Celebrating their five-year anniversary in July, Memo’s Cocina and Tequila Bar lives up to their name with over 100 different tequilas handpicked by Memo himself. Since they opened in downtown Turlock there have been a few changes, but one thing that has not changed is the quality of food and drinks and the upscale, trendy experience.
“We wanted to do something more modern and trendy here,” said owner Karina Ramirez. “So we did our homework. We went to the Bay Area, Sacramento and we went down south. We saw different ideas. We loved the concept of bringing authentic Mexican food. The bar we wanted everything fresh; there is nothing premixed. We wanted everything made from scratch.”
That “everything” at the bar made from scratch includes their purees, syrups and their juices. They make their own triple sec with limes and agave and hand craft specialty cocktails. They feature a new creation each week created with a Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, tequila or mescal which has been growing in popularity.
Ramirez explained that there are three generations – her father-in-law, husband and son all named Guillermo – whom the restaurant bar is named after. “Memo” is a nickname for Guillermo. Her husband really wanted to have a genuine and unique tequila bar but that is not the only thing they serve. They have a full bar with a variety of beer, wine, and spirits.
For those that don’t know much about tequila they can try a flight and bartender Jose Ramos, Jr. can tell you all about them. He can tell you which tequila can suit your palate or the ones that are sweeter, smokier or smoother. They have sipping tequilas which are higher end tequilas which are not recommended to be taken with lime and salt so that guests can taste it on their palate and really enjoy it.
Ramos has been bartending at Memo’s for the past eight years and truly loves to create craft cocktails for guests. With the Central Valley being a mecca of farmland they use fresh, local, seasonal ingredients for their cocktails.
“I like creating drinks,” said Ramos. “I am really into my drinks and making sure the customers are satisfied with their drinks as well.”
Among the many options of tequila offered, there are Espolòn, Patron and Casamigos which was co-founded by George Clooney and Rande Gerber. They even have tequila that is $300 a shot called Clase Azul Ultra Tequila. The bottle itself is made with a little silver, gold and platinum. Keeping up with food trends there is organic tequila as well like 1 2 3 or “Uno, Dos, Tres” which is certified organic-made with 100 percent blue weber agave and aged in small barrels. The price points differ dependent on the type of tequila requested.
“Something else that has become really popular is the mezcal,” added Ramirez. “A lot of the places in the Bay Area and the trendy areas are bringing more mezcal in. It is the same process as tequila but the mezcal is smoked underground versus instilled so you get that smokiness. So you are going to taste a smoky flavor; it kind of reminds me of more like a whiskey but I love it. It makes the cocktail so much better. It is totally different than tequila. The cooking process is different.”
The Artisan Mezcal Cocktails include Mezcalito which is a house favorite made with fresh muddled oranges, agave nectar, fresh squeezed lime and orange juice. Another creation to try for a tasty blend of some unlikely flavors is the El Bandido Bueno, which that has fresh red bell pepper and muddled pineapple, lime juice and agave with a chipotle powder rim that gives your palate an unusual but extremely tasty cocktail. Ramos stated that people will come in and ask for the BBQ cocktail.
Another popular drink year round is the Watermelon Agua Fresca that has the perfect balance of sweet and refreshing made with fresh watermelon that is muddled with fresh basil, fresh agave, hand squeezed lime juice, with tequila and a Tajin rim. Not only is the presentation fabulous but the flavor is delightful.
The Artisan Tequila Cocktail that one may find quite pleasing is the El Mango served with a reposado, mango puree, chamoy, agave nectar and fresh lime juice.
A new cocktail that they offer for those that may be looking for something healthy is the Kombucha cocktail made with fresh fruit. Another option may be the Pura Vida that is made with muddled pineapple and coconut water, as Ramos said, “So you can hydrate while you dehydrate.”
They are open seven days a week and have happy hour Monday through Friday. On Thursdays they have $3 margaritas made with fresh lime juice, agave, and their house tequila Lunazul that is 100 percent agave hand-harvested and small-batch distilled. They offer a brunch on Saturday and Sunday with bottomless mimosas.
The knowledge and the passion can be seen and heard from Ramirez and Ramos and they invite everyone to come have a fresh and tasty cocktail. If you don’t know what to order just ask for the bartender special and Ramos will whip up something that will delight your taste buds.