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Bar by Red Door Highlights the Craft of Cocktail-Making

The new Mission Hills spot is Red Door restaurant’s ideal companion


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Bar by Red Door's After Dinner Smoke (left) and Smudge & Conjure | Photo by John Dole

Cervantes Magaña describes Bar by Red Door as “a place you can do your homework in and have a cool drink.”

He doesn’t mean the homework part literally—you’re not going to see kids doing algebra on the bar’s cottonwood tables. What Magaña’s referring to is the ambience of the new space. There are big windows, a lot of light, white walls, lush plants and a high ceiling. It’s calming—an oasis amid the general busyness of life. (To see interior shots of Bar by Red Door, check out Troy Johnson's First Look.)

Taking over the space formerly occupied by The Wellington in Mission Hills, Bar by Red Door is, as folks familiar with the area might guess, a companion to Trish Watlington’s popular Red Door restaurant. Red Door was doing farm-to-table long before it was a thing, and Bar by Red Door takes the same approach to cocktails: as many ingredients as possible come from Watlington’s farm, and Magaña, whose previous bartending stints include Roseville Cozhina, Double Standard and consulting company Medicine Show, makes many of the ingredients in-house, including a beet falernum, a lovely smoked-sage infused gin, and an ancho-chili liqueur.

Magaña says he created the 20-cocktail menu with nuance in mind. He spent a long time thinking about the recipes, to the point where he could taste them, he said, before sitting down to make the cocktails.

“Every little detail is very dialed in,” he said.

Bar by Red Door opens daily at 4 p.m. (and for brunch on the weekends) and serves really tasty small plates that pair well with the cocktails. Some menu highlights:

Los Star Fighter

This take on a margarita features tequila infused with cilantro and a blend of three chilies (ancho, chipotle, and habanero). It’s got a good amount of heat, but still manages to be light and refreshing.

 

Zombie Bus Stop

Magaña’s version of a Zombie includes three rums, Genepy (a stone-fruit liqueur from the Alps), housemade beet falernum, passionfruit, lime, and a beet spice cordial. The beets lend the drink color, a nice sweetness, and subtle earthiness without undermining the cocktail’s tiki roots.

 

After Dinner Smoke

Magaña took inspiration from a Ramos Gin Fizz and Grandpa’s favorite after-dinner drink to create this creamy, smoky cocktail featuring Pedro Ximénez Sherry, Mason Rouge cognac, Peat Monster single-malt scotch, Kappa pisco, lemon, orgeat, and egg white. He describes it as “egg nog your grandpa would rise from the dead for.”

 

Smudge & Conjure

A housemade blue curaçao (a citrus liqueur) gives this cocktail an almost ethereal blue hue. But the star is the smoked-sage gin. St. George’s pear liqueur, lime, and a pinch of salt round things out. Magaña calls the drink the “Tim Burton side of tiki.”

 

Good Neighbor

For fans of spirit-forward cocktails, this addicting twist on an Old Fashioned includes Evan Williams bourbon, Luxardo Amaro Abano, Amaro Meletti, Kirschwasser cherry brandy, and orange bitters. The two amaros provide lovely hints of spice, chocolate and caramel. Despite the booziness, you might find yourself ordering a second one.


Got suggestions for a future post? Write to 2kellydavis@gmail.com.

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