I’m standing under the palapa roof at Art & Beer with my fiancé, Rose. Photos are mounted to the wood walls, stacked on top of one another in odd, cracked frames, desert residue clinging to the glass. One person, in particular, stands out in the images. The man has a massive white beard, a wrinkled, tan face, and big, intelligent eyes. Looking at the pictures, we realize that some are from distant locations – we see Mediterranean beaches, European cathedrals, dense jungle mountains, and far-off destinations we can’t place – but the remainders were taken in this very room.
Besides the photo-collage, the bar is the room’s main feature, and near its end, the man from the pictures is seated, smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer. I look from him to the pictures and notice how little he’s aged. He appears timeless – either stuck in time or existing outside its confines. He greets us, and shortly afterward, a young woman settles in behind the bar and hands Rose a menu. We order a blackberry mescal margarita and beer and then sit back in a state of awe.
There are brightly colored expressionist paintings hung from the walls, and beyond the bar, a wooden path extends towards the Pacific. Like a self-guided tour of the property, the trail snakes through seating areas and next to art installations sitting under the shadow of Cardon cactuses. It’s an impressive outdoor space, but on this particular day, we are the only ones around.
We learn that the man from the pictures is Alfredo and that he is the owner of Art & Beer. Talking to him, I have to wonder about the workings of the mind behind this integrative experiment of painting, drinks, and up-cycled art. How long this creation took him, or how long Alfredo has lived here, we can’t discern. Many questions are rolling through our brains, and yet Alfredo shares little else, preferring his cigarette and beer to further conversation.
With Alfred no longer engaged, our attention drifts to the bartender who is busy putting the final touches on our drinks. Using fresh ingredients, and lots of them, she prepares the largest cocktail we’ve ever seen. The beverage is garnished with fresh fruits and poured in a frosted, two-liter mug. Rose takes hold of the margarita, her hand appearing miniature next to the cup. We’re both wondering if the bartender has made a mistake. “No mistake,” she says, “this is the normal size.” Rose and I share a look, as nothing about the size of this drink is normal, but once we taste the cold fruit-booze concoction, we welcome the challenge. The smoothie-like blackberry blend is both sweet, and tart and the distinct, smoky-bite of mescal is lurking underneath. After a single sip, I push my beer aside and stick a second straw into the cocktail, hoping my honey is in the mood to share.
We follow a staircase up to the second floor, sitting at a table overlooking the property. By now the sun is setting, and an orange hue pours over houses, dirt roads, and the Pacific. Below us is the maze of Art & Beer, our position offering a birds-eye-view. It’s a mashed visual experience, with odd statues, spinning geometric sculptures, and multi-colored bottles encased in concrete pyramids. Adding to the sensory experience, music emanating from hidden speakers plays across the property. Within seconds, I pick up the tune. There’s no mistaking it. Sinatra’s low, resonant voice calls out, serenading us in the fading light, his youthful bravado reaching our ears before spreading across the land.
We head down to explore the garden path. The sky is turning to purple behind a fading blur of orange-red, and the stars have arrived, fixed like diamonds on the universal canvas. We stroll along the creaky, vaulted path. It leads us to a stage, the size perfect for a string quartet. There are no musicians or any other people. There is only Sinatra’s voice, and his message rings out loud and true.
“I’ve lived a life that’s full.
I’ve traveled each and every highway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way”
I take Rose’s hand, pull her close, and with only the desert wildlife to witness, we begin to dance.
Ex-Pat Chronicle – Lessons Learned From
1. If you’re searching for the essence of the Baja, try watching the sunset from the patio of Art & Beer.
2. The quickest path to originality is through creativity.
3. In life, there are endless moments, yet only a handful we truly remember.
Art & Beer – El Pescadero, Baja California Sur
About the Author:
Leaving his home state of Colorado behind, Justin now calls the beaches of Baja California home. A writer and new expat, he is a resident of Todos Santos, Mexico.