Negroni Week runs Sept. 13 to 19 as not only a way to celebrate one of the world’s favorite cocktails, but as an effort to raise money for charities around the globe. Since its inception in 2013, Negroni Week has grown from 120 participating venues to over 12,000. In Los Angeles alone, we have 18 participating bars and restaurants— one of them being Highland Park gem Nativo. Gabriel Paredes and Corissa Hernandez opened Nativo late last year to bring an authentic-chic Guadalajara experience to the L.A.-original suburb. Below they tell us all about Nativo, their support for No Us Without You LA and Negroni Week.
Nativo in and of itself is rooted in tradition with a modern twist. Highland Park, historically, was a place largely populated by Latino immigrants. I am the son of one of those immigrants who grew up in Highland Park and the menu carries the food I grew up eating in my household. They are my mother's recipes. The modern twist comes from my personal admiration of the mid-century modern aesthetic. Nativo is a combination of my upbringing married to my contemporary artistic preferences/style. Upon arrival, you will notice all of the bright bold colors, the murals dedicated to our ancestors and icons, but you will also notice the mid-century furniture and plating accompanied by the scent of traditional Mexican ingredients, similar to our cocktail menu. Our cocktail menu is our take on American classics with a Latino twist. Grace, our lead bartender, crafted a cocktail called "Sleep Now in the Fire". It is a "buck" which is spirit, ginger, lime, and soda, but she added her mother's "tepache," recipe which is a fermented beverage made from pineapple peels and rinds.
To be honest, this pandemic has been challenging: physically, mentally and financially. We initially bought the space to open a bar, but had to pivot to building a restaurant when the government shut bars down. For lack of finances, I built the restaurant patio with my own bare hands, alongside a construction worker named Pancho who turned into my colleague in the long and arduous process of building the patio. He is now the head chef and kitchen manager of Nativo. It was difficult for small businesses, as we had to find a lot of the grants and resources on our own. Our banks didn't call us in the same way corporate business banks did. We did our own research and filed our own applications. Luckily, the Latino community really came through for each other by sharing information when one had it.
When pandemic hit, it was disproportionately affecting Black and brown communities, especially those working the back of the house at restaurants. No Us Without You LA chose to help the back of house, which a majority of the time, are undocumented. They didn't have access to unemployment and government funded grants. Being first-generation sons and daughters, of immigrants we felt passionate about supporting the people of our community and in our industry.
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The best way is to highlight how disproportionately affected BOH is during social/economic times of crisis. I think this question lands on news and media and their responsibility to get the information out on how to help BOH communities. Restaurant goers can also be more aware of whether the businesses they are supporting are giving back to the community.
The secret to making the perfect Negroni is balance. All you need is spirit, Vermouth and grand bitter. You just have to balance all 3 of those ingredients. For example, if you choose a sweeter spirit, then you have the options to choose a drier vermouth or a more bitter grand bitter. The possibilities are endless with the amounts of aromatized wines and grand bitters out in the market.
We are honoring the Negroni by using the main ingredients which are spirit, grand bitter and vermouth, but using our Mexican-influenced flavors and spirits. Take the “Murio La Flor '' Negroni: we chose tequila as our spirit, and we infused Jamaica (Hibiscus) and rosehip into the vermouth, and kept Campari as our grand bitter.
Photography by: Unsplash/Aleisha Kalina