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TLO Bar Review: Palo Santo

Sierra stopped by this comfy spot in the Farmers Market District.

In my continued quest for the perfect cocktail, I recently ventured to the Farmers Market district to check out Palo Santo.

The bar-heavy restaurant gets its name from a tree native to South America. Commonly burned as incense, its derived oil has been used by both Incas and Farmers Market artisans alike as a remedy for pain, inflammation, stress, and to clear out negative energy.

The name fits Palo Santo well.

Inspired by establishments on the west coast, its vibe is a comfy, laid-back California cool. While the dim lighting and industrial interior provided a moody and chill atmosphere early on, it picks up pick-up speed as the evening progresses, turning into a hip hangout after dark.

When combined with their cocktails, all of this – just like the oil from the tree – puts the body, mind, and soul at ease, regardless of the atmosphere you’re looking for.

We arrived at Palo Santo on a Friday night right before 9pm, and were lucky enough to grab a table before their live DJ, and subsequent crowd, rolled in.

I always lean toward whiskey or tequila for my start to any evening and this was no different! Round one: the Sunny Spot ($13) - a fragrant drink starring reposado tequila, apricot, falernum, curacao, lime, and a HEFTY dip into some Hawaiian black lava salt.

Although my taste-testing companion felt that the drink was too floral – “Like your favorite Bath and Bodywork’s candle” – it made me realize how underutilized apricot is in the cocktail world.

The fruitiness of the apricot helped balance the falernum, while the tequila still made an authentic appearance. Is it my favorite cocktail? No. Is it what I’m ordering alongside some of Palo Santo’s delicious carne asada tacos when it’s 100° outside again? Yes.

We next added a Banana Nacional ($11) to the expedition – another one of those cocktails that you can justify as a dessert. With rum running the show (demerara and selvarey varieties), banane de brasil as the backup with the tartness of pineapple and lime juices before being finished with demerara sugar and nutmeg – this is a sweet drink lover’s paradise.

This drink is delicious and deserves being served in a beautiful little beach bucket while watching a sunset, not a little goblet while you’re vibing in the dimly lit, moody ambiance of a cocktail bar. But thirsty beggars can not be choosers! I would highly recommend this for anyone looking for something sweet, fruity drink with a bit of strength.

At this point, I felt I was doing life an injustice if I didn’t try the namesake Palo Santo ($13), combining mezcal espadin, sencha tea demerara syrup with barley and a cute little dehydrated pineapple garnish.

This is a hard yes. Not too sweet, not too tart, not too strong – it’s what you order for the indecisive person in the group. Whoever it is and whatever they are, they will like it. It's also one of those photogenic drinks an influencer would share on social media to show the world how great of a night they are having while you’re stuck in bed doomscrolling. This little cocktail upholds the Palo Santo name and it does it so well!

To wind down our adventure, we went with a seasonal cocktail with a coffee twist to round out the experience – That Espresso Sh*t ($14).

Because so much goes into these eight ounces, I am going list them out for accuracy’s sake: White rum, tempus fugit banane and cacao, coffee liqueur, pineapple, demerara, prelude coffee roasters cold brew, and chocolate espresso bean dust. Who knew pineapple juice and cold brew would be something I’d enjoy drinking on a cold February night? Not me, but that’s why there’s bartenders who are skilled in their craft.

Overall, I like Palo Santo.

It’s a good change from the norm and has significantly better tacos and mixology than your local neighborhood bar. While the darker ambiance and louder, club-like atmosphere appears with a crowd once 9pm hits, it also serves as a great after-work or happy hour spot to meet your friends, unwind, and – just like tree – help you clear out any negative energy.


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