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New, tequila-like spirit from Catoctin Creek coming to Cocina on Market

Local diners not only have a new authentic Mexican restaurant to try, now a local distillery is creating an agave-based spirit to go with it.

The recently opened Cocina on Market in Leesburg, which is the new creation of chef Jason Lage and Rebecca Dudley of Market Table Bistro, have partnered with Scott and Becky Harris of Catoctin Creek Distillery to create their own agave-based spirit, "Dos Gringos."

The spirit will be similar to tequila, made from 100 percent organic agave and fermented and distilled at Catoctin's Purcellville base.

"We have known Scott and Becky for about seven years now and have discussed having them make an agave spirit for a few years. It should be available at the restaurant in about a month," Dudley said.

The concept for Cocina originated after Lage and Dudley took several trips to Mexico, visiting areas like Oaxaca, Puebla, Veracruz and Mexico City. They fell in love with the different styles of authentic food in each region.

It inspired the husband-and-wife team to open a third restaurant in Loudoun following a different culinary path from their other businesses, Market Table Bistro in Lovettsville and Market Burger in Purcellville.

Located in historic Leesburg in a renovated 1870s building that was previously a bank, every detail of their design has a thoughtful touch.

The copper metal artwork in the main bar area, including a hanging agave plant centerpiece, was commissioned for the restaurant and created by local artist Mike Clay. Their contractor, Eric Lokey, designed several tables and bar pieces from wood they received from a Lovettsville barn.

There are unique works of art, Mexican tiles, and even the bathroom sinks are part of the theme – they look like a mortar and pestle used to make guacamole.

The restaurant's other claim to fame is it has Leesburg's first rooftop bar, which they hope to open in about a month.

On the current menu – with locally-sourced items that change regularly– are traditional Mexican appetizers, such as guacamole and chips and salsa. There are other creative items, such as queso fundido served with crispy corn tortillas, or Veracruz-style seafood coctel with tomato, avocado, onion, chiles and cilantro.

There are street tacos – served with carnitas, beef tongue, crispy fish or mushrooms. Other small plates include a milanese pork cemita or cabra barbacoa torta (sandwiches).

Larger entrees are crispy whole fish, chicken asado, and milpas – a traditional dish made with a combination of corn, squash and beans.

Another unique item, nopales – or cactus leaves – are peeled and cut into thin pieces served as a salad.

Beverages include traditional margaritas, tequila- and mezcal-based drinks, wines from Spain, Argentina, Portugal and New Mexico, as well as Mexican beers. There is an El Guapo IPA, which is an agave-based brew from Norfolk's O'Connor brewery.

Cocina on Market is located at 7 West Market St. in Leesburg. It is open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner.

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