From sophisticated margaritas to a primo Paloma, mixologist Paul McGee captures the flavor of the borderlands at Lonesome Rose.
He’s best known for working wonders with rum at Logan Square tiki hot spot Lost Lake, but these days renowned beverage director Paul McGee has tequila on the brain, having just developed the cocktail program for Tex-Mex-inspired café Lonesome Rose. It’s the latest of his successes with the hitmakers at Land and Sea Dept. (Longman & Eagle, Cherry Circle Room), and it gave the Houston native the chance to get back to his Texas roots.
The results? A smart lineup of drinks with real south-of-the-border flair, from margaritas that feature lime juice hand-squeezed to order and available with house, call or premium spirits (“It gives people three different layers of flavors depending on [their preferred] price point,” says McGee) to a must-try take on the classic tequila-and-grapefruit soda Paloma. “[My business partner Shelby Allison and I] wanted to bump up the pleasant bitterness you get from a grapefruit, to make a better version,” he explains. That translates into a layered but dangerously drinkable elixir of fresh grapefruit juice, lime juice, Campari, dashes of minty Branca Menta amaro and a topping of bubbly Topo Chico water (“It’s, like, aggressively carbonated,” laughs McGee). Add in executive chef Pete Coenen’s crave-worthy all-day plates—pork carnitas breakfast tacos, double-stacked chorizo burgers, grilled cheese quesadillas—and you’ve got a neighborhood destination worth tipping your sombrero to.