Alibi V.27 No.16 • April 19-25, 2018 

Drinking with the Pros

David Hernández Vega of Limpia Cocktails

The bartender making mezcal cocktails at pop-ups around town

Last week I went to a cocktail pop-up at Sister, not fully knowing what to expect. I knew, though, that I like a good cocktail, and that Sister sets a pretty high bar for what they consider a good cocktail.

Behind the bar that night was David Hernández Vega, composed and courteous despite the increasingly long line of people waiting for one of the three signature mezcal cocktails he was mixing: the Paloma Negra, the Viento and El Pepinillo. Each drink came in a paper cup stamped with the Virgen de Guadalupe image that Hernández Vega uses for Limpia, his solo cocktail project. After several years of bartending at La Cumbre Brewing, Zacatecas and The Copper Lounge, in addition to a couple similar solo pop-ups, he has already developed a pretty dedicated following. After trying a couple of his drinks, I can count myself in that following.

After his whirlwind night at Sister I spoke with Hernández Vega a little about his career and how he came to launch Limpia.

“I began bartending five years ago at El Moro Spirits and Tavern, and quickly realized that the focus is not solely on the beverage itself, but the hospitality and the overall experience. Growing up in a traditional Mexican family with a history in cooking and making beer, everything has always had passion in it. I am not necessarily trying to flip the cocktail world on its head, but the beverages that I make are reflections of what I feel, and what I feel that my guests will enjoy. The cocktails that I make are unique because I use high quality spirits, fresh ingredients, and I make them with a love for what I'm doing.

“ ‘Limpia’ by definition is a Mexican sacramental cleansing. It cleanses body, emotions, mind and soul from negative energies or thoughts.

“To me, Limpia is a way of expressing myself. I use cocktails and the craft of making them to open the window of what I want to see in the immediate future. I have found an avenue to help people enjoy themselves and create good memories, all while doing what I enjoy. Using a liquid platform, I can hand someone a drink and make an experience. I look to create a rapport and develop a relationship, and the drinks I make are the catalyst to that.

“Currently the only place to try Limpia cocktails is at any of my pop-ups around town. The next pop up will be on May 30 at Sister from 7 to 10pm, with a whole new menu.”

Viento

If you’d like to try your hand at one of Limpia’s summer cocktails at home, here’s the recipe for Viento, a sweet and smoky drink that Hernández Vega made for his first pop-up.

Ingredients:

2oz Ilegal Mezcal
1/2oz Aperol
1 1/2oz Pineapple juice
1/2oz Lemon Juice
1tsp Sugar
Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, shake well and strain over crushed ice.

Garnish with pineapple leaf and an umbrella.