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Deep South Taco reveals new cocktails with crafty names

We rejoiced when the cocktail movement began several years ago.

Today, cocktails are the highlight of our night out, which got us to thinking, how do they come up with the funny drink names?

We met up with Ben Lewis, director of operations for Deep South Taco, which is revamping its food and drink menu just in time for the summer patio scene. The new menu has some different food items, like a new Baja shrimp taco, shrimp ceviche and a scorpion taco listed as the world's hottest ever.

The intriguing new Mexi-Ritos burritos come one pound or three pounds. To share (or for the very hungry), the Lucha-Rito weighs in at whopping seven pounds.

And with the food comes new drinks.

“When we opened we didn’t want to be left out of the craft cocktail scene, yet we have to make the drink fast since the average time people spend at our tables isn’t as long as other restaurants.”

Deep South Taco bartender Jay McFadden prepares the Lucha 15 with Cazadors Reposado tequila, agave nectar, lemon juice and champagne. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

To that end, DST’s playfully named cocktails are 100 percent original to the restaurant, but designed to entice guests by name and taste.

“We design a cocktail first, then give it a name. Honestly, it’s a scramble to come up with names. It’s the most difficult part because the drink is going to be known by that forever,” said Lewis. “Whether it's a fun or risque name, I always try to get the recipe done first.

[PHOTO GALLERY: Deep South Taco's new cocktails]

Many of DST’s cocktails are based off classics that were tweaked to fit the restaurant’s feel. Yet behind the name is a hint at what you might be ordering. The Pina Y Pisco is pineapple (pina) and pisco, a brandy made in Peru and Chile. The cocktail also adds Lejay cassis, ginger beer and fresh lime.

It might be a hilarious name that attracts your attention, like the margarita called simply Boom that is made with Olmeca Altos Tequila Reposado, orange curacao, blood orange, hibiscus and agave nectar. So is it Boom as in "Boom! That's good" or "boom" you're going to hit the floor? Could be either way, right?

The Love Machine is made with Gem & Bolt mezcal, strawberry puree, Agavero, Chartreuse and Deep South Taco's rita mix. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

And usually there is a fun story about the drink, Lewis said. "Our Last Dance is a spoof on the famous Last Word cocktail – the cocktail to end all the cocktails. It's made with El Buho mezcal and Chartreuse, which has a high alcohol volume."

Deep South Taco's Cinco de Mayo Street Fiesta, at Ellicott Street between Broadway and East Mohawk, featured music by West of the Mark and Strictly Hip along with margaritas, … 

When designing a cocktail, Lewis tries for a mood and emotion. “How do you feel afterward? Some drinks will help you mellow out, others are the punch in the mouth, like a long day at work. We try to come up with something a person might be feeling when they order,” he said.

The menu is broken down into sections so guests can direct themselves from there.

“I try to use a particular liquor and play that into the name of the cocktail,” Lewis said.

The El Jefe (the boss) is essentially a twist on a classic Manhattan that’s made with Hornitos black barrel-aged whiskey tequila, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth and Di Amore orange liqueur.

“It’s a way for a whiskey drinker try something different,” said Lewis, who noted about 90 percent of the cocktails they serve come from the menu. He credits the cocktail itself and the name as top selling points.

“It’s about what’s intriguing sounding and keeps someone’s interest once they taste it,” he said. "The name starts the conversation. People might ask ‘what’s a Vaquera?’ That’s Spanish for cowgirl.”

Restaurant notes: Deep South Taco, El Encanto

The Revenge of the Luchador is the odd combination of Old Forester bourbon, Ilegal Reposado (mescal) and Sandeman ruby port. “It’s a peculiar mix. Each ingredient is delicious on its own, but when mixed they really do work together,” he said. Luchadors are those funny and odd masked Mexican wrestlers, so the name fits.

DST makes its own margarita mix and cocktail ingredients like orange hibiscus syrup and dehydrated pineapple garnishes, etc. But don't go expecting to see a big cocktail production.

“Our scene is to make the drink fast,” he said.

Deep South Taco

Locations: 291 Ellicott St. and 1707 Hertel Ave. A third location is in the works for 6727 Transit Road.


Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (bar to midnight) Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight (bar to 1 a.m.) Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (bar to midnight) Sunday.

Cocktails: Costs range from $7 to $10.

Happy hour: 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 p.m. to close Monday through Thursday and 10 p.m. to close Friday and Saturday. With $5 sangria, $1 off bottled or draft beer and $28 DST-Rita pitchers.


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