In Your Cocktail: Tribe Street Kitchen

photo by Aaron Leimkuehler

Global cuisine has never been more accessible. At the River Market’s Tribe Street Kitchen, it’s only a streetcar ride away.

At the hip, urban restaurant and bar, you can sample Korean Gochujang skewers, tacos inspired by three different regions of Mexico, a hot chicken sandwich influenced by both Thailand and Tennessee, and old-fashioned donut holes that evoke the Netherlands.

It only makes sense that the cocktails reflect the same diverse geographical influences as the rest of the restaurant. Co-owner and bar manager Sam Hagan says the offerings were designed to pair well with Tribe’s food, which favors Central America and Eastern Asia dishes. The bar program leans into the former region. There are two takes on the margarita: The Daisy Margarita is more traditional while the South Side of Heaven puts a savory, herbal twist on the classic.

In the spirit of getting people to try new things, the drinks are designed to be untraditional but still accessible. Tribe’s version of a paloma is a perfect example: it’s made with mezcal, grapefruit, lime, demerara and grapefruit Jarritos, Mexico’s first national soft drink. One of the menu’s many notes informs that the cocktail is inspired by an Oaxacan sunset—“smoky, sweet, fresh.” The extra info does double duty, providing a little additional insight into the thought behind the beverages and helping build anticipation as you await the drink’s arrival.

Beyond cocktails, Tribe offers a handful of boilermakers and an affordable wine list featuring brands that support minimal intervention and sustainable farming practices. You’ll see Italy and France represented on the list, but Slovenia, Greece, and Argentina are there too. They also serve up Pisco Capel, a grape spirit produced in Chile, Scandinavia’s beloved Linie Aquavit and Sotol Por Siempre, a spirit distilled in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Tribe’s eclectic sensibilities carry through to the space, which features a hodgepodge of exposed brick, both natural and painted white, marbled gray tiles along the sides of the large central bar and not one but two chevron patterns. Rows of plants are suspended over tables, their leaves mixing with dangling lights and swaying overhead. In warmer months, Tribe boasts one of the neighborhood’s best patios.

The restaurant also serves up weekend brunch, with dishes ranging from fried-chicken pancake tacos with tamarind syrup to molletes, open-faced sandwiches with feijoada. Perhaps most enticing are the drinks, which include the Siberian—cold-brew coffee with house coffee-infused vodka—and horchata and bottomless mimosas available in a variety of fruit flavors.

If you prefer something with a harder edge, there’s always the Lawless Roads. The cocktail is a take on the old fashioned, and Hagans says it is his personal favorite libation served at Tribe. “We wanted to make something that was approachable but a little bit outside the norm,” he explains. He uses Vida Mezcal, which Hagan notes is one of the most well-known brands of the spirit stateside. The mezcal adds smokiness and an approachability to the drink, which also packs a spicy surprise. “Ancho Reyes is a chili liqueur that gives another level of depth to the cocktail.”

Lawless Roads

  • 1 ounce Bulleit Rye Whiskey
  • ½ ounce Vida Mezcal
  • ½ ounce Ancho Reyes
  • ¼ ounce demerara
  • 1 muddled cherry

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with a flamed orange peel.

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