Too many nights spent in the cantinas of northern Mexico. Too many nights in the creaky old alley bars of Acuna and the basement shot houses of Nuevo Laredo.

When Juan Pablo first walked up to us on a side street in Acuna back in the nineties it was a mite scary. He was portly, wearing a taco bender cowboy hat with Durango, written in old English on one side and appeared to be heavily intoxicated. He became a good friend but he started out as a “tourist guide”

Best ten dollar investment ever.

We meet halfway on the language front and it quickly becomes apparent that he knows we’re ready to step over to the dark side for a bit and see the non tourist side of the town.

We walk down a particularly seedy looking alley where a party is in progress on the top floor of a squat brick building. JP as we come to call him, waves no when he notices we’re all ready to climb the stairs and get down with the locals.

Instead we walk down a staircase to a door with no handle. He carefully digs his prodigious finger nails into the edge of the wooden door and claws it open.

It’s a wonderland.

The room is bathed in red light, a huge bouncer barely glances at us as JP doffs his hat towards him.

The waitresses are dressed up like Playboy bunnies and the walls are covered with flat panel teevees showcasing some very fine low budget Mexican porn.

Shots of Mezcal are a buck. Tecate Lights, then a novelty, are a buck too. As Juan Pablo is a tee totaller he just sits back and adopts the role of baby sitter as we proceed to get surpassingly drunk.

Although the memories of that night are growing dimmer by the year we still love a good Mezcal fueled evening now and again.

So when we read that Bridget Dunlap, the tigress of Rainy Street, is opening a new bar tonight in Austin and that it only serves Mezcal we got real excited.

Our anticipation is heightened when we read that there will be a shrine to Maximón, a figure of mythic importance in Mesoamerica where he has attained a cult like following.

If it can harken us back to Mexico a bit without the modern fear of being decapitated then we’re all in.

Bar Ilegal could create shockwaves in Austin but it only seats 20 people.

all Austin Daily Photos here

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