If there’s been one constant to the ongoing pandemic, it’s adaptation. After the world went topsy-turvy back in March, everyone’s had to adjust their plans and lives accordingly to accommodate this new, weird situation.
Just ask the creators of Mezcal Carreño, the locally owned artisan mezcal brand, who were set to host several lotería-themed events at Arizona bars throughout the spring.
“When everything started shutting down, all those plans got shelved because we couldn't get together with people,” says Mezcal Carreño’s co-owner Abel Arriaga.
Instead, they decided to take things online. Hence tonight’s Cinco de Carreño, a virtual party from 6 to 8 p.m. hosted by Mezcal Carreño that takes place over Zoom and will feature lotería, storytelling, and live performances. People can purchase food and libations (including mezcal) from several local bars and restaurants that are participating in the event.
“We’re doing things digitally and working around the [current situation],” Arriaga says. “It’s something simple where people can participate while still staying at home and social distancing."
The centerpiece of the party is a virtual lotería session that will be played throughout the evening. The traditional Mexican card game, which is similar to bingo, uses cards adorned with symbols of nature, objects, and folklore and is quite popular in border states like Arizona. (It even inspired the cover art of this week’s issue of Phoenix New Times.)
Arriaga says his company designed a custom-made version of lotería as a “fun way to teach people about mezcal,” the agave-based spirit that originated in Oaxaca, Mexico.
“We created a mix of traditional lotería cards, like the spider and scorpion, with custom cards designed to be teaching tools dealing with stuff like agave and mezcal,” Arriaga says.
Cards and game boards will be given out to people who purchase to-go orders of food and libations from the eight different bars and restaurants participating in the virtual party. (They’ll also get login details for the Zoom meetup.) The lineup includes spots like Thunderbird Lounge, CRUjiente Tacos, Chula Seafood Uptown, the Brickyard Downtown in Chandler, Mesa's 12 West Brewing, and Pescado Borracho in Gilbert. (The full list can be found here.)
Each establishment will be selling to-go cocktails featuring Mezcal Carreño, as well as four-ounce shots and full bottles. They’ll also have their own specialty cocktails available for purchase (Thunderbird Lounge, for instance, will offer house margaritas and Micheladas).
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Local chefs, bartenders, and other service industry types will also get involved with the Zoom session and lotería game, dealing specific cards that reflect their interests or backgrounds.
“I wanted to incorporate different people into the party, so I chose people to have cards to connect to their story in some way,” Arriaga says. “Like Chef Tamara Stanger [of Cotton & Copper] is really into sustainability and does a lot of foraging, so her cards will relate to that.”
The party will also offer a virtual photo booth where people can submit their selfies, performances by local musicians Miguel Melgoza and Ezequiel Bautista, cocktail demonstrations, and a competition to see who can make a margarita the fastest.
“It’s just some fun stuff to do in between the card games,” Arriaga says. “We’re trying to give people a fun and interesting way to celebrate Cinco instead of drinking alone or just watching the news.”