Edit ModuleShow Tags

Nortico is Helping Shape Tijuana’s Craft Cocktail Scene

Open a year, the speakeasy-style bar has gained a cult following


Published:

Inside Nortico | Photo by Kelly Davis

It’s been almost a year since Tijuana got its first speakeasy, Nortico, and though craft cocktails are still new to Baja (at least in this century), the bar’s already developed something of a cult following. On a recent Saturday night, every seat was taken and folks without reservations were being turned away.

In speakeasy style, you have to know Nortico’s there to find it—and text ahead for reservations (+52 664-611-0589). It’s inside the restaurant Oryx Capital (10750 Boulevard Agua Caliente, Colonia Aviación), which has been getting rave reviews of its own.

Nortico’s décor alone makes it an ideal spot to enjoy cocktails. It’s got a mid-century lounge vibe, wood paneling, dim lighting, and comfortable seating. The walls are filled with gold leaf-accented, large-scale reprints of photos of Al Capone, bootleggers, and 1920s Tijuana.

Nortico's El Zaragoza | Photo by Jim Sullivan

The current menu will be around for a couple more weeks, though all the cocktails will still be available. The new menu, a collaboration between Nortico bartenders Fernando Villalobos and Kevin Maldonado, and George’s at the Cove’s Stephen Kurpinsky, will also follow the same format: On the left side are classics and on the right side, riffs on classics.

My favorite among the six classics—and one of my favorite cocktails in general—was the Clover Club (gin, raspberry syrup, lemon, and egg white), though a friend of mine declared the Old Fashioned “perfect.” Among the riffs, the El Zaragoza, my husband’s favorite, is a Baja version of an Old Fashioned, made with mezcal, Ancho Reyes chili liqueur, gomme syrup, bitters, and a little acid phosphate to give it some bite. I really enjoyed the Agua Caliente—a take on a Vieux Carré—made with mezcal, cognac, Madeira wine, chocolate bitters, and fragrant maple smoke that lingers in the glass.

Ruffo Ibarra, Oryx Capital’s chef and owner—who gets behind the bar when things slow down in the kitchen—said the Clover Club and its riff, the Capone 34 (rye whiskey, lemon, housemade praline orgeat, egg white, and coffee bitters) are the most popular. Hopefully on the new menu will be one of Ibarra’s creations, made with Johnnie Walker Double Black whiskey, mescal, white cacao, mole bitters, gomme syrup, and a little Laphroaig. Yet-to-be-named, it’s sweet, smoky, and very smooth.

Also keep an eye out for Nortico’s monthly “guest bartender” takeovers that’s brought in bartenders like David Tye and Stephen Kurpinsky. This month’s happens on March 29 and features Eric “Shrimp Toast” Long (False Idol).


Got an idea for a future post? Email 2kellydavis@gmail.com.

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