Barra Mexico 2018 – The Future of the Bar

barra mexico pic

In less than a month, hundreds of cocktail culture influencers and major brands will flock to Mexico City for Barra Mexico, The Mexican Bar Show. Centered around this year’s theme, “The Future of the Bar,” the fourth annual international conference will showcase cutting edge techniques, leading tastemakers, and producers in the alcoholic beverage industry on June 10th – 11th, 2018. Co-founder, Ara Cavallo, took a few moments to pour some details about the anticipated event which includes 26 engaging courses, presentations, and of course killer parties!

CannyCandi: What is your background in the in the cocktail culture industry.

Ara Carvallo: I was a global brand manager for Lucas Bols in Amsterdam (Bols Genever, Bols Liquerus, Galliano) and worked there for 10 years. During the last four years of my experience, I was in charge of running their global bartending competition ‘Bols Around the World.’ Also, I’ve been a bartender for the past 20 years and still work at the Kanarie Club in Amsterdam. My business partner (and co-founder), Paula García, was the brand manager for mixology spirits at México’s largest spirits, wine and beer distributor, La Europea. She is a sommelier graduated and has experience at a winery in New Zealand.

CC: What is the inspiration behind Barra México?

AC: We wanted to create a platform to show off  México. The country has great spirits, ingredients, and gastronomy.  We believed that a platform, where all members of the industry can gather once a year, would help México’s cocktail industry put a firmer step on the worlds’ bar scene.

CC: Based on the promo videos and website pictures, the event seems very chic, sexy, and edgy. Was this a part of your vision for the event?

AC: The theme of Barra México this year is “The Future of the Bar.” We believe the future of the bar should be based on three pillars:

1) Technology: Bars should use technology to improve guest experiences, increase bar profitability, and staff accountability.

2) Sustainability: [Through sustainability, bar are cleaner, and] provide carbon neutrality, lower water footprint, and veganism.

3) A culture of peace in bars: Facilitate diversity, gender equity, equality, non-violence.

We strongly believe that we can only achieve this future if more women become a part of the industry leaders. Therefore, the key visual of Barra México 2018 are 12 of the best bartenders in México (who happen to be women).

CC: What makes México City so attractive for major cocktail culture events?

AC: México City is an ideal place to experience multicultural, cosmopolitan cocktail culture, and hosts three of the World’s 100 Best Bars (Limantour at number 14, Fifty Mils Bar at number 61 and Hanky Panky at number 75).  Plus, it has an amazing gastronomic scene, including two restaurants ranking in the premier World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (Pujol at number 20 and Quintonil at number 22). México is the 11th largest spirits producer in the world providing Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol, Bacanora, Charanda, and Rum as well as regional spirits like Raicilla and Pox.

CC: What classes would you love to attend at Barra México?

AC: I’m really looking forward to seeing Philp Duff, he is one of my favorite presenters. Also, Tess Pothumus, from Amsterdam, will be giving a seminar on Dutch drinking culture, sponsored by the Dutch Embassy. Additionally, I’m excited about having Kate Gerwin on the stage, she is a strong activist for female empowerment in the bar scene.

CC: What parties are you looking forward to and why?

AC: The opening party is always the best; we are lucky to have the Four Seasons México City hotel as a main sponsor, for three years in a row. We will be hosting the party in the hotel’s main garden which is stunning.

CC: Who are some of the key players/presenters attending this year?

AC: All major brands are exhibiting at Barra México:  LVMH will present a spectacular bar in the middle of the event space which will resemble “the bar of the future.” Key players including  William Grant, Pernod Ricard, Cuervo, Diageo, Brown Forman,  will be there. We will also have the Country of Perú presenting pisco.

CC: Personally, what do you love about planning and hosting  Barra México?

AC: Although it is very challenging and at times stressful, the Méxican bartending scene is extremely talented and supportive [of the Barra México team].  The same goes for the Mexican craft spirits industry. It is very creative and positive, dealing with them on a daily basis gives us energy and makes us work harder to make the world more aware of the richness of the Mexican bar & craft spirits scene.


Emma Janzen, Author of Mezcal, Spills About Her Debut, Award-Nominated Book

CVR Mezcal - Voyageur

Mezcal is an agave based spirit, similar to tequila, but processed differently. The difference in preparation is what creates the intrigue and mystery behind the spirit.  Although the mezcal mysteries seem endless, there is a new, easy to understand guide to help debunk misconceptions and provides stepping stones for our personal discovery of the elusive swill. Mezcal – The History, Craft, & Cocktails of the World’s Ultimate Artisanal Spirit, by Emma Janzen, is intended to re-frame our foggy notions of Mezcal. I had the honor of speaking with Emma about the James Beard nominated book,  the stories within, and the voices shared in her writing.


CannyCandi: In the acknowledgements, you mention this guide is more of a “love letter to mezcal” (I support your sentiments!).  When and how did your love affair with mezcal start?

Emma Janzen: Ten years ago, I was working as an assistant at a daily newspaper in Austin, TX. I was desperate for more writing and production. And also, my husband (my boyfriend at the time) and I were looking to do more outside of work together. We joined a class, Tipsy Tech, run by the Tipsy Texan, aka David Alan. We started paying attention to different spirits and it was around the time mezcal was starting to come into The States, not as a new category because Del Maguey had been around for a long time, but there were new brands like Wahaka starting to come in. I tried some of those and went to Tales of the Cocktail that year. So, my first published paper was about mezcal. I got hooked! I had so many questions and just kept with it. I wrote as many articles as I could for various publications and kept tabs on the industry until the book came along.     

CC: What and how were you inspired to write the book?

EJ: I wrote an article in 2016 while here in Chicago, in Logan Square, and noticed a new mezcal bar (a mazcaleria) opening up. And was thinking about the amount of Mezcal bars in America and wrote a short article about it for Imbibe. A publisher at Quarto Press saw my article and reached out to me. He said I’ve been thinking about Mezcal as a book topic for a while and what do you think about that? Do you think it’s a viable idea? I wrote a novel in response! It included why it’s a perfect time and perfect spirit to write about. I must have impressed him because he asked me if I wanted to write it! It’s funny because people say Mezcal always finds you. I knew I always wanted to write a book, but this topic just felt perfect when it was presented.

CC: Could you talk a bit about the people who guided you along the journey of writing Mezcal?

EJ: I went into this project really knowing who the main players are in this industry – who made the biggest impact on the category and the producers who really lead the charge, and thinking that these people would be my spirit guides.  And so, the way it shook out, that kind of didn’t happen at all! It was really frustrating, but I ended up meeting all sorts of new people, [somewhat] new brands and experts who helped shape the way this book came together. I let mezcal guide me. I had an expectation of who was going to help me and that fell through so I let go of expectations. I think it worked out for the best that way because I feel like I have a much more diverse selection of perspectives and voices in the final book, than there might have been if I had stuck with the original people I set out to talk with.  


Pg. 182 Oaxaca Old Fashioned_Mezcal
Oaxaca Old Fashioned (photo by Emma Janzen)

CC: What kept you motivated to complete the book as challenges arose?

EJ: Oooo, the first word that comes to mind is the ‘deadline!!’ And two other motivations: one was, almost ‘fear’ because I felt like I had something to prove because I walked into the project not as a formal expert on Mezcal, I didn’t have an [authoritative] platform. I thought people would be like ‘Who the hell is this chick?’ I have never written another book before although I have been a writer for a long time. I felt like the first book I need to nail it. I need to do a really good job with this.  So that was a definite motivation. On a similar note, I felt there wasn’t a really good English language introduction which was organized super well, easy for people to understand, and was beautiful. I had a personal responsibility to really get it right so I could explain this spirit, but bigger than the spirit was to explain this culture: it’s the Mexican [people’s] history and it’s their day-to-day. I wanted to make sure I honored their culture and communicated it in a way that was special and gave a good voice to the people making mezcal. This wasn’t my story, it’s their story, so I wanted to work really hard so I wouldn’t mess it up!

CC: The book is very comprehensive, how did you decide to organize the content and parts of the book?

EJ: I knew going into the project I didn’t’ want to dig too deep into the distant history because I wanted people to relate to the subject matter more. So, that’s why I decided to make it more about the modern history of the spirit and how it came to rise in America. It’s an English language book so I wanted it to connect with American audiences as well as represent the culture of mezcal. That’s why I wanted to start with explaining what it is in a way that it’s not so cut – and – dry and boring. Didn’t want it to read as a textbook.  I worked some of my own stories into the book to put [readers] in that setting so they would imagine what it’s like to be in Mexcaloteca in Oaxaca or any of the other remote villages. The book starts in a bar where a lot of American’s would learn about the spirit as if a bartender is explaining what it is. And then goes into a guide of the actual [agave] plants, then production to how it’s made. I wanted to include cocktails because I felt you can’t talk about how mezcal became what it is today in America without talking about cocktails. It was bartenders who first understood it and started teaching people. Wanted to get a good collection of recipes together with classic and modern cocktails for diversity, so you can pick it up and have a cocktail for any season or occasion as well as really simple to make.

Pg. 148 Mezcal Margarita_Mezcal
Mezcal Margarita, (photo by Emma Janzen)

CC: You mentioned you always considered the quote from Tio Rey,” the act of making mezcal being a blessing more so than the spirit itself…,” while writing the book. How did you keep that in mind while writing the book?

EJ: I think it’s easy for Americans to talk about mezcal only in the most romantic of terms. There is so much romance to the spirit: the way it’s made, the practice has been handed down from generation to generation in so many families. It’s mysterious and magical – so many brands play that up and that’s what makes mezcal so captivating. But Tio Reys comments grounded my perspective a little more. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico, and for so many of these families, [making mezcal] isn’t something they suddenly decided to do. [They think]: this is what I know how to do. I’m a farmer growing corn or other crops to bring in income and it’s another way to put food on the table. I felt this was important to keep in mind because it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of mezcal, but it’s important to remember that it is supporting people’s livelihoods. It’s good to keep this balance in mind.

CC: What’s the controversy involving mezcal in cocktails?  

EJ: At the beginning [of the cocktail section], I point out that in the mezcal drinking community, for a long time, people believe you shouldn’t mix or shoot the spirit. You should sip it. It is a beautiful spirit, and deserves the respect of savoring it in its purest form. The use of mezcal in cocktails is a little controversial for that reason, many purists feel cocktails mask the essence and lose all the character. I agree with that and respectfully disagree. I feel mezcal works very well in cocktails. There’s another aspect to the topic of sustainability. Mezcal is a spirit that takes a lot of time to produce. The most common mezcal varieties made these days take five to seven years for the plant to grow before they can be harvested and turned into the liquid. And as mezcal becomes more popular, the industry needs to keep the idea of sustainability in mind or else these plants won’t exist anymore if you overharvest. The idea of mezcal being a cocktail ingredient discourages purists because you’re using so much of it.

CC: Right now, you are riding the wave of Mezcal, but are there other books or ideas in the pipeline?

EJ: I don’t have anything formal right now on the books. Yet, one category of drink that is experiencing a resurgence but also has an interesting history is American Cider. They’re so many companies looking back at pre-prohibition cider traditions and making these beautiful ciders from heirloom apples. Many people who believe they don’t like cider but I want to challenge them to look a little harder. You might think you dislike cider but there’s probably one out there for you… you just haven’t’ found it yet. If you like beer or wine, there’s a cider you’ll like since it’s a beautiful middle ground between those two [wine and beer] and this would make for a really interesting deep dive.

To get your hands on this fun, fabulous read (and check out all the stellar photos taken by Emma!), visit the links below. Happy reading and enjoy the smokey sips!

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound


Why You Should Spend Time around Brooklyn’s Bedford Avenue

Chilo’s Tacos y Tostadas

Brooklyn’s food scene has blown up and it’s full of so many hidden gems. With so many bodegas (no complaints though) and renovated apartments, it can be difficult to find delish dines. Thankfully, finding hidden gems are my specialty. And once I’ve found a standout spot, there’s a compulsion to spread the world! One of my favorite areas for great, diverse food is around Bedford Avenue in Bed-Stuy. I’ve rounded up a few of my go-to gems for quick, quality, finger-lickin’ delicious bites! Oh yeah… they’re also easy on the wallet!

Napoleon Southern Cuisine and Bakery

1180 Bedford Ave.

(347) 663-3069


If you ask me, there should be more southern soul food hautes in Brooklyn. Who can get enough of succulent fried chicken, savory sautéed or stewed veggies, and fluffy biscuits? I can always find this and much more at Napoleon’s Southern Cuisine and  Bakery.  When you visit try the drool-worthy Uncle Nay’s Chicken and Waffles including a Red Velvet waffle option! If you’re all about chicken you can get it smothered, jerked, friend, or baked. Meatloaf, turkey wings are available too. Check out their to-die-for desserts: sweet potato cheesecake, strawberry cheesecake, and banana pudding. Although, closed on Mondays, all are welcome to a southern Sunday dinner, Tuesdays through Sundays. Reserve  Monday for a one-day cleanse, and then return to the oh-so-good ‘southern comfort.’

Home Frite

1047 Bedford Ave.

(347) 627-3266

If thick, perfectly fried hand cut fries are your jam, than head to Home Frite.  Created by Bed-Stuy residents, Ian Vernon and Crystal Lingle, in 2013, these Belgian style French fries first started as a pop-up at Smorgasburg. Now, it has a storefront on Bedford and a booth in the DeKalb Market in downtown Brooklyn. Served piping hot, fries paired with your choice of luscious gourmet dipping sauces like herb-ocado, lemon garlic aioli and curry ketchup. The fry frenzy menu choices are taken a step further with the Cheese Burger fries (it’s just like it sounds, minus the bun). Or, you can opt for the wings, chicken sandwiches, or “meaty” veggie burger.

Home Frite- Crispy Chicken Salad and Fries
Crispy Chicken Salad & Fries w/ herb-ocado & curry ketchup


Imagine  a place which makes ‘Taco Tuesday’ a weeklong event. That’s Chilo’s. Tacos, tostadas, and tortas galore are faithfully served in the taco truck parked behind Chilo’s (the bar). This favored Mexican street food spot has a cult following, and it’s easy to be sucked in. Delicioso aromas of chorizo, smoked beef, pork belly, and carnitas waft into the air while being prepared outside. There are even bold selections like huitlacoche (corn mushroom or Mexican truffle), and nopales (cactus). Pair your comida with a marg or adult slushie in the al fresco dining area, and chillax for the rest of the evening.

Fancy Nancy

1038 Bedford Avenue (corner of Bedford Ave. and Lafayette)

(347) 350-7289

Known for being a groovy retro dinning space with whimsy  cocktails and a stellar food menu to match, Fancy Nancy, provides a sense of belonging for all guests. Friendly faces and warm greetings set the tone for a satisfying experience. This neighborhood joint’s serves delightful dishes like the all-time favorite Twice Cooked Duck Wings with smoked habañero honey sauce, plus Roasted Sweet Potato  and Avocado salad, and the succulent Fancy Burger 2.0 with peppercorn cheese sauce. All dishes pair well with the cold beer on tap, natural wines (chemical and additive free) and dope glamour drinks, like the Calamity Jane with whiskey, black tea and spicy honey.



Roasted Sweet Potato + Avocado Salad

The Montgomery Old Fashioned Review


If you are an Old Fashioned cocktail lover, here is a thoughtful twist on your reliable go-to. The Montgomery Old Fashioned at Pig Bleeker in New York City, is a welcomed sipper for whiskey drinkers and an approachable intro for Scotch novices. The combination of chocolate bitters and semi-sweet orange curaçao (citrus flavored liqueur) adds an appetizing texture to the tipple as it’s not too sweet. But, the swill’s showstopper is the hefty pour of Scotch Whiskey which ties the ingredients together. Tom Walker, bar manager at Pig Bleeker, suggests using a single malt Scotch if you’d like to indulge, but a quality scotch blend would do just fine. Either way, The Old Fashioned Montgomery inspires creativity to honor the classics, while embracing modern interpretation.

Wan to make The Montgomery Old Fashioned at home? This lovely bev is simple to make and you can check it out on POUR.

Don’t Give Up the Ship Review


There’s a sexy new kid on the block in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. As a previous brothel, now turned cocktail lounge, Barely Disfigured has created quite a delicious stir since November 2017. Challenging the conventions of classic French cocktails, ‘Barely’ serves modern takes on the traditional swills. One such drink is Don’t Give Up the Ship: a combination of gin, Fernet (an Italian amaro or bitter), and sweet vermouth. At first sip, a burst of citrus greets you. Then, the harmonious blend of  gin, bitter sweet fernet, and orange bitters  shines together  for a smooth finish. This refreshing treat is one, you definitely wouldn’t want to give up.

Find out more about Don’t Give Up the Ship on POUR, where you can see how to create the drink and find out juicy stories from behind the bar.

Peat’s Dragons Review

clover club pete dragon
Photograph by Matthew Messina

One of the few original cocktails bars in New York City, Clover Club captures the revelry of the 1920 prohibition era, with touches of modern influences. The large saloon offers overs 30 spectacular cocktails. The beverage menu is thoughtfully divided into categories, such as Stirred, Sours & Fizzes, Royales, and more. It’s almost impossible for guests to not be impressed by the library.

One favorite is Peat’s Dragons – a smoky take on a Manhattan. Although named after the children’s story, the swill is quite mature as it uses a peaty scotch whisky, (hence the name), and a smoked style Sfumato amaro. This boozy-forward bev is briskly stirred and strained into a two-part glass: part is poured into a chilled glass and the remainder, into a mini carafe cradled in crushed ice. Since Peat’s Dragons is served like such, the flavors are smooth and free to mingle, creating a frosty, long lasting sipper.

Thirsty for more? Check out Peat’s Dragons on the Clover Club episode of POUR with Beverage Director, Tom Macy.

Smoky Goodnight Moon Review

Photograph by Matthew Messina

Meet the Smoky Goodnight Moon – a grown-up nightcap inspired by the beloved childhood story, only available at Alice’s Arbor in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

Don’t let the name fool you, this smooth swill is no sleeper. It consists of all-star pairings of bourbon, spiced rum, and honey, topped off with a splash of lavender. The thoughtful balance of flavors create an inviting sipper, sure to please an array tastes.

Plus, as if that wasn’t enough to wet your whistle, there’s has an off-menu element… smoke! The smoke comes from a wooden cedar board which is scorched (by a torch!) and then covered by a lowball glass to capture the smoky goodness. Then, the shaken cocktail is poured into the glass releasing a seductive cedar aroma. The on-menu version is Goodnight Moon, but if you want the smoky wow-factor, just ask!

Check out how the Smoky Goodnight Moon is made, here on POUR.

Jet Away for Oktoberfest

It’s Oktoberfest and Samuel  Adams, in conjunction with Jetblue Airline, is kicking off the festivities in style. For the very first time, Sam Adams will sponsor an inflight beer tasting for passengers attending  the Great American Beer Festival® in Denver, Colorado.  The festival (October 5th until 7th) is the premier U.S. beer event which celebrate American craft beer and breweries at the Colorado Convention Center.

Jim Koch (Brewer and Founder of Sam Adams)

While airborne, an exclusive tasting will be led by Brewer and Founder of Sam Adams, Jim Koch. Beer-lovers will enjoy the beloved, gold medal-winning, Samuel Adams  Octoberfest brew, known for its smooth, creamy, yet slightly sweet malty flavor. That’s not all… two additional secret selections from the iconic brewer will be savored during the flight, while passengers engage in Oktoberfest-themed activities (with many surprises!) to help the time fly by.

Interested in this unique getaway? Visit and book your seat on JetBlue Flight No. 97 which departs from New York City’s JFK Airport at 8:22 PM on Thursday October 5th. Sit back, relax and enjoy a new mile-high experience. Prost! (Cheers!)

Tantalizing Summer Treats in NYC

The most tempting draw to dessert is that it’s not a necessity, but instead, a novelty. Desert has a special meal-completing  touch which adds to each rewarding bite. For many, dessert is hands-down the best part of dining. Sweet-tooth fanatics wouldn’t dream of ending their feast without a sugared treat, and rightly so! New York has some innovative alternatives to the typical summer frozen eats. Take a break from the typical and venture to tantalizing, drool-worthy summer  desserts around the city. A few are even dressed with Pop Rocks and paired with booze! (Seriously!)



Honey Custard (top)  Carrot Cake Moon Pies (bottom)


The cool, creamy, and texture-focused sweets at Chef John Frasier’s veggie haute, Nix, is sure to satisfy an array of sweet-seekers. The whimsical selections such as Dirt Pudding with gummy worms, Carrot Cake Moon Pies, and peachy Honey Custard will evoke fond childhood memories while impressing grown-up taste buds. Plus, each bite or spoonful shall brighten the sunniest of summer days. Desserts at this Michelin -starred dine are not to be missed!






The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel New York 

James’ Peachtree Fizz + Palm Court Summer Verrine


Move over afternoon tea, booze-paired desserts have arrived in The Palm Court of The Plaza Hotel. All summer long, an exclusive NOLET’S Silver cocktail and dessert pairing menu will be offered in the iconic hotel. Relax in the picturesque Palm Court with a made-to-order gin martini served tableside from the NOLET’S Martini Cart while enjoying a decadent dessert, flawlessly created by Pastry Chef Matthew Lambie. Chef Lambie thoughtfully highlighted the sophisticated flavor notes in NOLET’S Silver Gin and paired them with two addictive desserts: Hibiscus/Violet Vacherin and Palm Court Summer Verrine. The verrine is paired with the refreshing James’ Peachtree Fizz cocktail (with peach puree and lemon juice) while the Vacherin complements the Gin Blush sipper (with Chambord and raspberry puree). This is an ideal must-visit opportunity while taking a staycation, if you don’t have a chance to escape the city this summer. These selections will be available to all until Labor Day.

Gin Blush + Hibiscus/Violet Vacherin


il Buco

il Buco is of course one of New York City’s most beloved dines known for its impeccable mix of northern Spanish and Mediterranean influences. Not only are the savory dishes a thoughtful fusion of tradition and innovation, but the same creativity overflows into the desserts as well. One such selection, the chocolate ganache, is a silky, semi-sweet confection, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with Pop Rocks! The creative play on sweet and savory with a bang, is as much of a thrill to eat as it is a cold, bold summer delight.

il buco
Chocolate Ganache