By: Julieta Hernandez Photos by: Rachel Benavides
To be free of any cares, swaying in an Italian breeze, and sipping a cocktail in a hammock: that is the L’Amaca, a curated escape in a glass, and a fresh introduction to the craft revolution at Katz 21’s nightspot, Club 21.
When professional mixologist Devin Hoefling returned to the Coastal Bend, he brought back a few tricks with him from his time as a craft bartender in Houston. L’Amaca, a cognac-based newcomer to the Club 21 cocktail list, is his original recipe that pulls in different influences from his experiences. Like a lot of great creations, it started simple: with a good shrub syrup.
“This drink was one I made up while in Houston. Up there, we had a non-alcoholic drink program, and we made shrub sodas. So, I wanted to incorporate that into a cocktail,” Hoefling says. “Shrub syrup is basically one part of juice, sugar, and vinegar. It’s refreshing, it’s fruit-forward; it’s different, but it’s a really, really good ingredient.”
While cognac may typically be overlooked as a cocktail spirit, the L’Amaca brings out the bright side of this oaky-aroma brandy. When combined with high-quality meletti, a good solid coconut-vinegar shrub, a little lemon kick, and a dash or two of flavored bitters, this cocktail sips as easily as kicking your feet up in that hammock and feeling a little tipsy bliss.
“It’s like looking over at the Mediterranean, just chilling,” Hoefling laughed. “That’s the garnish, the little lemon peel up with the thyme sitting across—that’s me, chilling on that hammock.”
Balancing out different tastes and introducing new ingredients is Hoefling’s specialty. Making a fresh, easy-to-drink cocktail that also introduces the sipper to something they typically wouldn’t try otherwise is how you trust a bartender for a good experience.
“My goal for Katz at this moment, as far as getting all these new drinks in and our bartenders trained, is to introduce people to these new spirits and into cocktails that may be new to them,” Hoefling said. “It’s not only the bartenders expanding their skills, but a guest is able to learn too; like, ‘What is this? Why are you putting this in that drink?’ That way, we can give them a new experience as well as a story behind every cocktail.”
Besides the L’Amaca, a great refresher for South Texas heat waves, the Katz 21 bar crew is releasing fresh, exciting new cocktails all season with a focus on unique spirits and their unpredictable pairings.