Bartenders Jairo Taveras and Robert Nieves wanted to create a party that reflects their lifestyles.
It’s not easy to find good cocktails and a good party happening at the same time, in the same place. We almost understand this to be inevitable: If you’re dancing, you’re probably drinking Modelo; if you’re drinking a Penicillin variation, you’re not dancing. But these worlds don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The Shake Down, from bartenders Jairo Taveras and Robert Nieves, has started the work of merging them.
Taveras and Nieves became friends in late 2016 during a coquito competition. The latter bottles and sells an in-demand recipe during the holidays, and the former tried to develop a vegan version while working at Washington Heights bar Pocion Lounge—despite some friendly shit-talking, it’s understood that Nieves’s take is untouchable. As New Yorkers of the Caribbean diaspora, they have an approach to cocktails that’s irreverent yet approachable, and they almost always throw in nods to hip-hop or their heritages. When I first met Taveras, he served me a Mamajuana-inspired drink; Nieves makes a cocktail named for the Jay Electronica song “Better in Tune With the Infinite” that deliciously blends sage, orgeat, ginger syrup, limon, grapefruit and mezcal.