Inside Over-the-Rhine’s La Ofrenda, a Cinematic Mexican-Inspired Tequila Bar

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La Ofrenda, Spanish for “offering,” provides an intimate glimpse into owner Jacob Trevino’s childhood, spent 20 miles north of the Mexican border in Harlingen, Texas.

The dimly lit and cinematic tequila establishment near Findlay Market has a colorful altar at its center, inviting guests to experience Mexican heritage while celebrating their own story and where they came from.

La Ofrenda serves unique margaritas — like the Zócalo Café, made with Cantera Negra Coffee tequila, cold-pressed coffee and orange-infused condensed milk, and the Grapefruit Basil, which incorporates a grapefruit foam through a molecular technique — but don’t chalk it up as a “margarita bar” and don’t call it a “Day of the Dead” bar either. It cheapens the authenticity and makes a kitschy spectacle of the real story behind the bar’s culture.

The carefully curated drink selection has 130 varieties of tequila, mezcals and sotols — if you’re looking for beer, bourbon or other liquors you won’t find them here.

“I have a tequila bar,” Trevino says. “Bars don’t have to be for everybody. We celebrate the spirit of tequila and selling anything else can water down the experience.”

Most people have a “tequila story” and, usually, it ends badly. Typically, tequila is tied to shots that lead to forgetful nights and waking up on your neighbor’s lawn wondering where your phone went. La Ofrenda, however, encourages a different approach.

“Tequila has a lot of nuances and a lot of characteristics,” Trevino says. “All of our pours are 2 ounces, because tequila is meant to be sipped and savored — we treat the spirit with respect.”

The bar is influenced by The Golden Age of Mexican cinema (1933-1964) reaching the height of production and economic success during WWII.

Before opening La Ofrenda, Trevino and his team took a road trip from Houston to San Antonio to see and gather inspiration. The team ventured to flea markets and specialty stores to source the bar’s interior decor; from the tile floor to the mosaiced mirrors and movie-poster-lined-walls, every detail is from Mexico and Texas and connects the guest to the experience.

The most noticeable feature is the aforementioned white altar, magnetized by neon graphics from a state-of-the-art projection system. It’s adorned with pictures of relatives, flowers and candles similar to what you’d find in Mexico on Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). During this time, family members honor those that have passed with ofrendas (offerings). Patrons are even encouraged to bring their own photos of family members or any offerings they’d like to honor their past.

La Ofrenda, 30 Findlay St., Over-the-Rhine, laofrendatequila.com.

| Photos by Hailey Bollinger