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Published April 15, 2009

May Day
Tequila Has a New House of Worship

The tequila you used to know is dead. Forget that tequila.

Today, we start fresh with a little inspiration from some guys who know a thing or two about booze—a couple blocks down from their home base, on a curry-heavy block of the East Village, the cocktail pioneer-magicians of Death & Co. have a new baby, and inside it's all tequila, all the time. (OK, there's mezcal too.)

Behold, your first look inside Mayahuel, a brand-new cocktail bar taking dead aim at Mexico's national spirit—and set to be the next big downtown cocktail enclave. It's soft-open for the owners' friends and family now.

Walking in through the low-slung door of Mayahuel (legendary goddess of the maguey plant), you'll feel as if you're stepping into a tiny Mexican monastery where everyone worships at the altar of agave. Before you notice the church pew benches, the confessional booths for two or the dark wood and bright tiles everywhere, a glistening wall of backlit tequila will call out to you, and you will be powerless under its might.

So don't fight it—slide up to the bar and order one of master mixologist Phil Ward's new creations (like the Loop Tonic—blanco tequila, green chartreuse, vermouth and celery bitters) before finding your way upstairs. There, under a stained-glass chandelier meant to evoke a tarantula, you can settle with your favorite señorita, a few small bites and get to know tequila again for the first time.

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