After nearly twenty years, Matador Ballard moved to a new location from its corner presence on NW Market Street and Ballard Ave. But have no fear, the new space is bigger and better than ever. The new Matador is just down the street, at the former Ballard Annex space at 5410 Ballard Ave. It has the same intimate and cozy vibes as before, with the addition of more dining space, a private event area, an outdoor patio, and a beautiful mezcaleria located in the back bar.
With its large windows, dimmed lighting, and artsy decor located throughout the dining area, the new space has exactly the ambiance you would want for a fun night out.
Matador has introduced various creative cocktails into their menu, including my new favorite, the cucumber jalapeño margarita with a chipotle salt rim. The relocation comes with delicious additions to the food menu as well. Among these additions are dishes like spicy habanero shrimp with roasted garlic polenta, and panko fried mahi mahi tacos.
But the shining star of Matador’s new location is the mezcaleria. Boasting the largest selection of mezcal in the Pacific Northwest, there is sure to be something for every palate. Mezcal flights are offered, in addition to specialty cocktails.
During the restaurant’s grand opening, I had the pleasure of doing a mezcal tasting with Brian Livesay, the Beverage Operations Manager at Matador. Brian was incredibly knowledgeable about all things mezcal, and I will definitely be going back soon for another tasting.
Brian was kind enough to share one of his favorite mezcal cocktail recipes with us—we hope you enjoy!
by Brian Livesay, Beverage Operations Manager, Matador Ballard
While Matador will be featuring many new and exciting mezcal cocktails at the mezcaleria in their new Ballard location, this drink was their original mezcal margarita and has been a guest favorite on the menus at all of Matador locations for years. Their classic Smokey Margarita is easy to make and features a charred pineapple syrup to complement the smoky agave fruit notes in the mezcal. It’s a great starter mezcal cocktail that anyone from the novice mezcal drinker up to the serious aficionado can enjoy.
- 1.75 ounces of any quality, joven Espadín mezcal. Some of our favorites are 400 Conejos, Ilegal, Sombra, Agave de Cortez, or Union.
- 0.75 ounces quality triple sec orange liqueur
- 1 oz fresh lime juice. (Fresh lime juice is best but a pasteurized, bottled juice is OK so long as it is un-sweetened! Only use 100% real juice with no added sugar!)
- 1 oz Charred Pineapple syrup (recipe to follow)
- Tajin—a popular Mexican seasoning blend of sea salt, chiles, and lime. It’s a zesty, citrusy, slightly spicy seasoned salt and it is amazing with mezcal and fruit-based drinks.
- Fill a 16 oz glass with ice.
- Add mezcal, triple sec, lime juice, and pineapple syrup
- Cap with a shaker and shake very hard for 5 seconds
- Rim glass with Tajin and pour drink from shaker back into rimmed glass
- Garnish with a lime or pineapple wedge and more Tajin
Charred Pineapple Syrup:
- Cut 1 pound of fresh pineapple into planks about 1″ thick. Place on grill (or under oven broiler) and cook until 50% of the surface area has been blackened—about 5 minutes per side.
- While pineapple is grilling, place 3 cups of pineapple juice, 1-1/2 tsp paprika, and 1-1/2 tsp chile powder in a sauce pan and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in 3 cups of sugar.
- Put grilled pineapple pieces and pineapple syrup into a blender and pulse for 20-30 seconds until fruit chunks have been fully pureed.