Edit ModuleShow Tags

Cereus Joins Tijuana’s Growing Craft Cocktail Scene

The new bar has a menu by Irving Gonzalez and an ideal location in revamped Estación Federal


Published:

Cereus' interior opens onto a large patio | Photo: Antonio Díaz de Sandi

A decade ago, if you walked across the border to Tijuana, you’d exit near a pair of rundown residential buildings with “Estación Federal” spelled out in mosaic tile. Artists, architects, and writers looking for community and cheap rent filled the buildings, though at some point the squalor lost its charm. The buildings sat mostly vacant until a couple years ago, when developers decided to make them part of downtown Tijuana’s revitalization.

The result is an attractive mixed-use space—called Estación Federal—that honors the neighborhood, Colonia Federal, and its history. There are affordable lofts, offices, restaurants, a coffee shop, and—since this is a cocktail blog—a cocktail bar. Named Cereus after a desert plant that blooms at night (“Catch us at night” is one of the bar’s taglines), it’s an exciting addition to Tijuana’s growing craft cocktail scene.

Irving Gonzalez, well-respected for his cocktail-making skills on both sides of the border, came up with the menu. He said he wanted to create something fresh and fun, and though the bar soft-opened at the beginning of a cold February, he envisioned folks enjoying the cocktails on Cereus’s open-air patio on warm evenings.

The bar’s signature cocktail is the Desierto, made with prickly pear juice, lavender syrup, Enmienda 18 (a small-batch gin made by Tijuana’s Agua Caliente Distillery), lemon juice, and egg white, garnished with a sprinkling of hibiscus salt. Served in a coupe glass, it’s the color of a Baja sunset.

For something lighter, try the Baja Summer, a TJ version of a tiki cocktail, made with tequila, orgeat, Aperol, grapefruit, and lemon. One of the more popular cocktails has been the namesake Estación Federal, a Negroni variation made with dry vermouth, Campari, Enmienda gin, and Ancho Reyes.

Gonzalez says he’s been pleased with how open Tijuanenses have been to craft cocktails. Despite Tijuana’s history as a Prohibition-era destination, it wasn’t too long ago that folks would order a daiquiri and expect it frozen. Now they’re asking for the real thing.

The Desierto cocktail

“People are realizing the true flavors for cocktails,” Gonzalez says. “When people go to a bar and ask for a mai tai, they really are expecting an authentic mai tai.”

While you won’t find Gonzalez behind the bar—he was brought on as a consultant—he says customers are in good hands with lead bartenders Elzbeth Gomez and Sofia Escaravante.

“They are amazing,” he says. “I was so blessed to find them.”

Cereus (Larroque 271, Colonia Federal) is still in soft-opening mode, but is open regular hours—noon-ish to around midnight most nights and 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

 

Got an idea for a future post? Email me.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Spend Balmy Summer Evenings Watching These Outdoor Movie Screenings

Outdoor flicks and chill.

Brisket with Guy Fieri

A little backstory for tonight’s San Diego episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives

Here’s Who Makes the Best Poke in San Diego

3 local restaurants won at this year’s I Love Poke Festival contest
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Plan a San Diego Staycation with Hilton

Avoid the airport and enjoy local activities from kayaking to visiting Balboa Park

Athena’s Pinnacle Awards Showcases Leaders in Diversity and Inclusion

Here are the winners from the event on May 7
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Vote Now for San Diego's Best Restaurants 2019
    From pho to fries, you can choose San Diego's best eats and drinks in 99 categories
  2. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2019
    Nearly 7,500 of our hungriest readers voted in our annual poll—and the results are served
  3. First Look: Il Dandy
    Michelin-starred Italian chefs open a stunner in Bankers Hill
  4. Restaurants Are Dying; Here’s the Solution
    It’s simple math, but the state of California refuses to allow it
  5. 21 Ultimate Road Trip Itineraries from San Diego
    These getaways will take you through California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Mexico
  6. Best of North County 2019
    Our annual roundup of what's up-and-coming and full-on buzzy above the 56
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module