Quiote’s basement mezcal bar will tonight debut a drink list from acclaimed beverage director Jay Schroeder (Mezcaleria Las Flores) with a new name for the space: Todos Santos. Schroeder joined the acclaimed Logan Square Mexican restaurant in August and decided to give the bar a new name to distinguish between the restaurant’s and bar’s experiences. The seven new drinks use fresh produce and take advantage of the farmer relationships Quiote’s chef-owner Dan Salls has cultivated. The drink list also includes a Seinfeld reference.
Schroeder is keen on respecting mezcal traditions and wanted a name that would spotlight the hardworking mezcal producers in Mexico (known as palenqueros) who make American mezcal bars possible: “Not the folks from Mexico City whose brands these are,” Schroeder explained. When looking at a map of the country, Schroeder noticed that almost all of the mezcal-producing cities he does business with are named after saints. That’s why they went with Todos Santos, which means “all saints.” The bar opened on New Year’s Eve, and didn’t have a separate name from the restaurant at first.
“Hopefully the name is evocative of what we do,” Schroeder said.
What Schroeder has done is create a unique menu specific to the subterranean drinking space. Dining room customers will have to come downstairs to taste what Todos Santos is all about. The menu will change seasonally, and Salls brought back a diverse selection of cups and mugs from Mexico for Schroeder, who knows how serviceware affects the bar experience. When it came time to develop the drinks that will fill those cups, Schroeder took his time, whereas ideas struck him like “a bolt of lightning” at his previous gig.
“It’s a little bit more freeform, but I think combined together it makes for one extremely cohesive whole,” he said.
Schroeder, who worked for Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill, learned to respect farmers. Figs captivate him, as growing up in Indiana didn’t offer him many chances to try the fruit. At Todos Santos, he preserves figs and freezes them for all-season use. But customers can taste fresh figs this fall in a drink called the Feats of Strength. It is powered by Nuestra Soledad San Luis espadin, Plantation Original dark rum, coffee liqueur, Lustau manzanilla sherry, lime, and lavender.
The beer selection will also get a boost. Customers will find more than Victoria — Tecate and War Pigs Lazurite will now be on offer, for example. Large-format drinks are also in the works. Schroeder’s philosophy is to keep his customers comfortable. Not everyone needs to understand every single ingredient that goes into a drink. They can enjoy them on their own terms.
“If you put a really good drink in front of someone, people are going to like them regardless if they have Aquavit in them or some sort of weird herbal thing — whatever, it doesn’t matter,” Schroeder said.
Check out the new drink menu below. Todos Santos debuts at 5 p.m. today underneath Quiote.