Inside Look: Nixta, St. Louis

Long known as a beer destination, St. Louis hasn’t always been recognized for its cocktails, but that’s changing. In addition to well-respected bars like Planter’s House, Sanctuaria and Taste, newcomers like Nixta are among the reasons why the city made our Imbibe 75 list of places to visit in 2017. A far cry from your average neighborhood taco joint, the restaurant from James Beard Award nominee Ben Poremba boasts an eclectic personality with cocktails to match. “Agave spirits and rum are finally starting to be a more prominent spirit on cocktail menus around the country, and in smaller cities like St. Louis, we’re finally getting more great options,” says head bartender Drew Lucido. “Even five or six years ago we never would have seen spirits like these coming in because it all went to the larger cities.”

The menu includes a range of Central and South American spirits, including tequila, mezcal, pisco, cachaca and rum. On the cocktail side, head bartender Drew Lucido drew inspiration from Chef Tello Carreon’s menu and assembled a list of refreshing, food-friendly drinks. “I’m not trying to overwhelm people’s palates, so there are a lot of citrus drinks, and nothing is super boozy,” he says. “It’s all designed to fit in with the food of the restaurant.” 

Among the highlights are the Siete, which blends earthy tequila with bittersweet Salers and Cappelletti Aperitivo, and The Ocho (one of Lucido’s favorites), which combines mezcal, grapefruit, lime, maraschino liqueur and a ghost chili tincture. “It’s smoky up front,  then citrusy and dry with this great lingering heat,” he says.  And while Lucido’s cocktails show off the versatility of the resident spirits, he’s made sure there’s something for everyone. “We’re helping teach guests that tequila isn’t something you take with salt and a lime—it’s something to sip and savor,” says Lucido. “We have some dedicated people who come in that love tequila and mezcal. Others want to come in and have their Margaritas with Grand Marnier floats on top.”