Photography Note: Photos for this post were taken by the author, Judd Smith.
My search for great cocktails in Shreveport-Bossier led me to Zocolo Neighborhood Eatery, which has added an impressive cocktail list to the offerings behind the bar. I sat down with Aulden Morgan, who bartends at Zocolo and has for about two years. I asked what inspired the ambitious new libations list and what got him interested in creating infused liquors.
Morgan says he’s always been artsy and being creative with cocktails was a natural progression for him.
“Popping beers and making rum and cokes gets boring,” he said when I asked what inspired him to dive more into the cocktail recipe books.
Morgan’s curiosity led him to start creating quirky infused liquors that have become the base for Zocolo cocktails like the Carolina Reaper Mary or the Cucumber No. 5.
For the Carolina Reaper Mary, Morgan infuses vodka with Carolina Reaper peppers then adds it to the Zocolo Bloody Mary mix and an assortment of pickled veggies. Carolina Reapers are twice as hot as Ghost Peppers and currently hold the Guinness World Record for the world’s hottest pepper. It’s definitely spicy but still very, very tasty. I finished one. Can you? No hearts were burned in the process.
For the Cucumber No.5, a personal favorite, Morgan combines house-made rosemary simple syrup and cucumber infused gin with fresh lime juice, cucumbers and soda. This gin cocktail is “No. 5” because it’s the fifth incarnation of the cocktail. Morgan talks about creating drinks behind the bar just the way you would hear a chef talking about cooking in a kitchen. Great bartenders, like great chefs, are constantly thinking of ways to improve their drinks.
The new cocktail list is a collaborative effort between Zocolo’s General Manager Brent Lenners, Morgan and the other bartenders. If you ask me, the new list fits perfectly with Louisiana’s on-again, off-again weather. There is something for everyone, from the Blood Orange Old Fashioned made with Bulleit Rye Whiskey to the Mardi Gras-themed Gemini Martini. You should definitely put Zocolo on your cocktail radar.