Agave del Scottsdale is an authentic Mexican restaurant and bar that unites the country’s fresh spices. At the bar’s helm is Mexican native Fernando Bernal, who mixes his heritage with the drinks.
We recently had the chance to sit down with Bernal and get his backstory on how his career started and why Agave del Scottsdale is the right place for everyone to be.
Tell me about your career as a bartender and how it brought you to Arizona.
I’ve been bartending for about 20 years. Most of my life I lived in California, and I moved here about a year ago. Honestly, when I moved, I thought I was not going to stay in the industry. I wanted to do something different. But I came here and what I went to school for wasn’t flat out what I wanted to do. I heard about this place and how they were going to open something different for the neighborhood and Arizona. I’m from Mexico City and I could relate to some of the dishes that they’re bringing here. So I came here, talked to a general manager and we put our thoughts together and came up with some of the drinks we offer here. The rest is history.
Tell me about the oddest drink request you’ve had.
The places I have worked have not really been where you make exotic drinks. The funny thing about this industry is that a lot of the times customers don’t know exactly what they are looking for. There was a time when a lady came in and asked me for a drink that had eggs in it. I knew there were quite a few drinks nowadays that use eggs, like the yolk, but we’re not that type of place. I haven’t really even played around with that idea.
What’s your No. 1 pet peeve when working?
One thing you’ll find about me is that I’m passionate about what I do. If I didn’t enjoy what I do, most likely I wouldn’t be here. I know a lot of people are in it for the money. It bothers me when like people do not share the same passion. Regardless of what it is, whether you are working in a fancy place or just a little mom-and-pop shop, you should always enjoy what you do. Otherwise, what is the point?
What’s your go-to drink when you’re at a bar other than your own?
I’m a very simple guy. I’m like a Jack and a beer kind of guy. My favorite tequila is going to be Siete Leguas reposado. So basically tequilas go into three stages: blancos, reposados and añejos. The reposado is one of my favorite tequilas. If I go to a bar with my wife or with friends, you’ll most likely find me drinking my shot of tequila with a beer.
What does ordering a vodka tonic say about a person?
It says that someone is simple. Someone who likes simple things. A lot of people nowadays are going toward those drinks because they don’t have the calories. You can’t mess that up.
Tell me about the beverage program at Agave del Scottsdale.
All of our margaritas are made with fresh lime juice and agave nectar—all fresh ingredients. We don’t buy syrups. We don’t buy Schnapps that a lot of people use for the drinks. Everything here is fresh. We use fresh fruit, fresh lime juice and agave nectar, which most people pretend they have but they really don’t.
What is one cocktail you would love for us to feature in the magazine?
Cucumber and Cilantro Margarita ($11)
What do you like about this drink?
It’s one of the most refreshing things and it’s a year-round drink that you can have. Whether it is summer or winter, it is always a good drink to have. I love watching the expression of our guests when they are taking a sip because the flavors of the cilantro and the cucumber go really hand in hand with each other. As soon as you say cilantro in a drink, most people are like not so thrilled by the idea. But then all of a sudden you try it and you’re like, “Wow.”
Cucumber and Cilantro Margarita
2 ounces tequila
3/4 ounce of lime juice
3/4 ounce of agave nectar
2 slices of cucumber
About 10 sliced leaves of cilantro
Tajin to rim the glass
Muddle the cucumber and cilantro together in a shaker. Then combine the rest of the elements in the shaker. Before straining into a glass, rim the glass with lime juice and then Tajin. Pour the drink in the glass and garnish with a lime slice on the side.