The Flower Shop Bar adjacent to Johnny's Grill is getting an extra dash of agave thanks to barman Jay Schroeder. The former Frontera bar manager will take over the space later this month to turn it into Mezcaleria Las Flores, a lively cocktail bar with a focus on Mexican spirits, in partnership with Johnny's owner Sarah Jordan.
Schroeder describes the concept as a fusion of the two different types of mezcalerias he encountered during his travels throughout Mexico. The first is a serious cocktail lounge, where bartenders are well versed in all avenues of agave-based spirits. The second offers a livelier club-like atmosphere with an equally extensive spirits selection at an affordable price. "I really want to see this as a place where you can sit down and explore the back bar, but at the same time it has to be fun," he says.
The eight-cocktail opening menu will showcase different Oaxacan mezcals as well as bacanora from Sonora, sotol from Chihuahua, and raicilla from the south of Jalisco. Each cocktail will either solely rely on agave as the base spirit or have a spit base with mezcal plus a different spirit. He will also utilize fortified wine, sherry, essential oils, homemade fresh cordials, and sal de gusanos to round out his program.
"I know Logan Square is a whiskey neighborhood," Schroeder admits when asked about the viability of such a specialized concept. "I want to differentiate—do something no one else is doing and go all in on it."
Schroeder hopes Mezcaleria Las Flores can walk the line between a neighborhood spot and a destination for serious tequila drinkers. The teal blue walls and homage to its flower shop past will remain with only minor renovations being done in the coming weeks to improve the functionality of the bar before it reopens in late February. The space will remain open during the day as additional seating for the restaurant, transitioning into a bar each evening at 5 p.m. with food from Johnny's available upon request.
"If you sit down at my bar at 1 a.m. on a Friday night and want to eat a burger, than goddammit you can eat a burger," Schroeder says. Favorites from the current cocktail menu, including boilermakers and Bloody Marys, will still be served at Johnny's.