The Next Coolest Bar in Downtown

Posted by Glenn Gritzner on November 23, 2009

Hello Enthusiasts –

Becoming an amateur enthusiast is an interesting journey. It starts with having a genuine interest in exploring new places – and frequenting places that you like. It’s an interest that can’t be forced. But what happens over time is that you just get to know the ins and outs of what’s going on – it was that natural evolution that led to so many people suggesting I start this blog. So when people ask me how I became so knowledgeable about all these places, the simple answer is by exploring. Nothing too complicated.

But then, something interesting starts to happen. When people start to recognize that others are turning to you for advice, or when they start to see that your passion for what you’re doing is legitimate and that you really do know what you’re talking about, or when they know that your blog is getting around, they start to come to you. Beyond that, you simply become friends with the owners and proprietors and workers at these establishments, and like in all friendships, they just invite you to events and parties and interesting things.

Hence, the fact that I found myself at a pre-opening preview of what I think will become the next “it” bar in Downtown: Las Perlas.

It’s the latest jewel in the crown of Cedd Moses’ empire, which includes Seven Grand, the Doheny, Broadway Bar, Golden Gopher, Tony’s, even a piece of Casey’s, the Irish place. (people often ask me how these places don’t cannibalize each other and actually continue to make money. Answer: Cedd’s true genius is in finding cheap real estate.)

Much like Seven Grand is with whiskey, Las Perlas will be focused on a single spirit: mezcal. Which, for those of you who don’t know, is the mother of tequila. Except Las Perlas is going to take it another step: it will ONLY serve mezcal, tequila, and beer. That’s it. But, in Cedd’s typical fashion, the selections will be unique, top shelf, and vast. There will be mezcal-centered cocktails that promise to be fabulous. There will be a special margarita machine squeezing fresh limes for each drink, allowing for both quality and quantity. And mezcal is interesting – if you think “ugh – I can’t drink tequila ever since college”, you’re in for an education. It’s much like wine in its variety and flavor profiles – I was drinking “single vineyard” mezcal from a village outside Oaxaca when I was there.

I will admit to not being a tequila-phile. I know enough to know the difference between “sipping tequilas” and “shooting tequilas”, but that’s about it. But I am looking forward to learning so much more about it after the very preliminary education I got the other night. For instance, the name: Las Perlas. It comes from when they’re testing the mezcal, and they take a long straw out of the barrel and let it into a gourd. When they look into the gourd, they are looking for “las perlas” – pearls – on the top of the mezcal as an indicator of quality. So Las Perlas really means ‘only the best.’ Or, as Cedd put it, it basically means “it’s the sh-t”.

So that’s all well and good, but does that alone make me think it will be the next “in” bar? No. The decor, thankfully, breaks out of the darkish, speakeasyish feel in so many of Cedd’s establishments. Cedd, his designer Ricky, and his chief bartender (Raul, who’s been camping at Cole’s while Las Perlas gets up and running) took a trip to Oaxaca earlier this year for inspiration, and it shows. The decor isn’t done yet, but you can already tell that it’s going to come across as “sophisticated Mexican”. Really fun color schemes, fantastic light fixtures, great booths, inviting layout. There will be the usual great jukebox and pool table plus what I think will quickly become the highlight of the place, an indoor/outdoor patio raised up off the street.

Yes, it’s a minor risk – will a bar that only serves mezcal really attract people? I think once people try it, they’ll come back. If it looks even half as cool as it seems like it will, people will come back. The fact that Cedd is opening it will draw people in the first place. Plus, it’s right across from Cole’s/the Varnish (on Main just past 6th), which is also across from The Association, so there will be built in foot traffic (and the ability to get food from Cole’s).

When will it open? Depending on the City and permits and whatnot, hopefully in January. But you can now be cool with your friends. Next time they say “where should we grab a drink?”, you can nonchalantly say “well, I wish we could go to this really cool new bar called Las Perlas, but it’s not open yet.” And in the meantime, get used to drinking tequila again.

Happy travels, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.