In this edition of Tasting Tucson, we’re heading downtown for a first in this series we’re highlighting cocktails you can try while having a night out on the town.

Inside the Century Room at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., bar manager Ryne Hoffman walked us through a couple recipes with some uniquely Tucson tastes and smells.

“The jazz lures people off the street,” Hoffman said, and that’s just the start of the sensory experience inside the bar. “I love seeing their face,” Hoffman said, “when they look at the menu, and they discover that we’re also a cocktail bar.”

In talking to Hoffman, we learned the Century Room team has experimented with a new drink menu. They want to celebrate the spirit of our community’s cultural heritage.

Let’s start with a twist on a classic margarita. One of Hoffman’s muses for the Rain Daisy is creosote. He said he vividly remembers the smell of summer rain coming back from a long road trip.

“Scent takes you back to a place, or like an experience so quickly, faster than any of the other senses for me, that I love,” he said. “…Tucson is known for monsoon(s), heavy rains, and then that wonderful smell that’s in the air after it rains.”

The base of the Rain Daisy is also a sweet nod to the community’s roots. It’s something you can even use to make pastries.

Hoffman starts the recipe with 3/4 ounces of mesquite bean syrup. We asked him, what can we compare the taste of this syrup to? “Somewhere in the realm of vanilla, white chocolate, combined with caramelized honey,” he said.

Next, add 3/4 ounces of fresh lime juice, the acidic bite to even things out.

Add a little Cointreau orange liqueur and 1.5 ounces of your preferred reposado tequilanot blanco. Why reposado? Hoffman said this pairs better with the vanilla profile within the mesquite bean syrup.

Shake it up that’s done. Garnish it with a pick, a marigold and last but not least, we make way for the rain.

“We just use a little bit of creosote oil with water and spray it over the top,” Hoffman said, “because it’s a very bitter flavor. We just want the aroma.”

At another point in our conversation with Hoffman, he said there’s always room to improve on staple cocktails. So he showed us how the mesquite bean syrup can add just a touch of sweetness to the Century Room’s spin on an old-fashioned tribute, the Horse with No Name.

For this recipe, Hoffman said there’s a reason he already has a mezcal-and-bourbon-blend pour bottle. “We have almost over 100 seats, so the faster you can make the drinks to get them out on the floor, the better.”

In an old-fashioned, it’s tradition to mix in Angostura bitters. But for this take, Hoffman also added some mol chocolate bitters, too.

Stir it up with one giant ice cube; all that’s missing is the bar’s literal seal of approval.

“This is why it’s my favorite part,” Hoffman said. “We’re going to take our little ice stamp with the century room logo, so you know where you’re drinking.”

And on this visit, Hoffman was gracious enough to make Tasting Tucson a non-alcoholic version of the Horse with No Name. “We use a spirit called Seedlip,” Hoffman said, “(which basically is) kind of a gin equivalent, and the spice is like a dark rum, whiskey equivalent.”

Hoffman and his staff are working out the last touches to roll out their new heritage menu, and they also plan to incorporate more alcohol-free cocktails to welcome people in for their live music shows.