Now I know the name of the bartender at Anepalco's at the Ayres: Cesar Cerrudo. Younger guy, incredibly talented, already filling up Anepalco's newish bar with travelers looking to unwind, business execs extending the night, and classy lushes cozying up to OC's latest restaurant to dive into the cocktail craze. He stocks all the tricks of the current trade: barrel-aged elixirs (the Vida, which I've previously hailed, tones down its chingazo to a sweeter finish after spending a month in oak), mezcal (Gilbert Marquez of Ilegal Mezcal is scheduled to make an appearance May 27 at a $25 tasting), and a taste for whipping up creations upon request.
Let Cerrudo take care of you–but at the end of the night, end with a Codigo, perhaps the best dessert cocktail I've ever tasted.
Although I have a sweet tooth par none (I can eat a big bag of Reese's peanut butter cups in a sitting), I generally don't like dessert cocktails: they're gimmicky, sloppy, and don't achieve the saccharine heights of a proper tiki drink. But Cerrudo blasts away any lowered expectations with this cocktail of Atlantic Rum, Averna, and a liquid taste of Mexico: banana simple syrup, vanilla extract, and what's mysteriously called "Aztec Chocolate Bitters" that taste like cacao straight from the patria. It's almost as sweet as a Bananas Foster, with the Averna and bitters tempering the banana and vanilla. While I love Anepalco's desserts, this is how I end my dinners now…and lunches, and brunches, and breakfasts. And quick snacks, and dessert-only meals, and…