“My dad was a mezcal maker, he had a little mezcal store and I would work in the store selling mezcal with him,” began Bricia Lopez, who moved with her family from their hometown of Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico to Los Angeles when she was just ten-years-old. “Going to a school where no one looked like you was different, no one spoke your language and nobody really understood your food,” she explained of her transition to the U.S. Fast forward, and the now James Beard Award-winning restauranteur, businesswoman, author and mother finds herself at the forefront of the tequila and mezcal industry.
In 1994 Bricia’s father opened up their family restaurant Guelaguetza which to this day she and her siblings continue to operate. Her travels between L.A. and Oaxaca brought a light bulb idea that made her persuade her father into opening a bar within when only a few brands of mezcal were in business.
“I was going back and forth and I just saw this revolution that was happening in Oaxaca within mezcal that hadn't really reached the U.S. or even outside of Oaxaca,” she explained of how the idea to open a bar came about. “A lot of mezcaleros were getting together. They were discussing what makes a great mezcal, and it was the first time that I started listening and hearing these conversations surrounding the types of agaves because I lived in L.A. and I lived around a community that was very big in wine and food.”
Listening to people’s stories opened her up to a world of possibilities. “Hearing these people being so passionate about mezcal just made me understand this is going to be what people are gonna want to drink just because it makes sense with the trends that were happening here.” But even though Bricia finds herself in a male-dominated industry the outcome of her entrepreneurial vision became the country’s largest collection of mezcal and tequila all in one place.
The multihyphenate's newest venture Mama Rabbit Bar opened its doors during summer 2019 inside Park MGM in Las Vegas. The new establishment is a Oaxacan-inspired concept that houses the greatest selection of tequila and mezcal in the country with a roster of over 500 labels. But besides offering a vast selection of Mexican liquor, the space comes with a DJ booth, a gaming area and an invitation to simply enjoy yourself and have fun which is the ultimate dream when in Vegas.
“There are a lot of little details around the space. We have a great, beautiful installation of 400 rabbits representing Mayahuel’s (the goddess of agave and fertility) 400-hundred rabbit children and those were all handmade in Oaxaca with barro negro,” described Bricia.
“We have this incredible, beautiful mural done by Okuda, a Spanish muralist, of this beautiful indigenous woman and three slot machines that he created. So there's a lot of details that went into the space that are very special to us. And at the center it’s just tequila and mezcal and amazing cocktails.”
As for her advice to Latina moms and entrepreneurs, Bricia says, “I think that today we need to show our children that you don't need to be a martyr, that you can follow your dreams, that you can do this and that at the end of the day it’s for you to be fulfilled so your children see you fulfilled, and understand what that life looks like.” She continued, ”I think that Latina women today are being empowered in a way that’s never been done. I think owning the power of your Latinidad, it's unlike anything. And when you live in that power, everyone around [you] sees it because you see your worth.”