New cocktail bar Mambo Zombi mixes creative concoctions for the living and the undead

Mambo Zombi is a new afterlife-themed cocktail bar above the Georgia Beer Garden off Edgewood Ave. (Courtesy of Fleisher Photography/Ryan Fleisher)

 The new cocktail bar Mambo Zombi takes cues from the afterlife and holidays like Dia de los Muertos. The owners of Joystick Game Bar, Johnny Martinez and Brandon Ley, partnered with Kysha Cyrus to open this spooky space last September.

It’s located above the Georgia Beer Garden off of Edgewood Ave. The three co-owners all joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about the curious concoctions their new venture offers.

Interview highlights follow below.

A bar aesthetic offering a whimsical take on mortality:

“‘Mambo Zombi’ is actually a song title from a group called Eskorzo…a mix of musicians from Spain and from Latin America and from the Caribbean,” said Martinez. “They’re a little irreverent. They have an entire album that’s just about cannibalism, for instance. But it’s also joyful too, right? Like, they don’t take themselves too seriously, but they put out very good music. And hearing that song over and over and over again, it became sort of an unofficial theme song for what should be going on above Georgia Beer Garden, and that eventually just became the name.”

“We want this bar to be a different space… we want you to move from this world into a space that connects you to the next world, both mentally and emotionally,” Martinez said. Ley added, “There is definitely a skull motif, obviously with referencing the afterlife and the death portion of it, but it’s not horror. It’s not foreboding. There’s a skeleton llama somewhere in that place and little characters that could come across as demonic, but they are honestly just having a good time.”

Enticing options to include alcohol-free visitors:

“Apparently, that’s when people were drinking the most, was during the pandemic, because we’re just either all at home, or I mean, the only thing that was the game in town were package stores or a bar,” said Cyrus. “So I think going into the next year, I think people were trying to do better for themselves a little bit, or just because maybe you don’t want to drink all the time, but you still like to hang out and go out to places. So we wanted to put that into our model… something that’s just not like, ‘Oh, I want a non-alcoholic drink,’ and then throw some juices together… We juice everything fresh…we wanted to make things that were true to what we do, which is like the tepache and the chicha morada and agua fresca that we try to feature every week. So I think it was just really important to have those things.”

Mixologists so committed to flavor that they juice their own sugarcane:

“It’s a hundred percent difference,” said Cyrus. “And don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought sugar cane juice from a farmer’s market, and it’s fine. But you know, after a day or two, it’s still fine, but it loses this really nice thing about it. So when you’re able to get someone to order a drink, even if it’s just straight sugar cane juice, or the cocktail that we use with it called the ‘Madame Gorgeous,’ fresh sugar cane juice just looks, it’s just bright. It’s fresh. It’s still a little vegetal, not as sweet as you think it would be… Even just right out the juicer, it’s phenomenal, and the look on people’s faces when you run that thing through, it’s like, ‘Huh? Look at that show.'”

More information on Mambo Zombi, including upcoming events and specials, can be found at https://www.facebook.com/mambozombi/