I was in Prime Meats recently, talking to bar manager Damon Boelte, when the name of his former employer, liquor store owner extraordinaire LeNell Smothers, came up. Last we heard from Smothers, she had closed her famously well-stocked Red Hook liquor store and announced her plans to move to Mexico (!) and open up a cocktail-oriented bed and breakfast (!!). When that news came out, I—and I expect, others—received it with a certain amount in incredulity. But Damon said she had indeed gone and done it. So I looked into it.
Indeed, the joint has a website and everything. It is called Casa Cóctel, and is located in La Paz, near the tip of the Baha California Sur peninsula. Smothers has opened the place with Demián Camacho Santa Ana. The house is five blocks from the beach in Baja California Sur, and can accommodate six guests (with one bedroom done up in "brothel red").
Just so one of the prime focuses of the retreat isn't mistaken, the arched gateway proudly states “Bartenders live here" and the garbage can out front is shaped like a cocktail glass (designed by a local iron shop). The wine fridge holding nearly 200 bottles and a second floor terrace has a private bar stocked with liquors gathered from around the world including the last few remaining bottles of LeNell’s own proprietary whiskey labeled Red Hook Rye.
Smothers continues her love affair with fresh eggs (used in drinks and otherwise). She has a chicken coop, as well as a few wild turkeys, the two biggest named Jimmy and Eddie Russell after the Wild Turkey Master Distiller and his son. The chandelier that used to hang in LeNell's liquor store now lights the house's stairwell.
Smothers told me they're busy putting the last coats of paint on the place. Still, they are taking reservations at this stage. "Each guest will have a customized stay with us, depending level of attention folks need with meals, drinks, vacation planning. We have a questionnaire for folks to fill out to help us plan types of meals, wines, spirits, classes, outings,
etc and determine packages we can offer." Rates are in the works, but "Bartenders will get "friends/family" discounts."
The website also has a wish list of things Smothers can't easliy get in Baha. She asks gently that friends bring any of the items that they can. Among them:
Stone ground grits
Dark chocolate (the darker and more bitter the better...no Nestle or Hershey please)
Dry black eyed peas
Fox's Kosher for Passover U-Bet Chocolate Syrup (has real cane sugar, not corn syrup) for Egg Creams
Whiskey (bourbon, rye, scotch, whatever)
Charbay Double & Twisted
Noilly Ambre vermouth
LeNell Smothers without access to whiskey? ¡Ay, caramba!