“We just wanted to create a space that reflected some of the aspects of Mexican hospitality,” says Ignacio “Nacho” Jimenez, head bartender at Ghost Donkey, a tequila- and mezcal-focused cocktail bar located beside New York’s Saxon + Parole. “If you’ve ever had the chance of being at a Mexican dinner party or invited for a casual lunch, the themes are always embodying… a sense of welcomeness.”
Ghost Donkey reflects numerous aspects of Jimenez’s personality, from his approach to drinks to his record collection. While his roots are in Central Mexico, he’s opted for an approach that draws influences from all over the country. “I think overall, Mexico is a much more diverse culture than it is perceived, and we try to broaden that by grabbing ingredients that people don’t know, or ingredients from here and there,” he says.
As for the music? Well, that also hearkens back to his roots. “I’m always searching for music because that’s one of the loves that my mom gave to me,” he says. “My mom used to have a great tape collection.”
So what does Jimenez do when not tending bar, or collecting records? Here, he takes a stab at our Lookbook Questionnaire to share the best thing he ever drank, his go-to hangover cure and his love of ceviche. —Tobias Carroll
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I always dreamed about being a DJ.
Best thing you ever drank:
Yamazaki 25. I remember looking at the price of a bottle and [wondering] whoever would spend that much money to drink that, and then when I first had a sip of it I [thought], nothing I have ever tasted, tastes like that.
Worst thing you ever drank:
First time you ever got drunk:
I was 16 or 17 years old in Mexico City with my cousins.
If you had to listen to one album on loop for the rest of your life, what would it be?
There wouldn’t be one particular album. Through the years there’s one band that I keep following: the Cocteau Twins. I just never get tired of them.
What is the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
I am a pretty normal guy. I collect records, but that’s not weird at all.
What do you know now that you wish you had known five years ago?
I wish I could have more patience, but it’s that thing that it comes with time… from understanding others. In terms of a skill, I think it has all been kind of a natural progression.
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not eating, drinking or drink-making?
I watch a lot of movies. I go to the movies every Monday because it’s a day I do office work, so I finish fairly early. And we have so many great movie theaters around: the Angelika, IFC Center, Film Forum. I’m an independent movie watcher.
What is the weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten?
Nothing really surprises me anymore.
Your favorite bar, and why:
Most recently, I love Katana Kitten. The dedication to detail and the passion to grasp every single aspect of this industry is really palpable. You see not only attention put into the cocktails, but also into the music and to the color of the space, into the service. Masa [Urushido] and James [Tune] both have a great grasp of what this industry is. If I have to mention any other bar, I always find myself going to Maison Premiere. It’s a bar that I will always love.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
I’m a very simple guy, and I love tacos. My best meal could be eating ceviche at Mission Ceviche and then having a taco at Number One Taco.
What is your go to drink when your in a cocktail bar?
I always drink Daiquiris. I like the diversity of the rums and how much flavor profile they can put into that drink.
A wine bar?
I’m not much of a wine bar guy. Honestly, I wanted to be more sophisticated… but I guess I am not, in that sense.
In a dive bar:
Tequila Soda. And if the bar happens to have Angostura bitters, a dash of Angostura bitters.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Menudo, which is a tripe stew, basically. There’s this higher vitamin thing tripe has and it helps you feel better. It’s heavily spiced but also very homey.
The one thing that you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
Nothing. I like the diversity of things.
The last text message you sent:
“Just tell her you’re my favorite.”