Lingering beneath the surface of the lush landscapes of the Yucatan Peninsula, a unique geological formation offers a tempting escape into the underworld. Translating from Spanish as the “sacred well," cenotes are deep chasms that cut through the limestone shelf on Mexico’s easternmost peninsula.
If you want to explore a cenote without leaving Victoria, you're in luck - go no further than 768 Yates St. While Cenote Restaurant & Lounge does not offer the temperate weather and beachfront paradise of the Yucatan, it’s easy to get drawn in to the fantastic cocktails they offer year-round. And since Mexican flavours are some of our favourites here at Twist, we chose Cenote for our first cocktail bar review. Plus, they have a large and super fun menu posted on their website, and we can really only drool over cocktails for so long before trying them out.
A highlight of our trip underground (the clever name is due to their location below the main street level - basically walk to Brickyard Pizza and look down) was their Dragon Berry, marrying the smokey complexity of Los Siete Misterios Doba-Yej mezcal with the richness and texture of Taylor Fladgate 10 year Tawny. We love simple drinks done with quality ingredients, and the Dragon Berry is just that - Triple Sec, honey syrup, and lime are all that's added, allowing the spirits to stand out.
A side note on mezcal: if you haven’t familiarized yourself with this spirit (or have been corrupted by 80’s worm-based horror stories), you are doing your palate a disservice. While we have a fairly limited selection in B.C., there are a good handful of excellent options available, including the aforementioned Los Siete Misterios. We’ll likely gush about this agave spirit’s versatility and distinctiveness in another post; we're fans here at Twist, as evidenced by our featured mezcal cocktail, the Oaxaca Libre, at the 2017 Art of the Cocktail (check out the recipe here). Where were we? Oh right, enjoying another cocktail at Cenote…
A second favorite, on another end of the flavor spectrum, was the De Vine Corpse Reviver. Slightly closer to home than the Yucatan, De Vine Spirits has a bounty of amazing offerings right here on the Saanich Peninsula. Based around their Vin Gin, which is distilled from B.C. grapes, the Corpse Reviver can certainly get your body movin’. Careful though, it’s good enough to do the opposite as well.
This cocktail also features another exquisite B.C. product, Okanagan Spirits Taboo Genuine Absinthe. A couple drops of this blindingly good product unleashes a wave of herbal deliciousness. Word to the wise, and the home cocktail creator - if you want to add complexity to your gin cocktail, consider Taboo Absinthe. It’s not cheap, but as we mentioned, just a touch (or the wash of your glass) complicates your concoction like not much else can. We often use a mister, like this one from Cocktail Emporium. Misters are a great way to add aromas and control small quantities of product. They also make you feel fancy, which is never a bad thing.
So next time you're looking for creative cocktails in a unique, funky atmosphere, head underground and let us know what we need to try at our next visit!
Note: We are not affiliated with any of the restaurants, lounges, or bars we review. and we aren't being compensated, either. We are simply celebrating our awesome cocktail culture here on the west coast! Cheers.