Each week, Jessie Donnelly puts together three cocktail specials – and with rare exception, each cocktail has never before graced the bar of Tortilla Flats. The Hope Street restaurant has barely changed its menu in 47 years, but Donnelly has dutifully created brand new libations for nearly a decade. Tortilla Flats is the only dedicated Mexican bar in the East Side, so the pressure is high to do south-of-the-border right.
“My goal is to make the perfect margarita for everybody,” says Donnelly. “But I always tell people, I can make a margarita a hundred different ways. So you tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll find a way to make it.”
Donnelly is also a trained chef, and she loves to incorporate seasonal fruits into her concoctions, including berries she sometimes picks herself. When it came to creating the “mojitarita,” Donnelly saw two great things – the Cuban mojito and the Mexican margarita – and mixed them together with some tropical garnish. The mint, pineapple, and limes combine nicely, but the surprise is a top layer of Kraken dark rum, which complements the salted rim with a licorice spice.
“People love it,” says Donnelly, who has hundreds of one-off cocktails to compare it to. “I’d say it’s the fifth most popular we’ve ever served.” 355 Hope Street