Our Spring 2021 Brand Book — featuring six incredible chefs and restaurateurs as our models — is dedicated to ROAR's Restaurant Employee Relief Fund; you can learn more about our partnership here.
Llama Inn — along with its sister restaurants, Llama-San and Llamita — is the realization of Chef Erik Ramirez’s vision: bringing a taste of Peru to American diners. Of course, every good meal deserves an equally good drink, which is where Bar Director Lynette Marrero comes in.
When you step inside Llama Inn, you’re immediately hit with how vibrant and welcoming the space is — custom-designed textile artwork and loads of plants ground the sunny interior. In more typical times, it’s the perfect date spot for a cozy dinner. Lynette overflows with the same positive energy and pours that vibe into the masterful drinks she creates for the beverage program.
She and her team are responsible for overseeing everything, from selecting the spirits and sakes they carry to crafting the cocktails. The drinks at Llama Inn draw influence from all three Peruvian culinary practices — Criollo, Chifa, and Nikkei — and spirits from South America, Spain, especially Pisco.
Originally an actress, Lynette ended up unexpectedly falling in love with the waitressing work she was doing to make ends meet. “I talked my way into a job waitressing at a wine bar...I fell in love with the business and with wine and food and how it all goes together.”
However, it wasn’t until post-shift drinks at the then newly opened Flatiron Lounge that she became hooked on the art of cocktails: “The drinks were beautiful, tropical, balanced, and not overly sweet. I was hooked.”
Since her early years in the business, Lynette has racked up an impressive array of accolades and has built some of New York’s best cocktail programs. However, her “cocktail-adjacent” work is where her heart is.
The founder of the New York chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the preservation of Endangered Cocktails) and the co-founder of Speed Rack (an all-female bartending competition in its sixth season), Lynnette is a leading voice for women’s issues and empowerment in the industry.
During COVID-19, Llama Inn has had to be creative to make ends meet — and that goes beyond navigating to-go orders: an auction helped to raise $40k to support employees, and a staff pantry helped ensure the team could access what they needed during tough moments.
"The current slowdown has offered an opportunity to help my staff deepen their education, and find their voice and style. Like everyone, we had to be extremely nimble, waiting to respond to things, but also trying to be proactive as much as possible.”
Thirsty? Try one of Lynnette’s favorite cocktails — the Fresa, Fresca.
Makes 1 cocktail
0.75 oz Muña syrup (see below)
0.75 oz Lemon juice
.5 oz Mezcal
1.5 oz Pisco
In a shaker, add 4 cut-up strawberries, 6-8 mint leaves, and the Muña syrup (recipe below). Muddle gently. Add the lemon, Mezcal, and Pisco. Add 2 ice cubes and shake for approximately 15 seconds. Strain into a glass with crushed ice. Garnish with mint and a strawberry!
8 oz granulated sugar
3 grams / 2 tea bags muña (Peruvian Andean mint); may substitute mint tea
In a saucepan, add 8 oz of water and granulated sugar; I prefer sugar in the raw. Heat and stir to melt the sugar, then turn off the heat. Add muña, and steep in hot water for 30 minutes to an hour. Taste for the desired mint flavor.