the bar is this large imposing face, again drenched in inescapable red. According to Justin Sampson, all pieces are either antiques, handmade or imported.
Among the striking details was the attempt to include touches of Mexico into the architecture of the restaurant. These shallow candlelit stairs lead the way from the bar area to the dining area and are anchored by...
...These painted adobe arches.
Boasting their favorite tequilas behind the bar.
Jason Parker also ordered the Avocado Mango Margarita. He ordered it because it was the special and he likes mango.
There are numerous televisions set up throughout the bar and when conversation is on pause, they could provide wonderful distractions for the single person or an awkward first date.
El Borracho Mexican Cantina, tucked next to co-owners' other pet project The Pepper Lounge, is the newest and hottest (but only if you taste the salsa) establishment on Locust Street.