We sat down with Nick Fittipaldi, General Manager at Low Bar in Oakland, California, to talk about his new cocktail Salvation & Stuff which features Xila Liqueur. He shared his inspiration for the cocktail, how he builds community at Low Bar and more.
Low Bar is our way to share our experiences with anyone who walks through our doors. It's a joyful exploration into our vast Chicano culture and how it influences our love for food and cocktails. Nothing is cooler than connecting with people over a dish or drink. And whether that connection is through a shared nostalgia or something new altogether, it's freakin' delicious.
It’s a little corny, but the inspiration for this cocktail was corn. Daniel Paez, owner of Low Bar, and I were thinking about elote and how we could pull elements of this tasty treat and implement them in cocktail form. From there, we came up with the idea for the corn chip rim and the tortilla-infused reposado tequila. Xila made sense in the cocktail – I first tried it at North Light, a bar in Oakland. Adding Xila to the cocktail helped bind the other flavors while also adding other subtle but complex notes to the drink. What we ended up with is something crushable but savory, spicy but refreshing.
We call the tortilla-infused reposado tequila tequila dorado. To make it, we fried house made tortillas and steeped them in reposado tequila for 48 hours. Then we froze it and scraped off the fat – it’s essentially a fat wash. The infusion adds a fun, corny, rich, savory flavor to the tequila.
We call the corn chip rim “Lord’s Dust” after a scene in Nacho Libre where they call the eucharist “the Lord’s chips.” We were laughing about how much we liked the elote chips from Trader Joes. We wound up sitting down and grinding stuff in the back for a long time. Our final recipe includes tortilla chips, dehydrated lime peels, chipotle and ascorbic acid. The name of the cocktail also comes from Nacho Libre – we have a TV where we show movies, mostly movies we like and enjoy from our childhood. Nacho Libre is a favorite of ours – it’s on the hard drive, so we play it pretty often.
Salvation & Stuff
1 oz. Dickel Sour Mash Whisky
1 oz. Tequila Dorado
.75 Lime Juice
.5 Gomme Syrup
Dash of house spicy-smoky tincture
Spiced corn chip rim
Build in tin, add ice and shake. Double strain into rocks glass with corn chip rim. Served on rocks
There is a lot of growth and passion to be had in this industry. I really enjoy connecting with people on both sides of the bar. There’s a shared creative aspect and freedom that is hard to get in other industries. Being able to create something night after night that people genuinely enjoy makes me super happy. I’m definitely more of a breadth than depth kind of person – I’m interested and curious about food, music, art and travel. Learning from people and hearing about their experiences and interests, absorbing as much as I can from the people around me, and human connection are what bring me the most joy. ‘Treat everyone like they’re your friend until they give you a reason not to’ has always been my little motto.
I’m fairly new to the Bay Area, and the majority of my connection to the community has been through the bar and restaurant industry. I learn about other businesses and ideas through the people that sit down at Low Bar. It offers me insight into what is going on, where to go next and who the people that I am serving genuinely are. Being behind the bar has offered me so much when it comes to collecting ideas and then implementing them in a controlled space where everyone there can benefit.