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Drink up with Bar Takito’s Cocktails

This West Loop spot is serving up Latin classics with a twist

Photo via Meghan Leigh Photography

With fresh ingredients and interesting flavor profiles you won’t find anywhere else, Bar Takito {201 North Morgan Street, Chicago; 312.888.9485} should be your first stop on any cocktail tour of Chicago. Led by Beverage Manager Brenda Ramirez, the West Loop spot is a perfect summer destination. Before working at locations like Zapatista and Karen’s on Green, Ramirez finally landed at Bar Takito. Now she’s telling us the secrets behind her colorful and authentic bar program.

Photo via Meghan Leigh Photography

DiningOut: What led you to Bar Takito?

Brenda Ramirez: I was attracted to Bar Takito because of the fresh and colorful execution of Latin American food and cocktails. I’ve never seen more life in a restaurant or bar before stepping inside Bar Takito’s doors. Its undeniable energy is translated very genuinely from guest to guest. Each of us on the Bar Takito team communicates our knowledge about our recipes and the impact they have in a cultural sense.

Photo via Bar Takito

What do you want people to experience when they dine with you?

Bar Takito wants our customers to understand that we love with our eyes. I want each and every one of our customers to love my cocktails, not just through the taste, but through its aesthetics. Using fresh produce like herbs, flowers, or fresh fruit reminds all of us of Mother Nature’s presence and gives each cocktail its own identity. Tasting these unique flavors bring customers closer to the Mexican heritage that I continue to embrace. My palette has been trained to reconnect with my heritage and I want our guests to experience the Mexican mentality of food just as I do.

Photo via Meghan Leigh Photography

What are some of your favorite cocktails on the menu right now?

My tastes change depending on the mood or season! With that in mind, for the first time ever we have a frozen cocktail, Como La Flor, which is a fun medley of tequila and pisco, along with fresh watermelon juice and a Thai basil infusion. This cocktail is fruity yet herbaceous. It’s not just a mouthwatering frozen drink, it’s also my own personal homage to the late Mexican singer, Selena. She is a true example of empowered Mexican females in American culture and I hope that Como La Flor reminds customers of that.

You can pair Como La Flor with any light and acidic shared plates. Chef Yanni has amazing variations of ceviches that go hand in hand with the light and soft flavors of our frozen cocktail.

Photo via Bar Takito

What is something people might not know about Latin cocktails?

Latin cocktails are stigmatized negatively in the bar world. For example, mainstream bars often cut corners when preparing mojitos and margaritas. Instead of muddled fresh mint and limes, some bars use pre-made mojito and margarita mixes because they are a cheaper substitution. Nevertheless, it never does the cocktail justice. These Latin cocktails are some of the most creative expressions of cultural diversity, however, the general public tends to experience them with non-fresh ingredients and lose out on a genuine experience.

Bartenders and mixologists have seen a rise in their “cool factor” recently!

Bartenders and mixologists are seen under a different light today because they take risks. Stepping out of the box and utilizing creativity allows a cocktail to be an extension of the bartender. Bartenders walk a fine line of being artists, scientists, and mixologists. It takes a physical and mental toll, but people can make a career out of bartending.

Photo via Bar Takito

What is your favorite part of being in the Chicago food world?

My favorite part about living in Chicago is being a part of an ever-changing, urban, and multi-cultural city. This heavily impacts the restaurant/bar business. There’s always a new restaurant opening or some hip cocktail bar popping up. Chicago is never boring. Social media undoubtedly helps spread the word and connect Chicagoans to new and exciting dining experiences.

By Kaleigh Glaza, Online Editor