Oh, tequila. What a loyal friend you’ve been. At dorm room parties, at birthday parties, at happy hour. Some of us even remember you before you were famous, years and years ago, when the only place to find you was the corner store on the outskirts of town where no one spoke English. It’s easier these days. Las Perlas, an agave-liquor-only bar on East 6th Street, preserves that dual sense of convenience and discovery. Though Las Perlas has only been around for a few years, it feels like an old, locals-only hole-in-the-wall — the hand-painted walls, the mounted goat heads, the Virgin Guadalupe in constant prayer atop the wall of alcohol.
“The bar was designed in the image of the bars in Oaxaca,” Noel Carlon, the head bartender, says. “The initial vision was to have a boutique agave bar where you could find tequilas and mezcals you can’t find anywhere else.”
As far as drinks go, they’ve got the familiar variations, and then harder-to-come-by Mexican liquors. If you’re feeling bold, try a shot of the Siempre, a smoky Sotol that just recently became available in the states. Another one that’s worth trying straight is the semi-sweet and peppery Fidencio Mezcal.
Otherwise, a good place to start is the cocktails. Carlon recommends the Spicy Daisy — tequila, combier, jalapeño, cucumber, lime, and agave — which has got something of a cult following. Another signature is the Poblano Escobar, with mezcal, pineapple, poblano, agave and cumin.
Prefer your tequila in tried-and-true form? Stop by for Margarita Monday, with $5 margaritas from 5-8. You’ll be in perfect time to grab a handmade taco — Las Perlas has a team of inhouse taco ladies cooking on the patio every day (not just Tuesday!), starting at 5PM on weekdays and at 3PM on weekends. And then come back on Wednesday night, because there’s an all-girl mariachi band, usually taking the floor at 10.
If nothing else, come for the pool table, the patio, the little square of dance floor. The great music. The crowd of regulars. Plus, the education. Carlon can tell you anything there is to know about what’s on the shelves. Want to know which Mexican state Tequila comes from? The name for the heart of an agave cactus? All the varieties of magic that happen to get that big spiky plant into your glass?
It’s a secret. You’ll just have to stop by to find out.