A knee-jerk left turn onto E. 6th during my bicycle route to the Williamsburg bridge is regular – habitual, mindless. I notice the numbers on the left – 313 – I’ve already passed it. I backtrack, decide that yes, a post-close drink is a good move, especially when it is mezcal. I fiddle with my lock, attach my transport to a fence. I’m sure the owners of the apartment won’t mind – they are probably asleep at this hour on a Monday.
The black curtains over the windows are drawn; it is no surprise I have passed this bar many nights without notice. I walk in, obviously the only one in the place and Mayauel is staying open through their posted hours of 2:00am. I am informed last call will be at 1:30 as I am handed an extensive menu and a glass of water. I study, half eavesdropping on the bartender-barback banter. It is about Oaxaca and mezcal. I’m in good hands.
I fire off some questions about mezcal crema to learn it is mezcal with some of the sweetwater byproduct added. The menu touts an entire mezcal and sherry section. I want to stay for hours, but I have meetings and tastings in the morning and the bar will close. I haven’t even ordered a drink yet and I know I will be back. And there is food, of the spicy variety. We discuss the heat variation from jalepeno infusions.
The name itself of this bar is intriguing. Mayahuel is the Aztec goddess of the maguey plant (from which mezcal is distilled). She is depicted with many breasts to feed her drunken rabbit children.
I order a Killer Cortez – arbol chile mezcal, pineapple mezcal, tamarind sangrita, cumin syrup, yellow peppercorn. It has citrus component and is shaken, up in a coup. The heat is complex, both savory and one that builds in my chest. The pineapple and tamarind sweetness are present and balanced. All of my frustrations from work are gone.
The bartender and I chat about the bar, tasting menus, the neighborhood, palate preferences until the door opens near my last sip and a vibrant couple enters.
“Are you still open?” the girl asks in a carefree and still considerate way. “Okay, one drink.”
They sit, chattering. I finish my last sip and glance over, noticing immediately the English accent I met at another bar the week prior. He has extended his stay and I choose to say nothing. This seems like a date going well; I will not interfere.
The check presenter in front of me is folded leather, appropriate for the Mexican decor like the gorgeous tile work on the bar and table tops with legs of rugged wood.
With a pleasant burn in my chest I bike the rest of the way home considering the small size of the universe and what I will eat on my next visit.